My bike has sustained around £5-6k of damage – depending on what, if any, scuffs I can live with. Anyway, after I saw the bike in the workshop, I am happy that what I thought was a mechanical failure was actually rider error on my part. I can live with that.

However, because I told my insurers that there may have been a mechanical fault, they keep referring me to a clause in my insurance which excludes mechanical fault – and now they have gone silent.

I reported the claim in the early autumn of 2021: the last thing I heard from my insurers was when I emailed them and told them there was no mechanical fault, and their response was; “As you have previously advised us your collision was caused by a mechanical fault, we are unable to assist you further. Further, we remind you that in order to benefit from the insurance, the motorcycle must be roadworthy and your motorcycle clearly was not roadworthy when it developed its mechanical fault. Sadly, we have to reject your claim in this regard and you will need to fund your own repairs.”

What I actually said was; “I think there may have been a mechanical fault and I will be checking the bike to confirm.” I have confirmed and the bike fired up, went through the gears and is in fact rideable; its damage is largely cosmetic. The engine-management warning lights are having a fit but the bike is mechanically sound.

Have I dropped a major clanger?


The only clanger you have dropped is by using one of the worst motorcycle insurers in the country. This is their standard modus operandi. You have given them an imaginary thread to pull at and they will pull at it.

I have read your contract of insurance. You are covered for this risk. Your bike is fully comprehensively insured. There is a specific clause which excludes liability for “damage arising from a mechanical condition or fault in the insured motorcycle” and there is a general roadworthiness clause. However, in order to rely on the roadworthiness clause, the insurers will have to show your nearly-new bike had a fault sufficient to breach the provisions of either the Road Traffic Acts or the Construction and Use Regulations, which they cannot.

However, none of this matters at all because you crashed and damaged your bike either as a result of some surface contaminant on the road (which you don’t really think) or you overcooked a bend on a road you do not know well and which looks, from the photos, to be fairly polished. In other words, you crashed. There is no mechanical fault for the insurers to rely upon and they carry the burden of proof of showing this, which they cannot.

I have gone a bit Latin with my modus operandi but here goes with some more Latin; the rule of contra preferentum, which applies in your case. A contract of insurance is a standard contract. As such, where there is ambiguity, it is construed against the company which drafted its own contract. You wrote it, you own it is a more vernacular way of putting it. But there is no ambiguity.

This is as straightforward an attempt to wriggle out of paying as I have ever seen. Bearing in mind the value of the repairs which are around a third of the value of the bike, this is a ‘small claim’.

So if you instruct someone like me, I will not be paid by the insurer and it would cost you the value of the repairs to have me represent you. However, this is such a transparent con trick. Just go to small claims. My experience of this insurer – and I have plenty – is that once you trigger court proceedings, they fold.

As a word of warning though; I would not speculate as to mechanical faults unless you have something pretty solid to go on. Pretty well all of these I have done have had a locked-solid rear wheel as a result of something disastrous happening, with bits of engine, gearbox or drivetrain being obviously and catastrophically broken.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine – April 2022