How do modifications affect bike insurance?
The good news is modifications needn’t necessarily affect your bike insurance, or if they do, there are things you can do to lower the costs
Bike mods are a tricky area for insurers. There are so many different ways a motorbike can be modified that simply evaluating the extra risk is not possible.
We’ll look at a few examples in a moment, but the good news is that mods needn’t mean premium doom and gloom. There are many that don’t actually lead to any meaningful increase.
You’d think that touring gear wouldn’t add to a premium. But if you’ve added £800’s worth of touring kit to your F800GS, the insurer needs to increase the level of cover on your bike.
The fact that all that extra weight will reduce you to a crawling accident-free zone won’t really come into it, more’s the pity.
Does a straight through, carbon Akrapovich racing exhaust system mean you are more likely to crash the bike? Maybe, maybe not. The insurers will have the data on that.
One thing is for certain, though, if you ring them up one day and tell them the bike has been trashed, you are going to want them to pay up not just £8000 for your basic bike but also the value of your £2000 exhaust. And all of the other bits you might have added. So you would expect to pay at least a 25% increase over the premium on a standard version of your bike.
If you’ve replaced your fairings with the latest Rossi racing replicas you shouldn’t be surprised if an insurance underwriter sees you as an extra risk, even though the assumption that you might be a bit of a road racer is grossly unfair. So as well as the value of the modified parts, expect the premium to be loaded
a bit more.
Likewise stickers. They may have no value in replacement terms, but they will often have an impact on the desirability of you as a safe bet policyholder.
Here’s a crazy one… You would expect crash bungs – those ‘mushrooms’ that can be fitted to the side of your frame to protect your fairings if you send the bike down the road – to reduce your premium not increase it. After all, you are trying to save the insurer money in the event of a crash by not having so much bike to repair.
The problem is that, in certain circumstances, crash bungs can actually make the situation worse by catching the bike – against a pavement kerb, for example – which at best could bring engine casing into contact with something hard and at worst flip the bike entirely, possibly causing twice as much damage…
Tricky. Some insurers don’t see them as a problem and some do. The usual insurance conundrum.
Do you declare your mods?
Mods can be summed up in a single word: Minefield.
We know that many bikers don’t declare mods to save money on their premiums. fine until you have to make a claim, then you’ll be up Shit St. Not only could your whole claim in invalidated, you could also find yourself refused insurance in the future, for having made a false declaration. An insurer is within its rights to refuse your claim if the situation is not what they agreed to insure.
With bike insurance you have to play a straight bat and declare your bike’s modifications. All of them. It used to be that if you didn’t declare a modification, perhaps you didn’t realise it was a mod when you bought the bike second hand, then your entire claim was at risk.
Since the Consumer Insurance Act, 2015 came into force riders have had a little more protection against unknowingly undeclared mods: “If you unknowingly give incorrect or incomplete information to your insurer, they will not be able to decline a claim on the grounds off non-disclosure unless you carelessly or deliberately lied or misrepresented your circumstances.”
The key word is ‘unknowingly’. If your bike clearly has £1,000 worth of touring kit or pipes louder than a Lancaster bomber, you’ll be hit. Remember, insurance companies have a very friendly face, but when it comes to making a claim they don’t need to be as friendly.
It simply isn’t worth not declaring your mods.
There’s some really good news though
Many mods don’t actually make much of a difference to your premium. Upgraded brakes, wheels and suspension may not affect premiums by much at all.
Bennetts, for example, will take up to 16 standard modifications, including braided lines and stickers, into account and you don’t even have to declare them. They have a useful Guide to Modifications that lists what is covered and when you undertake a quotation you can easily declare the mods that aren’t on the list.
If that fails, use excess insurance
It might just be that the mods you make to your bike can only lead to a high premium. In which case, you still have an option: an insurance excess policy.
These policies pay out when you have to cover the cost of paying excess. For around £30-35 you can get a policy that repays you £500 in the event of having to make a claim.
We have a whole article on policy excess cover here.
How to get yourself sorted:
As always, do your homework and ring round. There are more insurers than you might think that are prepared to take on a bike with mods – as you as you declare them.
More independent insurance advice
Keeping your insurance costs down
Are multi-bike insurance policies cheaper?
The excess insurance trick that saves you serious money
Be careful with your insurance auto renewal
Motorbike insurance mirroring explained
Treat saving on bike insurance like earning money