How to ensure that your insurance cover is valid
- Provide a correct home address
- Avoid doing more miles than you say and choosing an incorrect use class
- Use your garage
- Avoid fronting
- Be transparent about pillion passengers
- Avoid false security claims
- Be clear when buying a standard bike and adding mods
- Be clear when riding at unusual locations
- Notify your insurance company of minor collisions
- Be precise when making a SORN declaration
If you, like many riders, have now stored your motorbike away for the winter and declared it SORN, or begun making some minor modifications without informing your insurance company, there’s a strong chance your policy has now been invalidated.
To make sure you don’t run the risk of leaving your pride and joy effectively uninsured and having any future claims rejected, we have compiled a handy guide to keeping on the right side of your coverage provider. Aren’t we nice?
Provide a correct home address
As you probably already know, your postcode has a huge impact on the price of your bike insurance. That’s because different areas inevitably have different crime and accident rates, factors your insurer will take into account when providing an insurance quote.
As a general rule of thumb, insurance costs tend to be higher in big cities than quieter, rural areas, which is why someone living in the centre of a big city might be tempted to say their bike is stored at a relative’s suburban address.
However, the bottom line is that this false information is a legitimate reason for an insurance company to reject any claims made. Furthermore, with the investigative departments of insurance companies actively checking claims, the chances of you being found out for using a different address are very high.
Avoid doing more miles than you say and choosing an incorrect use class
You know roughly how many miles you’re going to do on your motorbike each year. An approximate calculation based on the number of times you’ll use it and how far you’ll ride will give you a pretty good ballpark figure and that’s what you should tell your insurance company.
However, some people choose to deliberately underestimate their annual mileage to secure a cheaper insurance premium (note, this isn’t always cheaper as insurers have become wise and often load for low milage).
The problem is that doing significantly more miles than you’ve stated is a surefire way to invalidate your policy and have any future claims rejected.
Another factor that could definitely invalidate your insurance is if you use your motorbike for commuting, but don’t say so. People often get caught out with this because they don’t realise that even just riding their bike to the local train station each day is classed by the insurance companies as commuting.
Policies that cover social use only do just that and you could inadvertently invalidate your bike insurance by riding to and from work or using your bike in a business capacity.
Be honest about your occupation
A little white lie when it comes to your occupation isn’t going to hurt, right? Wrong! Like your home address, your occupation is a factor that has a direct impact on your policy and premium. That’s because certain jobs are deemed riskier than others and that, in theory, it gives insurers an idea of how you might be riding your bike.
For example, a professional stunt rider is probably going to pay more for bike insurance than a vicar. Be as accurate as possible when stating your occupation and industry or you could find your insurance is invalid.
Similarly, you should always notify your insurance company if your occupation changes. Even if you’re still working for the same company, a promotion could invalidate your bike insurance if you don’t declare it. Don’t take that risk.
Contact your insurance company immediately whenever any of your personal circumstances change. Waiting for policy renewal time is too late.
If you’re 21-years-old and have zero no-claims bonus there’s a good chance your insurance premium (depending on your bike) is going to be pretty hefty. It’s a reality that makes the practice of ‘fronting’ very tempting for young riders or other high risk groups.
Fronting is basically where a low-risk driver, such as a parent or relative, is named as the main policy holder and the real motorist is added as a named rider. The result is usually a cheaper insurance premium
Be warned though, fronting is classed as insurance fraud and not only will your policy be ultimately invalid and cancelled if your insurer finds out, you could also face criminal charges, too.
Be transparent about pillion passengers
Many people don’t realise that having a pillion can immediately invalidate your bike insurance. That’s why if you have a spouse or partner who you know will frequently ride pillion on your motorcycle, you must get appropriate insurance to cover this.
Some insurance companies even refuse to cover riders of certain bikes who want to have a passenger riding pillion.
Again, it’s better to keep yourself covered at all times and be sure to choose the right options when you get your quotes or your circumstances change otherwise you could find your insurance is invalid and any claims immediately rejected.
Avoid false security claims
If your bike isn’t fitted with a GPS tracking device and isn’t secured with a heavy duty chain attached to a ground anchor every night, then don’t tell your insurance company that it is. Should it get stolen, your insurer will almost certainly want to see where your bike was parked and secured at the time. A non-existent ground anchor will raise many questions and could see your insurance invalidated.
Obviously, one-off occasions when you park your bike somewhere that doesn’t have a ground anchor are to be expected, but your home garage should definitely have one if you’ve told your insurance company that you have one.
To read more about motorbike security see our article on how theft security can affect your bike insurance.
Be clear when buying a standard bike and adding mods
Undocumented modifications are one of the main reasons why bike insurance policies are invalidated. A lot of the time, bike owners don’t even know that what they’ve done constitutes a modification.
Even extremely simple additions, like adding new stickers, could be classed as a modification and render your insurance invalid. Some modifications even need to be declared to the DVLA: complete colour changes, engine/frame number changes and so on.
However, don’t think that all modifications are going to cause your premium to increase. Security mods, such as having an alarm/immobiliser professionally fitted, are likely to help reduce your premium.
Be clear when riding at unusual locations
Have you got a penchant for taking your bike to trackdays? If you have it could, depending on your cover, cause your insurance to be invalidated.
Taking your bike to the Isle of Man TT (which isn’t considered part of the UK) or for a quick blast around the Nürburgring, for example, could invalidate your insurance cover. It’s worth checking the small print of your policy as certain companies do cover this.
Notify your insurance company of minor collisions
Sometimes, very minor collisions occur that only cause cosmetic damage and don’t justify making a claim on your insurance. However, you should always notify your insurer of any collision or accident, no matter how minor, or you could invalidate your insurance; it’s been known for the other party who at the time say it’s no problem and they see no damage to then involve their insurers at a later date.
Minor damage could invalidate a much larger claim in the future, so it’s always best to be upfront and honest with your insurer.
Be precise when making a SORN declaration
If you’re a fair weather rider, you might store your bike over the winter and declare it as being off the road to the DVLA by completing a Statutory Off-Road notification (SORN).
There’s actually bespoke laid up/SORN insurance cover out there for just this type of situation. To be safe, contact your provider and tell them about your plans ahead of time to see if your current policy is suitable or if they can provide you with one that is.
To avoid any problems further down the line and ensure your insurance is always valid, thoroughly read your policy documents. If you can’t find an answer in them, contact your broker for further assistance.
Ensuring insurance validity generally comes down to common sense: be transparent and as accurate as possible.
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Written by Jon Urry, MCN Journalist.
Reviewed on 14th February 2019 by Andrew Campbell, MCN Legal Advisor.
Edited by Sian Daly, MCN Compare content editor.
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