Your contract of insurance, the clue is in the name, is contractual in nature. That is the basis upon which it exists, and that contract will tell you what you and your insurer must both do. However, Parliament has had something to say about such contracts and a decade ago The Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act was given Royal Assent and became law.

This is an important piece of legislation as it sets out your obligations and those of your insurer.

For example, it did away with your duty to disclose material facts to the insurer. This was ground-breaking at the time as you no longer need to tell the insurer about anything which may impact the insurance contract, rather the duty is on the insurer to ask you questions!

It does mean you need to answer those questions honestly and with reasonable care.

One of the most common issues I see is with insurance and bike theft. Imagine you live in a flat, you tell the insurer your bike is kept in a locked, brick garage with a concrete base, four walls, a roof and lockable point of entry. So far, so good you think. However, read the small print. I bet it reads along the lines of ‘for which only you, and those with your permission, have access to’. Oh dear. This would mean, the garage underneath your block of flats would not be classed as a garage by the insurer. Even though it clearly is a garage.

This opened up an entirely new can of worms and dependent on whether the answer you gave was deliberate/reckless or carless then dictated whether the insurer had the power to avoid the policy as a whole (and keep the premium) or reduce the value of the pay-out, on the basis they would have still underwritten the risk but on different terms or for a different premium.

I won’t go into the intricacies of misrepresentations within this article as it will bore a glass eye to sleep but, rather, I will deal with the day-to-day questions us bikers have of our insurance.

I have changed the pads on my bike to non-OEM parts. Does this matter?

Generally not. If the bike is running a factory braking system and all you have done is change the pads, for example, at a routine service then this will likely fall under the requirement to keep your vehicle in a safe and serviceable condition. There is no need to tell the insurer you are using EBC pads or Brembo pads. It is expected your machine will be using brake pads.

If I declare something like a top-box and then I remove it temporarily, do I need to declare that?

No. If the item was declared at the outset of the policy the fact it is removed, temporarily, for a period of time will not trigger a further disclosure to the insurer. A top box by its very design can be removed and fitted at your convenience.

I have got my renewal information pack and it is missing some information, shall I tell the insurer or leave it? I have been with the same insurer for five years.

Tell them. A renewal is treated like a new contract, so it is important that if you spot an error i.e. it is missing your Bike Safe course or the estimated mileage is incorrect, it is no good trying to fall back on previous years. The renewal contains a declaration that you have checked the information and it is correct. Don’t give the insurer an easy way out of paying a claim. Tell them and get it amended.

My policy contains a clause not to ride on the Nurburgring Nordschleife. I have read insurers cannot include these types of terms in a policy? I am minded to just ride it despite this warning.

They can and they do! Don’t forget, whilst Parliament has laid down law in relation to insurance it does not involve itself in the intracies of the policy. Therefore, if your insurer is not willing to underwrite the risk, they do not have to. If you act outside of the terms of the policy and ride the ‘Ring you do place your insurer on risk. If you do then have an accident on the ‘Ring, your insurer will have to pay out on any claims, but it also means the insurer has a contractual basis upon which to claim back from you those costs which it paid out. This can be an expensive lesson, so pay close attention to what is and what isn’t covered.

My bike was stolen, and the insurer is refusing to pay out on the basis the motorcycle was not chained up. Is this fair? I had the steering lock on but no chain.

It seems unfair. Unless your policy specifically stated that you would have the biked chained up, then it is sufficient for the steering lock to be on. I have dealt with a number of insurers who ‘try’ and defeat a claim by running this argument, it is nonsense. The last one folded after receiving a single letter from a Solicitor hinting at legal proceedings.

Gavin Grewal

TVAM Slipstream