Make sure you’re covered
QWE WOULD LIKE annual holiday / travel insurance specifically for motorcyclists, or a policy that is happy to cover bikers as part of a more general travel insurance scheme, as we do several short trips a year, always to Europe and always touring on normal roads. We want “no quibble” cover and repatriation for both ourselves and our bikes should the worst happen.
However we would love to know if you have an opinion as to which one is best. We are not particularly price sensitive, we just want the very best “whistles and bells” cover with the peace of mind that it would bring.
AFIRST OF ALL you need to ascertain your needs. For example, I do not think I need recovery of a motorcycle from Europe. I would rather hire a van and pick up my own wrecked bike from France but I would take a different view of recovering it from, say, south eastern Spain. I also speak passable French so can deal with a French garage but in Portugal, I would be stuffed. Bikes are pretty frequently repatriated, more so than cars and having European cover and recovery back to the UK is a fairly easy add-on to most UK recovery policies. Bear in mind though that you will be paying for local repairs if the bike can be fixed. The local agents who speak English and the local language can really smooth out problems, so on balance it is wise to have a good-quality European recovery scheme — but do read what it offers. Cheap is usually the enemy of good here.
However, the nub of your question is medical cover and you are wise to be cautious. The first thing to do is check excluded zones. My own cover does not extend to the Americas but it’s no problem. It covers me for the EU and Morocco, the two areas I travel to the most. Do not forget your EHIC card. It is free and greatly reduces the amount you have to pay up front for emergency services. However, some EU jurisdictions treat emergency as “Is it going to kill you?” so do not rely on it in place of proper cover.
The next thing you need to look at in detail is excluded activities and the majority of off-the-peg insurance specifically excludes motorcycling. A smaller group limit you to 125cc and under (and most require that you must be wearing at least a helmet). A frequent exclusion is for a motorcycle you own - ie taking your own bike rather than a hire bike and if not 125cc, some have a 750cc upper limit on hire bikes. My own family policy did not exclude motorcycling but I looked for the conditions relating to riding and it would not cover me for either riding a hire bike bigger than 125cc or riding my own bike.
This is when you need to contact your insurers and there is a lot to be said for using Uk-based insurers rather than a comparison website. The more comprehensive the cover, the more you will pay. There are very few policies that cover motorcycling on your own bike as standard. Your question is well timed as I have just been riding dirt roads in Morocco with two of my business partners. Three lawyers all checked their separate policies and all excluded larger bikes, the limits being 600cc for one insurer and 750 the others. It was easy enough to get my insurer to upgrade the policy, on a phone call, to cover bikes including unsealed roads. The only proviso was I had to have a proper helmet and “appropriate” motorcycle safety gear. My partners had to replace theirs as the computer said; “No”.
So, to summarise, check the level of cover you get for a motorcycle, that it covers what you are going to do and what capacity is covered. I would look at Uk-based insurers because they are easier to enforce policies against and are covered if they go bust. My starting point would be a name you know and trust and phone them, clearly setting out your needs. Make sure when you get your policy documents that it reflects your risk and if it does, you’ll be fine with the reputable insurers. Make sure you answer every question truthfully when they are signing you up. If you are diabetic, or taking statins or anti-depressants, say so. They may exclude cover for diabetic incidents, cardio vascular or psychological issues but will cover everything else.
If you’re motorcycling abroad, make sure your insurance covers all your requirements before you go. Then relax and enjoy the ride...