Our specialist motoring solicitor Andrew Prendergast guides readers through their legal trials and troubles...
Q I bought an Africa Twin about six months ago. It was the first new bike I have ever had and to say it was my pride and joy is an understatement. The plan had been to get the bike set up and then set off around the world next year. I used a comparison website to get the insurance. However, I had to tick the option of it being stored in a brick garage overnight. This was because the website did not have an option of keeping it in a canvas motorbike tent. Anyway, long story short is my bike got stolen about a month ago (the thieves cut off two locks and took it straight out of my front gate!) and my insurer is refusing to pay out because it wasn’t in a “garage”. I am fuming as I have effectively been robbed twice. Can I take my insurer to court? Also, my trip may have to be cancelled. Can I also claim for that?
A Firstly, I am genuinely sickened to hear your motorbike got stolen. However, you will lose if you go to court. This is because a judge will find you did not obtain the policy with “clean hands” i.e. you did not declare properly where the bike was being stored. If you had done I suspect the premium would have been more as the risk of it being stolen from the tent in your front garden would have been greater than if it was in a brick garage. I wish I could give you different advice but if you are in breach of a specific term of your policy, then your insurers are right in their refusal to pay out under your policy and there is very little that legal proceedings is likely to achieve apart from lighten your pocket of further money.
Q I traded in my old bike for a second-hand BMW R1200RT. Since the start of the spring I have put about 5000 miles on it. All was well until I had to yank on the anchors last week as I thought I saw a deer. Unfortunately the front end tucked under me and I clattered off. I was okay but my wife riding as pillion broke her arm. I have never fallen off before and have my RoSPA Gold award. I honestly do not think there was anything I could have done to avoid the situation and wonder if there was something wrong with the bike i.e. the suspension wasn’t set up properly. Is there anyone my wife can claim against for her injuries i.e. the dealer who sold us the bike?
A Ockham’s razor. A Latin phrase that basically means the best explanation is the simplest. While it may be a bitter pill to swallow, I would suggest the reason you fell off is because you suddenly yanked on “the anchors” because you thought you saw a deer. Just because you have never fallen off before and have the RoSPA Gold award does not mean the dealer must be blame. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Don’t let your ego or guilt get in the way of the obvious. In answer to your question, your wife can bring a claim against you (and your insurer will pay out) for her injuries as she has done nothing wrong. I wish her a speedy recovery.