YOUR MONEY: Old bikers out in front as cost of cover bites

THIRTY-SOMETHING superbikers are the new kings of the road. They are well-off and they love big bikes. It takes a hefty, white-collar salary to afford the new pounds 10,450 BMW R1100RT, or a Harley Davidson that can cost anything between pounds 6,500 and pounds 13,000.

These bikers are safety-conscious, perhaps married, often leisure-only riders, and they have not been driven off the road by soaring insurance costs. Rates for youngsters can now be more than 10 times higher than for oldies.

The number of older riders on large-engined bikes has been rising - there are 25 per cent more bikes of over 500cc on the road than in 1990. Meanwhile, the last five years has seen a significant drop in the total number of bikes.

Younger riders, traditionally the main customers for smaller-engine bikes, seem to be opting for cars instead. One reason is that the price differential between cars and bikes has fallen. A new Yamaha DT125R commuter-style bike costs about pounds 2,700, the price of a reasonable second-hand car. But the high price of insurance has also put the brakes on. To insure a 17- year-old, living in a medium-risk area, on a Suzuki RG 125 Gamma bike might cost pounds 1,000 for only third-party, fire and theft.

Some three years ago, motorbike insurance premiums shot up. "This was down to a mistake in the industry,'' says Tony Snelling, technical editor of Motorcycle News. "Companies rated bikes by their engine size alone. They failed to notice the difference between more sporty bikes and the regular commuter models, or that one group was stolen and crashed far more than the other." Since then, insurers have made efforts to differentiate and to bring prices down for lower risks.

Young bikers have paid. Some companies refuse insurance altogether - Lombard General will not look at under-19s, or indeed any driver within 12 months of passing their test. Where insurance is offered, only third- party or third-party, fire and theft is viable - fully comprehensive is not worth the huge outlay.

A 17-year-old on a Suzuki RG 125 Gamma bike might pay 15 times as much as a 35-year-old with maximum no claims discount insuring third-party, fire and theft with Equity Red Star. Teenagers hardly ever use safety devices such as immobilisers or tracker devices - the bikes are considered too cheap to bother.

Older drivers get discounts for their age, and for restricted use. Niche classic bike insurers such as Footman James have particularly low prices. Norwich Union offers 20 per cent no-claims discount for two years' accident- free motoring. Overnight garaging earns a 5 per cent discount, 10 per cent can be knocked off for use of immobilisers (cost pounds 125-pounds 200).

Where the owner lives has a bearing on price. Living in a town involves more risk - more bikes are stolen and heavier traffic means accidents.

To keep premiums down, shop around. In a recent survey by Motorcycle News, some quotes were over five times as much as others for the same risk.

There are about 10 insurers and brokers that specialise in motorbike insurance, plus some Lloyd's syndicates, compared with 100 car insurers. Norwich Union has 60 per cent of the market, Devitts has 20 per cent.

Bennetts Insurance, NIG Skandia and Norwich Union give better quotes for young drivers. Cornhill, Equity Red Star (through Devitts), Eagle Star and Lombard are more suited to older, lower-risk bikers. Norwich Union and NIG Skandia discount for older bikers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas