The most money a broker makes on an insurance claim is hiring you the replacement bike. Before you take up the offer of a ‘free’ bike know these things…

The bike is not free. You are entering into a binding contract to pay usually between £100 and £120 per day for the use of a serviceable but unexciting motorcycle. The ‘delivery note’ usually has printed on the back of it a binding Consumer Credit Act contract which renders you personally liable to pay for every penny of that hire so tread carefully.

Secondly, you are likely to need to go to court to justify the need for what can be an expensive hire, and thirdly, without you being liable in law for the bike hire the contract is unenforceable against anyone, so all the assurances you get from your broker aren’t worth a thing.

Your finances will become a matter of disclosure, usually the insurer for the other vehicle will demand, and the court will order production of a year’s worth of your bank statements and you will be required to explain your need for a hire vehicle.

If you can jump through all of these hoops your insurance brokers will have a very nice pay day, along with the bike hire company, who your insurance brokers probably own.

There is a terribly perverse issue here ie your insurers are supposed to be sorting out your bike while you are ‘on hire’ with a bike they are taking hundreds of pounds of weekly profit from. In the meantime the bike you chose to ride languishes unrepaired, clocking up hire charges, with ali kinds of difficulties (real or imagined).

The wisdom of the ancients is cui bono? Who benefits? It is not you. You may think you have a free bike, and it looks very attractive on the first phone call. I have seen these cases unravel and desperate men come to me being threatened by their own insurance brokers with bankruptcy over hire bills: the worst hire bill I have seen is £56,000, where the damaged bike was worth less than a grand. So, unsurprisingly, when a bike worth a few thousand pounds appears to attract storage and hire charges multiple times the original bike’s value the insurers for the other driver may have a questions to ask.

This is likely to end up with you giving sworn evidence that you were fully aware you were liable for the charges. As someone who has been offered this deal I know I was told ‘don’t worry mate, you’ll never have to pay’ so these parasites will cheerfully force you to perjure yourself and if you break under cross examination the Judge may decide prison is appropriate. This is high stakes business and the only person who can lose is the honest punter with his, ahem, free bike.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine December 2018