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February 01, 2020 4 min read
The issue of ever-increasing insurance premiums is something every road user has to reluctantly contend with. The annual pantomime of spending hours poring over a price comparison website or sitting on hold for hours to our current provider listening to elevator music is one of the less welcome aspects of biking. However, there are certain tips over and above the usual ones involving no claims discounts and voluntary excesses, that can help reduce your premiums.
Whilst this sounds obvious, it is too often overlooked. Although insurance companies would never admit it, many of them rely on what is known as “consumer inertia” to boost their bottom line. It’s a familiar scenario - your insurance comes up for renewal, your renewal notification contains a hefty increase on the previous year but you pay it simply to avoid the hassle of shopping around. However, a bit of judicious haggling, particularly when armed with a few facts and figures from other providers, can be a very worthwhile use of time. Your current provider will want to hold on to your business, so if you can have a reasoned discussion with them and be able to quote to them a cheaper deal offered by a rival (with the same parameters of course), you stand a chance of both beating down the price and saving yourself the hassle of setting up a new policy.
Whilst all price comparison websites should (at least in theory) offer the same deals, they don’t always. It’s well worth using at least two comparison sites (using exactly the same parameters around mileage, bike security, overnight location etc). This way you can be sure you are reducing the chances of missing out on a specific provider, as well as creating a target price for your existing provider to beat.
Not all providers will give a discount for holders of the coveted green badge, but many do. This is particularly the case with IAM Surety, the IAM’s official insurance partner.
Obviously you must always tell the truth to your insurance provider in all circumstances, and giving misleading information for a quote is an offence and will in all probability invalidate the insurance in the event of a claim. However, carefully choosing your words (without changing the truth) can save money (price comparison websites allow you to test the impact of different permutations of the facts). For example, a motorcycling journalist is reported to have saved over £800 on bike insurance by referring to his occupation as a “writer in publishing” rather than the previously used “journalist in the national press”. Both are of course accurate, but for reasons best known to the algorithms used by the insurance Actuaries calculating the statistical risk that sets premiums, one is considered a lower risk than the other. Occupation can make a big difference to premiums with jobs such as journalist, fruit picker, painter, barber, waiter/waitress and construction worker likely to result in a higher premium than would otherwise be the case. Conversely, occupations such as secretary, local government officer, book-keeper, teacher and police officer can often benefit from lower premiums (as can those who have retired).
Marital status is also a key factor, with single people often seen as a higher risk (and thus subject to a higher premium), than married people.
If possible, try to pay your insurance premium annually rather than monthly. Insurance providers will generally charge a high rate of interest for monthly payments, so these are best avoided. A zero percent credit card is one option which would allow the benefit of staggered payments without the interest costs.
Whilst extra features, such as legal cover, breakdown cover, leathers/helmet cover or a replacement bike in the event of an accident can be useful, consider carefully if you really need them.
If you ride an older machine, it can in some cases, be that insuring your bike with classic insurance works out cheaper. The definition of what constitutes a classic varies from provider to provider, but some insurance companies start offering classic insurance for machines as young as 15 years old. Classic insurance can be cheaper (in some, but not all circumstances) given that mileages are generally lower, classic bikes are statistically a lower risk and in some (but again not all) cases, replacement parts and repairs can be cheaper. Check carefully the definition of what constitutes a classic bike with your chosen provider.
Bikes with significant modifications or add-ons, can up your premium significantly. Don’t forget to declare any modifications or after-market accessories such as luggage, non-standard screens, quick-shifters, tail tidies etc.
The lower your mileage, the lower a statistical risk of the insurance company needing to pay a claim. If you don’t commute, make sure you tell the provider this – it can often markedly lower your premium.
As with commuting, if you don’t ever intend to carry a pillion passenger, tell the provider when obtaining a quote because it can lower the premium - two people on board is (from the insurance company’s perspective) twice the potential financial risk as one person. A word of warning – if your insurance policy doesn’t cover pillions, make sure you don’t ever ride two up – any claim made whilst riding with a pillion is very likely to be invalid if you aren’t insured for passengers.
The scourge of ever-increasing motorcycle theft is one of the key drivers of upward movements in insurance prices. If at all possible, keep your bike locked in a garage at night. If you don’t have a garage, it might be a worthwhile investment renting one – in one case, a LAMkin was quoted £4,000 for insuring a GS parked on the street outside his house, but only £400 for the same bike locked in a garage. The £90 per month spent renting a garage from the local authority was more than offset by the £3,600 annual saving. Judicious use of locks, chains, alarms, trackers and immobilisers will all help to reduce premiums.
Combining car and bike insurance (known as “six wheel policies”) can save money in some, but all cases. Similarly, if you own more than one bike, it is well worth exploring the potential savings to be had from having more than one bike on the same policy.
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