If you are, or soon will be, buying a new bike the odds are that sometime during the process the sales person will come to you with an accessories catalogue and your bank account will cringe.
The question is: how insured are your aftermarket goodies – official or otherwise – if your bike is nicked or you crash it? The key test is whether the parts are performance enhancing. If they are they do need to be declared, however, if they are for looks, comfort or ease of use they do not need to be declared.
The law is simple enough and following a Europe wide change of insurance law in April 2013 the rules and the law have changed in the consumers’ favour. Certainly we’ve all heard stories about claims being rejected for what looked like entirely specious reasons, and the Insurance Ombudsman upholding these rejections: I know for a fact that a theft claim was rejected by Aviva and upheld by the Ombudsman for a guy who put uprated fork springs and thicker fork oil in a street legal enduro bike.
Post 2013 if you want your farkles insured you will need to declare your accessories and invite your insurer to insure them. If not asked, they will be entering a contract to insure a factory standard bike. If they take a premium for the risk of, say, a standard KTM 1090 Adventure but you have put half the Touratech catalogue onto it, they have not insured a bike plus bling. They’ve insured the bog standard bike.
Post 2013 you cannot have your insurance ‘invalidated’ or ‘voided’ because you have put non-performance accessories on the bike. The post 2013 law is summed up thus: ‘If it is important, your insurer needs to ask you about it’. They cannot retrospectively say, as they could prior to 2013: ‘if you had told us about your side boxes/top box/sat nav/tank bag/fork oil we would have increased your premium, so sorry but no pay out’.
However, an undeclared performance enhancement is sufficient for the claim to be rejected but not out of hand. The insurer would now have to prove you were asked the question and show that you answered it incorrectly and without good reason. Your signed proposal form being blank on ‘are any performance parts fitted?’ would discharge that burden.
Critically, if you are in doubt as to whether a part is ‘performance enhancing’ say so. Then once you get your written proposal make sure you check every word of your proposal form. Recently I had a query from a medical practitioner who worked in different hospitals. He honestly ticked the box saying he would use the bike for commuting but did not read deeply enough into the contract of insurance which said ‘place’ rather than ‘places’. After some pushing and shoving his insurers did pay out but bearing in mind his £12k bike might not have been covered for theft on the strength of a single ‘s’ you really do need to be very thorough.
Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.