Concluding a two-part feature on motorcycle insurance, Peter Farmer looks at additional cover options commonly available and reviews the various conditions and exceptions that typically apply.

Third party only cover protects motorcyclists against liability for damage or injury to others, but does nothing to provide cover for their own property.

This need can be met by third party fire and theft (TPFT) policies, which include cover for the bike itself, including damage caused by fire or lightning and theft or attempted theft.

TPFT policies, however, normally exclude cover for accidental damage to the vehicle itself, accessories stolen separately from the bike itself and loss or damage caused when the keys have been left in the ignition or elsewhere about the vehicle.

Comprehensive policies augment TPFT cover with protection against damage to the motorcycle due to other causes.

Although a typical comprehensive policy might sound all-encompassing in stating that "cover applies to loss or damage to your motorcycle", there are generally still aspects of cover specifically excluded, as we shall see below.

Bikers making claims under TPFT or comprehensive policies can normally expect to be compensated through payments to cover any necessary repairs or a cash sum equal to or less than the market value of the machine in question.

Claims settlement
If the vehicle is subject to a leasing or hire purchase agreement, the company concerned will have first call on any claims settlement, with the owner receiving any surplus or, by the same token, being responsible for making up any shortfall.

The exclusions mentioned above would typically include some or all of the following:

  • Loss of use (including hire costs for alternative vehicles)
  • Wear and tear, loss of value (depreciation)
  • Mechanical breakdown or failure
  • Damage to tyres from punctures, cuts or blow-outs
  • Loss of value following repairs
  • Loss or damage where possession is gained by deception or fraud
  • Repossession of the machine by its rightful owner
  • Additional damage caused where the bike is moved under its own power following an accident
  • Loss or damage to helmets or protective clothing
  • Confiscation, requisition or destruction by local authority or government.
  • Higher excesses
    Insurers would normally impose an excess ranging between £100 and £250 to deter claims for relatively minor damage, with higher excesses usually applicable to young or inexperienced drivers, or those with powerful or expensive bikes.

    It may sometimes be possible for policyholders to opt for a higher excess in return for a reduced premium.

    Policies sometimes include cover in other EU countries to the same level as in the UK (wordings should be carefully checked to see whether advanced notification of any overseas trips is required).

    Some include this cover only where specifically requested and charge an additional premium, while others include cover for a limited number of days and charge extra for any period of cover required beyond this.

    Some insurers will provide breakdown cover as an optional extra, to include a roadside repair scheme or recovery and delivery to the owner's nominated repairer.

    Another common cover extension is for legal protection (though some insurers now offer this as standard). This covers legal costs incurred in recovering uninsured losses, with a maximum sum insured of £50,000 or £100,000 per incident.

    This additional cover is normally offered by a separate specialist insurer who will honour claims only where there is a reasonable chance of recovering at least some part of the insured's losses.

    Some insurers may be prepared to offer a lower premium in return for limited mileage, but it is important to check the consequences of exceeding the stated limit. Some also now offer discounts to female motorcyclists to reflect their statistically lower accident rates.

    Given that motorcycle theft is a growing problem in the UK, it is not surprising that some insurers impose higher policy excesses for theft or charge inflated premiums for perceived high theft risk policyholders (for example, where there is a previous claims history, for high-risk areas, machines or overnight locations).

    Some will offer a no claims discount, but this is not standard industry practice as it is with private motor insurance. The discount, where offered, can vary from 10% for one claims-free year to as much as 30% to 50% for four or more claims-free years.

    Standard policy conditions would include compliance with a prescribed claims process (including notification of accidents and the need to avoid admitting responsibility), and the stipulation that the rights of the policyholder pass to the insurer once the claim is paid, with any applicable recoveries from third parties going to the insurer (subrogation).

    Another standard condition, under the heading of contribution, is that where more than one insurer covers the same loss, the costs should be shared, with the policyholder obliged to advise each of the other's existence.

    Typical conditions and exceptions under bike insurance policies include a right of recovery (the insurer's right to recover from the policyholder any costs they have been paid purely due to the requirements of the Road Traffic Acts).

    Another is arbitration (the condition that any disputes between insurer and policyholder should be referred to an independent arbitrator for resolution).

    To bring a successful claim under the policy the insured must also meet all terms, conditions and endorsements of the policy and have taken all reasonable steps to protect the motorcycle from loss or damage and maintain it in good working order. IT

    ' Peter Farmer is a director of Searchlight Solutions. This feature is based on materials available on Searchlight's e-learning system, Tick

    How your motorcycle is rated
    Factors taken into consideration by underwriters when rating motorcycle cover include:

  • The cubic capacity of the engine
  • The make and model
  • The district in which the bike is kept
  • Where the bike is kept overnight (with garaged vehicles attracting lower premiums and discounts available for the use of approved security devices)
  • The age and experience of the policyholder and any other riders
  • The type of cover required (TPFT, comprehensive, etc)
  • Any additional cover required
  • Intended use (social, domestic and pleasure, commuting or business).
  • Take our motorbike cover test
    Q1. Name three types of loss commonly excluded from comprehensive motorcycle insurance cover

    Q2. Insurers commonly apply higher excesses to which categories of motorcyclist?

    Q3. The maximum per incident sum insured for legal protection cover would typically fall within what range?

    Q4. Under what circumstances will specialist legal protection insurers normally be prepared to pay out?

    Q5. No claims bonuses are a standard feature of motorcycle insurance: true or false?

    1. Any three from: loss of use, wear and tear, loss of value/depreciation, mechanical breakdown, tyre damage, loss of value following repair, losses due to deception or fraud, damage when moved under power post-accident, loss or damage to helmets/protective clothing, confiscation, requisition or destruction. 2. Younger or inexperienced drivers or those with powerful or expensive bikes. 3. £50,000 to £100,000. 4. Where there is a reasonable chance of the insured recovering some or all of their losses. 5. False.