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Modified motorbike insurance and motorbike modifications

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Modified motorbike insurance can seem confusing at first. Some insurance companies might charge extra for some modifications, while others include them in your policy.

But certain modifications could even lower your costs. Here’s what you need to know.

A close up of a motorbike parked on the road

Insurance companies consider a motorbike modification to be any change that alters your motorbike from its factory state.

This could include new decals to loud exhausts. 

Most modifications tend to increase your insurance costs. But modifications that increase your motorbike's security might actually lower your insurance costs.

So, it’s vital you let your insurer know of any modifications you’ve made. If you don’t tell your insurer that your motorcycle is modified, they could refuse to pay out if you make a motorbike insurance claim.

Most changes to the factory specification of your motorbike might be considered a motorbike modification.

This doesn't include items on your motorcycle that are expected to be replaced regularly, though. So replacing air and fuel filters, tyres and brake pads aren't counted as modifications.

You can also add things to your motorbike that might be considered to be accessories rather than modifications. These include things like:

  • Panniers
  • Heated grips
  • Mudguards
  • Cosmetic changes

These accessory modifications are normally covered as standard by your insurer. But each insurer has a different list of accepted accessories so you should check your policy.

All changes to your motorcycle from it's factory specification are either an accessory or a modification. 

The main difference between a motorbike modification and an accessory, is how it affects the operation of your motorbike.

An accessory is part of your motorcycle that's not directly related to how it works as a motorcycle. This means an integrated audio system is considered an accessory, along with items fitted to your motorbike - such as grips, guards and panniers.

A modification is a change to your motorbike that affects the performance or handling of your motorbike.

The distinction is important, because modifications are included in the agreed value of your motorbike and should be replaced as standard.

Accessories on the other hand, are often subject to limits, and might have to be declared on top of the value of your motorcycle.

If you're not sure what to tell your insurer about, tell them about everything.

When an insurer looks at your motorbike, it looks for things that could increase your risk of making a claim.

This might be something that makes your motorcycle more attractive to a thief. Or something that makes it go faster.

Most insurers have a list of modifications that they accept as standard and don't need to be informed about.

The exact list of acceptable modifications varies between insurance companies, but often includes:

  • Air filter changes
  • Bar ends
  • Braided hoses
  • Heated grips
  • Huggers
  • Seat replacements
  • Scottoilers
  • Sissy bars (or longer back rest)
  • Screen changes
  • Tank pads

Usually, motorbike modifications make your insurance costs go up. This is because insurers see modifications as an additional risk when working out your motorbike insurance costs. The more powerful or desirable a motorbike is, the more likely you are to make a claim. 

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Yes, you should always tell your insurer. If you don’t then your insurer has every right to cancel your policy or refuse to pay out if you make a claim.

If your insurance costs are calculated on incorrect information, it’s unreasonable for the insurer to pay out. So, it’s important you be honest with them.

if in doubt, contact your insurer directly before you make any modifications. This lets you see how these modifications are likely to change your insurance costs before you commit to buying them.

Many motorbike modifications are valued at a standard price. If you feel your modifications are tricky to value, or if your motorbike is custom-made, then it's worth considering agreed value on the policy.

If your dream machine’s written off, the payout you get could be significantly lower than what it's actually worth. Not to mention all the time and effort you've put into it, especially if it's a custom ride.

AN agreed value policy pays out an agreed specific value if your motorbike is written off, rather than at market value.

You need to send your insurer proof including:

  • Photographs
  • Details of your motorcycle's spec
  • Receipts and other proof of purchase

If you’re planning to sell your motorbike in the medium or long term then a standard-spec machine might be easier to sell on.

If you’ve an older machine or classic motorbike and it has potential to appreciate in value, modifying isn’t usually a good idea. The more tweaks you make, the less interest you might generate when you come to sell.

If you make too many changes to your machine, you could change its character, or make it less safe. So make sure any modifications are properly set up. 

There are several ways to get cheaper modified motorbike insurance. Here are our top tips:

  • Comparing motorcycle insurance is a good start
  • Limiting your annual mileage - the more miles you ride, the more at risk you are of making a claim
  • Consider an advanced riding course to improve your road safety

For more information, read our tips for cheaper motorbike insurance.

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