We buy scooter insurance as it is a legal requirement to ride on public roads, but also because we want to be covered if we have an accident or our precious bike is stolen. However, if you need to claim but something you did or didn’t do means you won’t get a payout then it could end up being very costly. I would highly recommend reading my scooter insurance tips here, and then checking your policy wording, to avoid some of the pitfalls!
Read your policy!
I recently renewed my scooter insurance and when I was reading my policy document (which I don’t usually do!) I noticed that if a theft or attempted theft happens within 500m of my house and my scooter isn’t in the garage then I’m not covered. As a result of this I checked some of my friends’ policies and found more exclusions which may surprise you.
I would recommend everyone reads this post to get an idea of what to look out for but then read your own policy carefully or send it to me to check. Then if anything is unacceptable you can cancel or amend so that you are covered properly. I’m not trying to scare you, but insurance companies offer cover based on what you declare so it’s vital that it’s accurate, and as the buyer you need to understand exactly what you’ve bought with your hard-earned money.
Compare brokers and speak to a human being!
The first thing to understand when you buy scooter insurance is that you most likely bought your policy through a broker, although some insurers like Hastings offer direct cover. Brokers are middle-men and have access to many insurance schemes which all offer different cover options. Some are simple and cheap, and some are more expensive and comprehensive.
Brokers charge different prices for the same policy too, depending how much commission they want to earn and the terms they get from the insurer, so you must always shop around. It’s also worth haggling as they will often give up some of their profit to win your business.
Therefore although you can potentially buy cheaper cover through a comparison engine, the first of my scooter insurance tips is to speak with a real human being, preferably a specialist in motorbike insurance, who can answer all your questions and point out what you may or may not be covered for.
If you do buy online without speaking to anyone then read the policy carefully and then if anything is wrong you must speak to someone and amend the cover or cancel and requote elsewhere. I spoke to the call centre of an online broker this week and they couldn’t answer any of my questions as they weren’t specialists, so I had no confidence in their cover.
I then had a really informative conversation with a knowledgeable lady at Lexham and I would love to have given her my business but they didn’t offer the multi-bike, multi-rider policy I wanted to buy.
When I read my renewal policy wording I discovered that if my scooter is parked outside my house or maybe at a nearby friend’s house, if it’s within 500 metres of my home and a theft or attempted theft takes place then I’m not covered.
When I looked into this further I found out that this restriction doesn’t apply if the scooter is parked away from the home during the ‘course of a journey’, so for example at a local shop if I need some milk on the way home from work. But it means that if it’s parked outside my house, for example if I’ve just cleaned it (or, more realistically, my husband has!) and it’s waiting to dry then if it’s stolen I won’t be able to claim a penny.
I know that different policies have different exclusion zones, and some are only 250 metres, but essentially you are getting a discount for keeping the scooter in a locked garage so the insurer is ensuring that it’s kept in that garage all the time you’re not riding it.
Other policies only limit where the scooter is parked during night-time hours, for example between 10pm and 6am. So if your policy has any of these restrictions and you do want to insure your scooter when it’s simply parked outside your house then you mustn’t declare it as ‘garaged’ when you do a quote and you will be covered.
It’s hard to avoid shared posts of stolen scooters on Facebook. Not a day goes by without someone’s much-loved Vespa or Lambretta being snatched by thieves, so security is a hot topic. It hopefully goes without saying that if your scooter is stolen with the keys in it, or with it running, then you won’t be able to claim. However, the Lexham lady advised me that some of their policies insist on two methods of security in order to be covered for theft.
This isn’t an issue for modern scooters which have steering locks, alarms, trackers and immobilisers, but for older scooters you may imagine that your reinforced chain and padlock would be enough. This is not necessarily the case, especially if you don’t have a steering lock.
Given that, for this type of scooter insurance policy, you need two methods of security then you would also need something such as a disc lock. The policy documents that I read didn’t have the ‘two forms of security’ clause but it’s best to check your own policy to see if this applies as it could be an expensive mistake if your pride and joy was taken and you hadn’t taken sufficient measures to secure your scooter.
The helpful guys at SLUK have written a helpful post about this if you need more information about the current crimewave.
Riding other bikes
Some policies allow you to ride other scooters with the owner’s permission, assuming you have the relevant licence, but you should be aware that the cover is usually third party only. This means that if you’re involved in a crash then the other vehicle’s damages will be paid for but the damage to the scooter you’re riding won’t. For this reason you must think twice before borrowing your mate’s top custom scoot!
If you want to ride another scooter regularly then see if you can get added as a named rider. It’s not possible on all policies, for example many multi-bike policies will only cover one rider, but if you can’t find one then consider changing insurer to one who allows it.
If you want to ride your scooter to work then you must ensure you have commuting cover. If you only have ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ then you won’t be covered if you crash en route to work or your scooter is stolen from the office car park.
You will pay extra for this cover, as you would be a higher risk than if your scooter was parked at home, but it needn’t cost much more. There are two types of commuting, either to a fixed place of work or to any place of business which may be needed if you travel around for your job, and you will be asked about this when you obtain a quote.
I added commuter cover to my scooter insurance policy recently after realising I wasn’t covered, and it was only an extra £12 for the year. One of my biggest scooter insurance tips is to not be worried if you need to change your policy as it needn’t be expensive or long-winded but will give you peace of mind.
Let’s face it, one of the best things about owning a scooter is making it your own. Whether it’s a nice paintjob, decals, accessories or chrome, it’s nice to make it unique. However, if your scooter has ANY modification, even cosmetic, then it’s vital you disclose it when you receive a quote. The small print in my policy gives examples such as changes to suspension or brakes, exhaust changes and changes to the bodywork. A car insurance claim was nearly refused due to stickers being added to the bonnet, and although common sense prevailed in the end it’s just not worth the risk so do declare all the accessories you have lovingly fitted.
When I was reading my husband’s policy there is a clause right at the bottom which says if he makes a claim under fire, theft or damage to his scooter then he can only claim up to £500 to reinstate specialist paintwork, engraving or precious metals. Given that he has a custom Lambretta chopper with murals and a ton of engraving, £500 is not going to go very far to reinstate it if it is damaged.
Do check your scooter insurance policy for this type of clause if you have a decent paint job, and to be honest any paint job is going to cost more than £500, it doesn’t have to be as special as the show-winning example below!
Some policies exclude cover for your helmet or protective clothing, and since these can be extremely expensive it’s worth knowing this if you need to claim.
Riding your scooter abroad
Many scooter insurance policies cover you for riding abroad, usually in EU states plus countries like Norway and Switzerland. There is often a limit such as 90 days, but this is a useful feature if you ride to any Euro rallies, so worth seeking out as it would most likely be cheaper than paying for a separate European policy.
If you do ride a scooter abroad, whether your own or a rental bike, check the terms of your travel insurance as many only cover bikes under 125cc and only if you’re wearing a helmet. If you have a crash then medical costs abroad can be astronomical so it’s vital that you read the terms of your travel insurance policy to understand what you are covered for.
Extra cover options
Although there are lots of extra add-ons to a scooter insurance policy, such as legal and breakdown cover, other options include excess cover and gap insurance. Excess cover is like an additional policy where your excess will be refunded should you need to claim. Excesses vary but if you want to protect this potential cost then excess cover can cost as little as £20.
Another type of cover is gap insurance, or ‘agreed value’. Some policies, like the one I was quoted by Carol Nash recently, include this as standard. You take photos of your scooter and if the insurance company agree its market value then you will receive that amount should it get stolen or written off. For some policies you will pay extra, or it could be a separate cover completely like in my policy. I paid an extra £50 or so for both my scooters to have an agreed value, which is peace of mind should the worst happen.
It’s easier than you think to change your scooter insurance policy part way through the year. As I said above, I needed to add commuting cover and it was sorted with a quick phone call. Brokers actually like it if you change cover during the year as they can charge you an amendment fee – but you can often negotiate to reduce this.
For my cover I didn’t have to pay a fee as my policy was relatively new, but don’t let any fees put you off. If you compare a £20 fee to the value of your scooter if you are not able to claim for something you didn’t disclose then it is money well spent.
Make sure you let the insurance company know if anything changes during the year, for example if you change job or move house. Anything which has changed from what was originally disclosed should be updated on their systems and may not necessarily affect the cost.
More scooter insurance tips?
If you have experienced issues when claiming, or find other exclusions to your policy which others may not be aware of, please leave a comment below as I’d love to share them.
Other blogs you may be interested in include
- the 2019 rally dates,
- my tips for the Isle of Wight Scooter Rally,
- my favourite 80s Custom Scooters and
- my interview with Norrie Kerr about his first scooter rally.
With Christmas fast approaching, here are some ideas for the scooter lover in your life!
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