MCN investigates insurance costs

Published: 08 July 2001

INSURANCE has become a bit of a dirty word to many motorcyclists in recent years.

From riders who find they can’t get insurance on their bikes, to those who get a renewal notice asking for £2000, sorry tales are commonplace.

But it’s easy to believe things are worse than they actually are. An MCN investigation has revealed that the average cost of motorcycle insurance in Britain is actually closer to the £250 mark than £1000 plus – indicating that, for many riders, insurance may not be such a nightmare after all.

Norwich Union, the country’s leading motorcycle insurance provider, says the average cost of a new policy is just £265. Devitt DA, another leading motorcycle insurance provider, says its average bike policy is even less, at £250.

What’s more, according to Devitt DA, only seven per cent of riders insured with the firm pay over £1000 – and 10 per cent pay £100 or less.

This may seem of little consolation if you’re one of the seven per cent who pay triple figures. But with the help of Devitt DA, we can reveal exactly who this average £250-policy rider is, and what you can do to make your insurance quote closer to his. And yes, it is possible.

James Bridge, Devitt DA’s new business manager, was able to provide us with a detailed profile of the average £250-policy rider, including what bike he rides. And it’s not a C90.

According to Bridge, he’s a 33-year-old married man living in Ipswich.

" He’s employed in the manufacturing business, " he said. " He rides a 1998 Honda Hornet valued at £3500. He uses it to travel to work and clocks up around 5000 miles a year. He has no special security but does keep his bike in a locked garage when at home. He has four years’ no claims bonus and fully comprehensive cover. "

That may not sound a lot like you. But you don’t have to chop in your job and move to Ipswich to get an insurance quote closer to his. There are other ways to bring the cost down.

" Riders don’t have to own only small bikes in order to secure a very reasonable average insurance premium that equates to just over £20 a month, " added Bridge.

Even if you can’t get a quote as cheap as that, according to Devitt DA, there are still things you do to make your quote cheaper, however much you currently pay.

With Bridge’s help, we’ve brought you the 10 best tips to help significantly reduce your annual premium.

1. INVEST IN SOME SECURITY

In the long run, and approved alarm, immobiliser or even mechanical lock will save you far more the initial cost. " Many firms offer up to 10 per cent discounts for bikes with good levels of security, including Devitt DA, " said Bridge.

2. BECOME MORE PROFICIENT

Advanced training can suddenly seem far more exciting when you learn about the potential insurance savings. " Aim to better your biking skills and pass the advanced motorcycling test. Devitt DA, and many other firms, offer up to 10 per cent discount for riders who have the advanced riding certificate.

3. INCREASE YOUR POLICY EXCESS

For some riders, their annual insurance policies can be almost as much as the value of their bikes. That’s when it’s seriously worth considering this option. " You could receive up to 22 per cent discount for a voluntary £1500 policy excess, " said Bridge.

4. DON’T CLAIM

Any claim, however small, can cost you hundreds when it comes to renewing your policy. It could also prevent you getting your policy renewed at all. So if your bike’s sustained some damage you could have repaired yourself, such as a cracked fairing, think carefully before filling out that claim form. " There’s a 50 per cent discount for riders who build up four years’ no claims, with reduced levels of discount for every year leading up to that point, " said Bridge.

5. PROMISE TO DO LESS MILEAGE

Getting this discount needn’t mean you can’t still do plenty of miles. " If you keep your mileage down, you’ll be rewarded by most insurers, " said Bridge. " We offer discounts for an annual mileage of 3000 miles or less. "

6. BUILD A GARAGE

It may seem a bit of an expensive measure, but this is an investment that could save you lots of money on insuring future bikes, as well as your current one. It will also do a damned good job of stopping your bike getting nicked, meaning you’re less likely to lose you no-claims. " A garage can earn you up to 7 per cent discount, " said Bridge.

7. MOVE HOUSE

You don’t have to move to the other end of the country to get a discount because of your postcode. Just living a bit further out of town could save you cash. Bridge explains: " Generally speaking, urban postcodes equal higher premiums than rural postcodes. Urban areas also vary depending exactly where in the town or city you live. "

If you want to take more drastic measures, Bridge recommends moving to either the Outer Hebrides or Guernsey. " They’re among the country’s lowest-risk areas, " he added.

8. GET MARRIED

It might not be the right reason to tie the not, but the potential discounts are not to be sniffed at. " Single people are considered more of an insurance risk than husbands and wives – and not just in the motorcycle industry, " said Bridge. " It will get you a five per cent discount with Devitt DA. "

9. RIDE AN OLDER BIKE

These days, superbikes which are two or three years old are hardly old dogs. After all, Yamaha launched the R1 back in 1997. " If you ride a brand new machine, it’s going to cost you, " said Bridge. " Bikes that are two or three years old are cheaper to insure, partly because they’re less likely to get stolen.

10. BECOME FEMALE

You’d have to be really paying through the nose to consider this one, but women attract cheaper insurance quotes than men in most insurance industries. " If you’re not a member of the fairer sex already, it might just be worth considering the operation, " joked Bridge. " It’s worth another five per cent discount.

TEN OCCUPATIONS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR INSURANCE PREMIUM

1. Actor

2. Artist

3. Croupier

4. TV presenter

5. Photographer

6. Journalist

7. Pub landlord

8. Sportsman

9. Waiter in licensed premises

10. Dispatch rider/courier.

AND 10 OCCUPATIONS THAT WON’T

1. Bank manager

2. Teacher

3. Office clerk

4. Civil servant

5. Housewife/househusband

6. Lawyer

7. Farmer

8. Retired

9. Operations manager

10. Sales manager

TRAFFIC OFFENCES

GETTING points on your licence is good way to bump your annual premium, but some offences are more expensive than others. Bridge highlighted the least and most costly endorsements to have on your licence. " Three points for speeding may not load the premium at all, " he said. " But six points would. "

" Riding without insurance or while drunk will rocket the premium cost, " he continued. " And as for an endorsement for riding a stolen bike – forget it. You wouldn’t even get a quote. "