You report your bike stolen and the very first thing the insurers will do is see if they can avoid a payment, and their default position is that you have, at least, technically breached your contract. My view may well be jaundiced but the same insurer avoidance techniques keep surfacing, regardless of who the insurer is.

The first is whether security was used. If you promised your insurer you always lock your bike and you don’t and it gets nicked there will be no pay-out. This is morally justifiable. Insurers will also make enquiries of CCTV holders in the area where your motorcycle was stolen to see whether or not your bike was actually locked with a shackle lock.

Also, if you are about to go on a ride but have to nip into the house for warmer gloves leaving your bike on the drive unsecured and unattended and it gets nicked, you will not be payed out if you have a garaging clause.

These exclusions are hard and enforced. But there is a second string to Insurers’ wriggling. Which is the ‘weird questions’ you will be asked. For example: ‘what was the last journey you made on your motorcycle?’ I know of at least one individual who said he had gone to, ‘pick up a curry’ and was then questioned as to whether or not he was using his motorcycle for fast food delivery. It was a BMW S1000RR, which don’t tend to get used by Deliveroo operatives – other food delivery operators are available. I have had other riders come to me when their insurer has decided their garage is not a garage. I know of one example where a motorcycle was locked in a underground concrete bunker. Apparently, according to at least one leading motorcycle Insurer, a concrete bunker for the storing of motorcycles is not in fact a garage, because they decided that a garage needed to be for the exclusive use of the insured, despite the fact that this played no part in their contract.

Other little get-outs include not using your steering lock. You had your bike shackled down, chained to a lamppost, but you did not put your steering lock on, because a steering lock can be broken by a relatively strong man without tools. ‘Oh no,’ say the Insurers. Notwithstanding the fact that you had a Thatcham alarm and a 16 millimetre chain shackling your bike to a lamppost, the fact that you did not have your ignition lock on makes the bike ‘much more attractive to thieves’ because a motorcycle with a broken steering lock is unsaleable.

The moral of these tales is this: do not trust your insurer. If your motorcycle is stolen, think very carefully before you answer a single one of their questions, and keep a written trail.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine – November 2019