Policy

QUESTION:
Why canít I find any big name companies to insure my motorbike? My car insurance company wonít offer me a quote and my house insurance company says it doesnít cover bikes either. Iím not keen on going to some tiny insurance company Iíve never heard of.

ANSWER:
Getting bike cover can seem like a step in the dark. Of the big insurance names only Norwich Union and The AA are likely to offer cover to bike owners - most of their rival insurers seem to think the risks of theft or damage are too high for them to bother covering bikes. Fortunately the smaller companies which specialise in bike insurance can be a pleasure to deal with Ė most are staffed by bike enthusiasts so you wonít end up speaking to people who simply read out scripts from computer screens when they sell their policies.

Scott Walker of Europa, which offers policies through The AA, says most of his staff are bikers and that this extra knowledge helps them talk callers through their options. Other long-established bike companies such as Bennetts are also staffed with bike owners so you should get expert help there as well.

QUESTION:
But isnít it risky taking out a policy from some small company Iíve never heard of? They might sound convincing on the phone but how will I know Iím really covered if things go wrong?

ANSWER:
It is always worth checking who you are dealing with before handing over any money. The Financial Services Authority regulates most of the financial world in Britain and it can tell you if a company is legally authorised to be doing business. Get more information on its website, www.fsa.gov.uk. As well as background information on who can take client money and what sort of protection you get if things go wrong you can also use the FSAís Ďfirm checkí facility to investigate the credentials of individual companies. It is also important to make sure you know if you are dealing direct with an insurance company like Norwich Union or with a broker or intermediary who shops around among many other insurers for you.

The AA and most of the other motor bike specialists come into the second category. Using brokers can make sense because they look at so many policies before finding the most suitable for clients. Express Insurance, for example, reckons it has around 16 providers on its books, some rivals claim to link up with even more. The good news is that if you approach a handful of brokers you should be able to spread your net really widely. Almost every provider will offer no obligation quotes by phone or online. Putting some time aside for some calls or surfing can make sure you cover most of the market and save a decent amount of cash.

QUESTION:
Will I still get a decent policy if I leave my bike on the street every night?

ANSWER:
Security is one of the biggest problems for bike owners Ė some 35,000 bikes are stolen each year and the police admit little more than 5,000 of them are ever recovered. So if you can garage your bike at nights you should get a cheaper insurance quote. Owners who donít have access to a garage need to shop around even harder for the right policy Ė the lowest cost provider for bikes left outside in London may be different to the best buy for bikes left on the street in other parts of the country, for example.

Insurers and the police suggest taking other steps to protect you bike and reduce your chances of claiming on a policy. If you can install a proper bolt to your garden wall then your bike will obviously be safer, for example, while paying a few hundred pounds for a proper tracker device can cut your premiums or buy you better cover.

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