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By Andy Gillard from ScooterNova magazine
Like most things in life we don’t think we need, scooter insurance is something we all begrudge paying for. However, it is a legal requirement so the best thing to do is face up to the facts, do your research and make sure that you get the best deal possible for your money.
This may not be the quickest approach to buying scooter insurance, but it will hopefully be the most economical. So here are a few tips and suggestions to make sure you don't over pay for the cover you need. Depending on your circumstances (age, address, type of vehicle, experience etc) some will offer better results than others, but tick as many off the list as possible and hopefully you’ll get a good deal.
Any kind of insurance is based on risk. In the world of motorbikes and scooters, younger and/ or inexperienced riders are deemed more likely to have an accident so the first thing to consider is altering these odds in your favour. Firstly, passing your bike test and obtaining a full licence will not only reduce your insurance premium but the training you receive along the way should improve your riding skills too.
Speaking of which, while you can’t do anything about any lack of experience or years of riding, what you can do is consider taking an approved advanced rider training course. Not only is there the opportunity to learn new skills, but a number of insurance companies may offer a discount if you gain a qualification.
Back to the risk theory, and the more powerful the scooter then in most insurance company’s eyes there is a greater likelihood of an accident. Not only will this cause your premium to be more expensive, but generally if the scooter costs more in the first place then it stands to reason that it will cost more to replace or repair, so you need to consider that too.
Take a reality check and unless you’ve recently won the National Lottery, novice riders are probably better off beginning with a cheaper, lower capacity machine before progressing as and when they need to. Different insurance companies will have certain ages when premiums becomes cheaper so ask their advice if you are thinking of trading up.
Remember that every time you add something to your scooter, you are increasing its value and potentially increasing its desirability to a thief. Insurance companies will also see certain engine modifications and upgrades as a higher risk too, because you are basically increasing the scooter’s performance. Remember also that all such modifications should be declared to your insurance company, who may ask for an engineer’s report to prove the mods have been done correctly. They may also refuse to insure you altogether.
Think you can save a few quid by not telling them? Whether it’s a windscreen and luggage, or a cylinder kit and exhaust, if your scooter is damaged or stolen and you've not told your insurance company about any extras, then they are unlikely to pay for those accessories. This can also include a custom paintjob or replacement parts you may have had chrome plated.
Finally, if the insurance company consider any aftermarket parts may have been responsible for your claim, and you’ve not declared them in advance, they may consider voiding your insurance and then you risk not receiving any payment at all. As well as being punished for riding without valid insurance.
Back to basics for a minute and the odds of you having an accident are obviously reduced the fewer miles you cover. That’s why insurance companies will ask if its use includes commuting at all. If you only use it during the summer months then ask about premium discounts for restricted mileage. Some companies even offer special winter insurance for when your scooter might be laid up for a few months and not ridden at all.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats today, especially in certain cities, is theft. There are certain lowlifes out there who consider themselves better than the rest and that they deserve not to work for a living but instead should be allowed to help themselves to everyone else’s possessions that they have worked hard to earn. Yes, your insurance company will hopefully pay out if your scooter is stolen, but once you've taken into account the vehicle's depreciation, the excess you have to pay towards the claim, your increased premium for your replacement scooter, then unfortunately it is you that is out of pocket due to the thieving pondlife’s behaviour.
Therefore, as a law-abiding citizen, you are forced to invest money in making your scooter as difficult as possible to steal, something that can often help reduce your premium in both the short and long term. This can be done both cosmetically and physically. For example, a Ferrari red sporty looking scooter, complete with prancing horse decals, race exhaust and an abundance of shiny chrome left parked in a London street with no more than a flimsy steering lock applied, will likely attract thieves far more than any anonymous scooter under a grey cover with a heavy chain securing it to a nearby lamppost.
Firstly, if you have an alarmed garage or insurance approved structure to hide your scooter away in overnight, then do so. Next add an approved ground or wall anchor and use approved locks to secure your scooter. Even if you’ve no garage or brick built outhouse, wooden shed, or back garden/yard, using such security items when parked on a street, complete with a cover, can often go towards reducing your premium.
You do need to use the strongest chains and locks you can afford though. When buying one, look for 'security tested' approval mark such as Sold Secure or Thatcham Approved. If on the street do use solid items like lamp posts because thieves have been known to lift bikes over small bollards they've been chained to, and young trees are easily snapped or sawn.
If possible fit an alarm to your scooter and an approved vehicle tracker, and also tag your scooter so if it is stolen then there is a chance the parts can be identified, a thief prosecuted and your property returned. All of these security measures could reduce your premium, so it's worth asking your insurance company what they recognise.
The options of cover available vary and as you’d expect, the cost is different too. Starting at the cheapest, Third Party Only, simply covers you for any third party that may need to make a claim as a result of your actions. For example, if you lose control of your scooter and crash into a parked car, then the car owner can claim from your policy. You cannot. Third Party, Fire and Theft covers the above and also if your scooter catches fire or if it was stolen. Again, like TPO, TPF&T does not cover you if you simply lose control of your scooter, crash into a tree and smash your scooter into a million pieces.
Fully Comprehensive (FC) Insurance will cover the above, and also if you were to crash into a tree and damage your own scooter. If you buy your scooter on finance, then you will likely have to have FC insurance so that if anything happens then the finance company can claim it back. After all, until you’ve paid your final instalment then technically it still belongs too them so they will want their assets covered.
You can often reduce the cost of your premium by volunteering to pay an ‘excess’ in the event of a claim. This means that you offer to pay the agreed amount of any claim, should it arise, before the insurance company does. For example, if your excess is £250 and you want to claim for a broken windscreen, mirrors and handlebars valued at £400 as part of a FC policy, then the insurance company would only give you £150.
You also need to remember as well as that any insurance company will consider a used scooter valued less than a new one.
The Small print
All companies use small print for their terms and conditions and you really do need to read them to make sure you are covered, as boring as this may be. For example, will it still be covered if the MOT has expired? And if you have stated your scooter is garaged at night, it could mean that if it is parked on your driveway after 10pm that it is not covered in the event of a theft.
Complacency is one of the biggest mistakes most riders make when buying insurance. Instead of shopping around for a deal many automatically renew with the same company every year. Unfortunately, as the customer you must do the legwork and find the best deal out there. A rival might have an introductory offer that is too good to miss, or a better deal could be had elsewhere by joining a recognised owners' club. Maybe the manufacturer of your chosen scooter (KYMCO!) has a preferred partner who operates a brand insurance scheme for them that could well be your best bet for the model range.
It is always worth getting at least three or four quotes every year when your renewal is due, check out the small print to confirm the deal is the same, and don't be afraid to return to your original insurer and ask them to match any deal you found elsewhere.