Using a mate’s bike

Using a mate’s bike

It might seem like a harmless action, but lending your bike to a mate without correctly insuring it could land you in hot water…

I let my mate borrow my battered and cheap spare trail bike. It was my first trail bike, and I kept it as it’s worth half of bugger all. It’s insured third party at £49.00 a year. My mate wanted to try riding off-road. He has his own road bike, which is insured.

Whilst out trail riding, we got pulled by a copper on a quad, who was perfectly civil. He asked us about insurance and an MOT. We were both given producers, something I thought had gone out of fashion with the ark, but in line with our producers, we both produced’ at a station, together to a desk clerk who was an officious mare.

She actually read my mate’s certificate of insurance and it says on there, actually on the certificate of insurance, “this policy does not insure the policy holder to ride any motorcycle other than his own, nor use any other motor vehicle other than his own” – we hadn’t given it a moment’s thought. So, both of us have been summoned. Me for allowing my bike to be used uninsured, and my mate for riding uninsured. He is on six points, I am on three. This was an honest error. We weren’t doing anything wrong, but my mate is worried sick he will lose his licence and I am not especially relaxed about it either. What should we expect?


Unfortunately, the Magistrates have absolutely no option for your mate. Legally speaking, he is buggered and he will get six points for no insurance. There are no particular aggravating factors, but nor is there any defence. He will be on a tot up ban of 12 points. At this point you might expect me to advise you to get a lawyer, but I really cannot see that a lawyer is going to make any difference.

You have committed the offence of allowing the use of the motorcycle on a road whilst it is uninsured. Your state of knowledge is no defence in court. There is some old law which says that if you made proper enquires and were reassured that the policy covered the third party use, then you might have the beginnings of a defence, but it is self-evident that you did not check the policy, you did not rely on any representation from your mate, you simply made the assumption, which is all too commonly made, that a policy for one bike covers you third party on lots of other bikes.

This was almost always the position 15 or so years ago, but since the rise of ‘comparison websites’ in order to bring prices down, the insurers offer progressively less and less cover, and before you ever borrow a bike, or more importantly ever lend a bike, you need to check that the other rider is insured under his own policy.

You might not think it, with nine points on your licence, but you have actually got away quite lightly. If your mate on his trail bike had seriously injured somebody else, your insurers would have to meet any damages from that injured person, and they would certainly be coming after you for it, because you allowed the bike to be used on your insurance but outside of your contract of insurance.

Long gone are the days where you could lend a bike to a mate on the simple rule of ‘you bend it, you mend it’. I will lend people my bike, but only once I have got their policy of insurance in my hand, I have checked it, and I have taken a copy of it. I know, I am a cautious lawyer, but I have seen people lending bikes, or more particularly, selling bikes and not cancelling the insurance, getting themselves into the most horrendous difficulties.

Andrew Dalton

Adventure Bike Rider Mar/Apr 2018

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: January 21, 2019 at 3:55 pm

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.
Disclaimer: The legal advice and statements contained within this/these articles is correct at the time of printing. If you are seeking legal advice after a motorbike accident please contact us to speak directly with one of our lawyers.


  1. John SampsonJanuary 25, 2019

    Slightly confused, the guys were trial riding and the PC was on a quad this suggests the riding was being committed off road, not on the highway therefore the PC would surely have had no jurisdiction. Can someone confirm or deny my theory please.

  2. john faulknerJanuary 26, 2019

    That’s great advice Andrew, too easy to think you have something on your policy because of the past. The policies are usually 10 pages these days so lots to read and also the conditions booklet.

  3. Andrew DaltonApril 19, 2019

    A byway is a public highway and any bike on a trail on publicly accessible land needs to be taxed, with a valid MoT and insured.

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Andrew Dalton has written articles in Adventure Bike Rider for a few years now. Founder and Publisher of Adventure Bike Rider, Alun Davies, explains how the magazine came about.

"Adventure Bike Rider came into existence for three reasons; first there was my lifelong passion for travel and motorcycles; secondly there was a huge hole in the UK motorcycle media for a magazine that focused on the booming adventure bike sector and thirdly I had a motorcycle accident that curtailed one of my other passions in life - climbing mountains."

"The plus side of wiping out on a rocky trail in Spain is all the free time that comes with having a bust up arm, foot and leg. And what better use of that recovery time than to set up and launch ABR magazine."

"That was back in 2009 and since then ABR has grown to become the largest adventure bike community in the world. During an average week our social media reach nudges 1 million, on a good week that doubles to 2 million. This website has a thriving community of adventure riders and hosts the busiest adventure forum in the UK with hundreds of thousands of readers and visitors from around the world."

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