Why you pay what you do for insurance

Published: 11 February 2002

Insurance is something that always plays on our minds, but never more so than now - because over the next few weeks more of us renew our policy than at any other time of the year.

That means around 205,000 of us are currently waiting for a renewal notice to land on our doormats – out of a total market of around 900,000 – and asking ourselves the kinds of questions only an insurance company can answer.

Questions like: Why do I pay more because of my job? Does my postcode cost me money? How likely is it my bike will get nicked?

So we’ve got together with top insurer Carole Nash, which brokers policies for one in five of us, to answer all the questions you ask us most often and a few you don’t...

How your premium stacks up:

We asked Carole Nash to dig out its most extreme examples of bike insurance premiums, and the UK average.

Higest premium: Rider: Company director, 51, from London Policy: Fully comprehensive Bike: Boss Hoss V8, valued at £21,000 Cost: £2600 a year

Lowest premium: Rider: Retired, 65, from Staffordshire Policy: Fully comprehensive (classic) Bike: BSA A65, valued at £5000 Cost: £30 a year

Average premium: Rider: Office worker, 42, from Northampton Policy: Fully comprehensive Bike: BMW R1100RT, valued at £3000 Cost: £232 a year

Highest claim ever: Carole Nash told us its biggest bike claim was for £1.2 million after a rider piled into a bus queue. It sounds a lot, but it pales beside the biggest claim by a driver. That was for £50 million against the man who caused the Selby rail disaster.

Occupation:

IT’S a fact that some occupations attract a higher insurance premium. You may think it’s because the underwriter has made careful calculations and worked out that people who do your job simply cost them more in claims. But at first glance, the latest figures for 2001-2002 don’t bear that out.

The " most likely " table shows who will claim for an accident, in order, and includes some occupations which don’t typically incur loading on policies, such as engineer and retiree.

The " least likely " list, on the other hand, includes some occupations which historically do incur loading, such as licensee.

Carole Nash’s marketing manager Warren Dickson attempted to explain. " Some of the figures surprised us, " he said. " Licensees may have once had to pay extra, but they don’t any more. We certainly don’t charge them more, anyway.

" Where retirees are concerned, it’s possible they’re more prone to accidents because they’re free to ride all day, whereas people like us are stuck in the office. But the accidents they have tend to be less serious and involve lower costs. "

According to Jenny Chapman, of Norwich Union, high-risk occupations are identified " partly through claims experience and partly on Association of British Insurers (ABI) guidelines " .

And Malcolm Tarling, spokesman for the ABI, also reckons high-risk occupations are identified on the basis of " claims experience. " But, significantly, he also acknowledges that to an extent the decision comes down to perceptions of a particular job.

Interestingly, the figures also show that, despite all their safe riding campaigns, the police need to go back to the drawing board and examine their own riding.

The figures only reflect crashes while riding for pleasure, otherwise professional riders like couriers would top the list.

Most likely to crash

1. Engineer 2. Manager 3. HGV driver 4. Police officer 5. Student 6. Company director 7. Retiree 8. Electrician 9. Factory worker 10. Unemployed

Leas likely to crash

1.Lecturer 2.Housing officer 3.Surgeon 4.Gardener 5.Tax officer 6. Surveyor 7.Pharmacist 8.Health inspector 9.Licensee 10. Financial advisor

Bikes:

Riding a superbike doesn’t make you more likely to bin it. And the most popular bike for us isn’t necessarily the most popular for thieves.

The table shows that the most commonly crashed bike insured by Carole Nash is the Fazer 600.

" Fazers are high-mileage bikes compared to other 600s, the most popular category. And they’re very popular for commuters. So they run a higher risk of a crash, albeit a lower speed one than other bikes, " said Dickson.

Although they are crashed more, the Fazer is obviously far cheaper to insure than the R1.

That’s because they are cheaper to repair and the slower speeds they crash at means the value of the claim is much less.

The theft table above also shows that although the best-selling bike in the UK is the CBR600, the one that gets nicked the most is Yamaha’s R6.

Dr Ken German, Scotland Yard’s vehicle crime prevention officer, said: " 600s are the most popular for thieves because they are the easiest for them to shift. Crooks will steal what people want and the R6 is in demand. "

More than 8000 bikes a year are stolen in the UK. The table on theft devices shows how you can best stop your bike becoming one of the statistics.

" Used individually, that’s how effective each type of device is in order, according to our claims details, " said Dickson. " At the end of the day, the most effective method is to use an alarm, immobiliser and a mechanical lock, like a good chain and ground anchor.

" Security markings like Datatag and SmartWater are all well and good for helping the police find out where a bike or part of a bike has come from once they’ve realised it’s stolen.

" But when was the last time the police stopped you and checked the individual parts on your bike? " By the time it’s returned to you, if ever, you’re likely to have claimed on your insurance and replaced it. It’s better if it doesn’t get nicked in the first place. "

The popularity of scooters among city riders is reflected in their high positions on the theft table. They tend to be owned by drivers who aren’t used to the high theft risk associated with a bike. As a result, they aren’t locked properly and provide easy pickings.

Most crashed bikes:

1. Yamaha Fazer 600 2. Honda VFR800 3. Honda VFR750 4. Yamaha R1 5. Kawasaki ZZ-R600 6. Honda FireBlade 7. Suzuki SV650S 8. Honda CBR1000XX 9. Suzuki Bandit 600 10 Honda CBR600

MOST STOLEN BIKES

1.Yamaha R6 2.Suzuki GSX-R600 3.Honda CBR600 4.Yamaha R1 5.Honda CG125 6.Honda C90 7.Kawasaki ZX-6R 8.Piaggio Vespa ET4 9.Gilera Runner 125. 10.Honda FireStorm

Best security devices:

1. Thatcham-approved combined alarm and immobiliser

2. Thatcham-approved immobiliser

3. Sold Secure-approved mechanical lock

4. Datatag security markings

5. SmartWater

Location:

London is where you’re most at risk of either crashing or having your bike stolen.

" Scooter thefts and commuter accidents push

up the figures in the capital, " said Dickson. " The same applies to the north-west, which contains Manchester and Liverpool. We were also surprised by the high number of crashes on the south coast. "

Kevin Delany, the RAC’s road safety manager, has one explanation for that: " It could be the number of commuters, but more likely it’s the popularity of the region as a destination for ridouts in the summer. "

WORST area for THEFTS

1. London 2. North-west 3.Yorkshire 4.North-east 5.Wales 6.Midlands 7.South coast 8.South 9.South-west 10.Scotland

WORST for ACCIDENTS

1.London 2.South coast 3.South 4.North-west 5.South-west 6.Scotland 7.Midlands 8.North-east 9.Wales 10.Yorkshire

We shouldn’t laugh, but….

Some insurance claims are more believable than others. Classics like " I turned into a driveway that wasn’t mine and hit a tree I don’t have " or " I had come to a halt, when

I was hit from behind by a stationary vehicle " , have passed into legend. These are some of the most bizarre claims that have passed across the desks of underwriters at Carole Nash in 2001:

A 48-year-old from Middlesex thought he’d done everything possible to secure his £9500 MV Agusta F4 when he locked it in his garage, parked his car between it and the door, chained it to the wall and double-padlocked his garage door. But he hadn’t counted on thieves dismantling the wall from the outside and stealing both the bike and the breeze-block it was secured to.

After a satisfying rideout, a 32-year-old man from Birmingham parked his pristine R1 on his drive and stood back to admire his pride and joy – just before his wife reversed out of the garage and parked on top of it, completely writing it off. Unbeknown to him, she’d entered the garage from an internal door between it and the house.

Hay fever can completely ruin your summer, as a 53-year-old from Cumbria discovered when he sneezed so badly that, blinded by the snot covering the inside of his visor, he crashed and wrote-off his £6000 BMW R1100RT.

We all know the hazards of diesel, but a 38-year-old from Derbyshire discovered the danger of swedes, when one fell from a passing farmer’s truck on the Cat & Fiddle run, causing him to crash and write-off his £4500 Suzuki Bandit 1200.

Farmers weren’t the only ones who paid for foot and mouth. Carole Nash alone dealt with 23 claims for crashes caused by disinfected mats laid on the road during the crisis. The total bill was over £50,000.