I took my bike in for a clean at a former service station which was now being run as a hand wash by a group of gentlemen of South Eastern European extraction.

I’d used these guys before; they were cheerful and friendly and did a damned fine job of cleaning my bike. I left them with my bike to clean and sat in a tea shed and awaited my pristine bike.

Then one of the guys approached me very sheepishly and explained in broken English that my bike had fallen off the side stand and it had sustained a bizarre amount of damage. There was a lot of babbling and people speaking foreign tongues down mobile phones and eventually my dealer took my unrideable bike away.

I asked the car cleaners for their insurance details (cue a lot of shuffling about) and I was given the mobile number of the head honcho who told me he had no insurance for damage to vehicles, so I went to my own insurers who organised an inspection, told me the bike (which was old but pristine) was written off but as I had ‘lent’ the bike with permission to an uninsured 3rd party who had damaged the bike they were not going to pay.

So I’ve gone from going to get my bike cleaned to having no bike and no money to replace it. I don’t hold out any hope of getting money off the Albanian guy who runs the yard, but I’d have thought this was accidental damage and covered by my insurance.



Sorry, the news is not good. The car cleaning company is a limited company so the owner is not personally liable.

The company is uninsured and worthless so whilst you might take them to the small claims court you would not have much luck enforcing the judgment – I suppose if you had a really tough Court bailiff they could march onto the site and grab all the cash or seize all the cleaning gear, but it would take a lot of jet washes and buckets to replace your bike. I would not hold out much hope of that happening, I’m afraid.

Your insurers are correct. Under your policy damage caused by you is recoverable, but damage caused in a road traffic accident by another party acting upon your instruction happens to be excluded.

This is a standard term and avoids your own insurers picking up the bill if your bike is damaged by your franchised dealer, but it does not help much with an uninsured business. The exclusion clause is a regular and common clause and sadly I cannot see the Ombudsman holding it to be unfair.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes Magazine

November 2014