When getting cover for your bike, it helps to understand how insurers set their prices so you can help reduce the cost of your policy.
Generally speaking, the amount an insurance company charges is a reflection of:
Some of the factors involved you can’t do much about, such as your age.
But there are others – say, the type of motorcycle you ride, and how much you use it – that you do have some sway over.
Some insurers may put more weight on certain factors over others, so it’s worth shopping around for policies and find one that suits your wallet.
These are some of the more common factors that insurers look at:
Your insurer doesn’t know if you’re a reckless or careful rider. Therefore it has to use statistics to work out how likely you are to make a claim.
Unfortunately, these stats are stacked against younger bikers.
Those between 17 and 25 years of age are considered the riskiest age group, and so tend to have higher prices.
The motorcycle you ride
As you’d expect, the more expensive or powerful your bike is, the more of a risk it poses.
For example, a classic 2 wheeler may cost more to repair than a new model, particularly if it’s rare and the cost of spare parts is higher.
But if you own a beaten-up old scooter, don’t assume that just because your bike isn’t worth much, it’ll be cheap to cover.
Also, bikes with larger engines are also more likely to be involved in an accident, so a super-charged ride would likely cost more to insure.
Modifications to your bike
It’s worth noting that, if you decide to modify your motorbike, you need to tell your insurer about it.
While some modifications will hike up the cost of your premium, many of the most common ones actually have little or no effect on premiums at all.
Modifications such as crash bars, upgraded braking systems and a 5% increase in engine capacity would have virtually no impact on insurance premiums, while wheels, suspension and tank pads may also be accepted by insurers and would only result in a moderate premium increase.
By contrast, modifications that are likely to be expensive to insure include performance-enhancing exhausts, increasing engine capacity over 5 per cent, and a nitrous oxide injection.
Non-disclosure of information, whether intentional or not, may have an impact on any future claim, as effectively the premium has been calculated based on incorrect information - and insurers are well within their rights to refuse your claim if the situation is not what they agreed to insure.
Insurers will generally look at whether the modifications enhance the performance of the bike, or whether any cosmetic modifications increase the risk of theft.
How good your security is
The harder your motorcycle is to steal, the lower your premiums.
If you can keep the bike in a locked garage at night, this can help keep costs down. Anti-theft measures such as ground anchors, immobilisers and bike locks can also help.
Make sure any security devices you buy are recognised by the insurer you’re planning to use, otherwise you may not get a discount.
Where you live
Your postcode also has a bearing on the cost of insurance. If you live in a built-up area where the risk of accidents is greater, you’ll pay more.
You’re also likely to pay more if you live somewhere that has high recorded levels of bike theft.
How you use your bike
If you use your ride for commuting as well as for social reasons, you’re likely to pay more for cover. This is because you’ll be riding more when the roads are busy.
Your annual mileage also has a bearing. After all, the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident.
Your riding record and no-claims bonus
One of the more significant factors in calculating your cost of cover is your claims history, and whether you have any points on your licence.
Your insurer will ask for details of any claims or convictions in the past five years. Even if a claim wasn’t your fault, you still need to tell them about it.
If you haven’t made any claims for a year or more, you should have some form of no-claims bonus.
Most insurers will accept up to five years’ worth of no-claims to give you a discount on your premium.
The higher the voluntary excess you agree to, the less your insurance tends cost.
The drawback here is that, when you make a claim, that amount is deducted from your final payout.
If you have zero voluntary excess, your insurer sees that it’ll have to pay you the full amount of the claim, so your premiums tend to be higher.
What types of motorcycle cover can I buy?
There are basic kinds of bike cover:
Third-party only (TPO)
Covers damage to other people, property and vehicles in accidents that are your fault.
Third-party, fire and theft (TPFT)
All the benefits of TPO, but your bike is also covered if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.
All the benefits of TPFT, but you’re also covered for damage to you and your bike, even if the accident was your fault.
Usually, the higher the level of cover you opt for, the higher your premiums are likely to be.
However, this sometimes isn’t the case, and a comprehensive policy can work out at a similar price to TPFT.
As always, take a look at quotes for the various levels of cover and see where you can get the best deal.