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Wearing top-name motorcycle helmet could cost you thousands, say testers

Published: 24 September 2008

Updated: 19 November 2014

Wearing a crash helmet which failed to score the maximum five stars in new safety tests could mean less compensation after a crash, according to experts.

Insurers will argue it was your choice to wear only a three-or-four-star helmet and that you are therefore partly responsible for the extent of any injuries, it was claimed.

Helmets to achieve fewer than five stars in new Government-approved tests include trusted prestige brands such Arai, Shoei, AGV and Suomy.

Arai’s £300 GP5x got five stars in the so called SHARP tests but the firm’s £450 range-topping RX-7 scored only three, while its £200 Condor got just two. Shoei’s £330 XR-1000 and Suomy’s £400 Extreme also gained three stars.

Meanwhile five-star helmets include Lazer’s £60 LZ6, Bell’s £130 M1 and HJC’s £249 HQ-1.

A leading independent helmet testing laboratory claimed solicitors would seize upon the new star ratings to argue riders in low-rated helmets deserved a smaller payout after a crash, even if the accident was not their fault. Paul Walker, of Head Protection Evaluations (HPE), which tests to the U.S. recognised helmet standard, said it would be argued riders could have helped prevent their own injuries by choosing a five-star helmet instead.

HPE’s Paul Walker said the testing house was already frequently contacted by solicitors seeking advice in cases where it was argued a motorcyclist “should have been wearing a better helmet”. He said the number of similar cases was growing, indicating solicitors and insurers were looking more closely at helmet quality, and the star rating would be prove perfect ammunition. 

He said: “I expect those cases to come along in due course, when certain clever lawyers working on behalf of insurers say you chose a one-star helmet so your claim for half a million can be reduced to £100,000.”

Arai UK’s John Wakefield said: “We’ll be asking HPE to keep us informed on this because it’s obviously very important.”

Steve Clifford, of Shoei’s UK distributor, said: “It’s a definite concern.”

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