Personal finance: Bigger bikes, higher risks

Tim Collison on where to find insurance for the latest thirtysomething fashion accessory

THE MOTORBIKE is making a comeback. Last year motorcycle and scooter sales hit their highest level for 13 years, says the Motor Cycle Industry Association, with over 120,000 machines sold in the UK.

You might think that this is because more of us are buying trendy scooters, but the best-selling bike of 1998 was a whopping great 900cc Honda. The truth is that a growing number of thirty-something and forty-something professionals are splashing out on luxury high-performance bikes to ride in their spare time.

Ensuring that these bikers ride safely is now a concern for the insurance industry and the Department of Transport. The rise of the thirty-something biker led many insurers to think that biking was entering a new, safer era. Far from it.

"The problem is that people are getting on bikes again maybe 15 or 20 years after owning their first bike, without realising that big bikes are a lot more powerful now," explains Richard Alger, market support manager at Norwich Union. "A whole new set of riding skills are now required and many born-again bikers are having accidents because they don't realise this."

So if you are thinking about joining this band of born-again bikers, you need the right insurance. Specialist insurance broker MC Edwards, which has put together a policy for Peugeot scooter owners, offers comprehensive cover at a flat rate of pounds 225. This is reduced to pounds 150 if you just take out third party, fire and theft cover. Insure a classic scooter (more than 20 years old) and your premium could be pounds 40.

The premium for a high-performance bike is more expensive. Under Carole Nash Insurance Consultants' Ultima policy, an office worker of 39 living in Milton Keynes with two years' no claims and adequate security, riding an pounds 8,000 Yamaha YZF-R1 registered this year, would pay pounds 534.

There are three ways to buy motorcycle insurance: through a specialist insurance broker, from a motorcycle dealer (usually arranged via a broker) or from a direct insurer.

The only direct company actively selling motorbike cover is Hastings Direct. When the insurer burst on to the market a couple of years ago, it was offering some cheap premiums. They are not as competitive now but it is still worth getting a quote. Motorcycle Direct is also offering good premiums.

Motorbike insurers have become more sophisticated but there are two basic things all of them look for: adequate security and evidence of safe and competent riding.

Motorbike theft is a growing problem. A bike is stolen every 13 minutes, and for this reason insurers will require an immobiliser on many higher- value bikes. In some cases the owner will be required to garage the machine and secure it to the floor with a ground anchor.

To encourage owners to take theft seriously, most insurers will offer discounts for security devices. For example, Cornhill offers a 7.5 per cent discount for garaging and between 5 and 7 per cent for security devices. Norwich Union offers discounts of up to 8 per cent for immobilisers and tagging devices on its Premier Bike policy.

Anyone wanting to ride a motorbike or moped must complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). The training is thorough, covering areas such as bike maintenance, gear changing and junctions.

Many motorcyclists also undertake advanced rider training. Insurers will usually reward these policyholders with a discount. For example, Motorcycle Direct has an agreement with the British Motorcyclists Federation that anyone successfully completing its riding scheme will get a 25 per cent discount.

Most motorbike policies have similar standard sections, covering damage to, or loss of, vehicle, liability to third parties and usually legal expenses. However, some specialists offer policies with a wide range of standard and optional extras.

The first thing you should look for in a policy is an emergency breakdown service. Norwich Union charges an extra pounds 28 for the RAC's service, Bennetts also offers RAC rescue and Motorcycle Direct offers a recovery service from DAS. Lombard is one of the few companies that does not provide roadside recovery.

Most policies will also offer automatic green card cover for riding in Europe. Check whether the policy covers personal possessions; some do not and others have low limits. Carole Nash's Icons has a limit of pounds 1,000 for helmets, leather and other accessories; Norwich Union charges an extra pounds 22 for pounds 250 of possessions. Also ask if personal accident insurance is available - Norwich Union is unusual in offering up to pounds 1,000 of cover.

If your motorbike is damaged beyond repair, some companies - such as Bennetts and Motor-cycle Direct - will replace the bike if it is less than six months old and if the damage exceeds 70 per cent of its listed price.

Finally, you must check the excess. Most insurers will base this on a sliding scale according to the bike's power. It usually ranges from pounds 100 to pounds 500. Beware some of the small ads in the back of motorcycle magazines. The premiums maybe cheap, but the excesses can be as high as pounds 1,000.

Tim Collison is editor of `Professional Broking' magazine.

bike specialists

Bennetts, 0870-333 0007

Carole Nash, 0800-298 5500

Devitt's Direct, 0645 279305

Motorcycle Direct, 01454 419801

Hastings Direct, 0800 001066

MC Edwards, 01536 510100

NU Direct, 0800 125750

For Norwich Union, Cornhill, Lombard and Eagle Star policies, contact a specialist broker.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride