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Classic motorcycle insurance

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What is classic motorcycle insurance?

Classic motorcycle insurance is the cover you need to protect your vintage vehicle and keep it in the best condition possible, whether it’s for display purposes or you still like to ride it whenever you can.

Being a classic bike owner can be a labour of love. Tracking down that very specific part or paint colour might be difficult but insuring your beloved bike doesn’t have to be. 

At Compare the Market, we can help you compare classic bike insurance quotes for bikes manufactured from 1970 onwards.

Do you need insurance for a classic motorcycle?

Yes, if you ride or even park your classic motorbike on the road, you’re legally required to have at least third-party insurance cover.

Even if you don’t ride your classic motorcycle on public roads, it’s still a good idea to consider insuring your bike against damage and theft. Particularly if you’ve invested a lot of time and money into it.

 

What is a classic motorcycle?

A classic motorcycle is a motorbike that’s reached a certain age. For insurance, it doesn’t have anything to do with the make or model. Different insurance providers might have different ideas on what’s classified as ‘classic’, so you should compare them to find the right fit for your bike.

When does a motorcycle become a classic in the UK?

There isn’t a set definition of how old a motorcycle has to be before it becomes classic. Different insurance providers will have their own definitions. However, you can expect your motorbike to be classed as classic when it reaches 20 to 30 years old.

Is classic motorcycle insurance different to standard motorcycle cover?

Yes, both standard and classic motorbike insurance are treated differently because the bikes themselves are usually treated differently. A classic bike is normally your pride and joy, so you probably don’t nip down the shops for a pint of milk on it. Instead, you save it for special trips and tend to it lovingly. Because of the lower mileage and special care taken, this can lower the risk of having an accident, making it possible to find cheap classic motorcycle insurance.

What does classic motorcycle insurance cover?

Classic bike insurance typically provides protection for motorcycles that are more than 20 years old, but this can vary. 

Older bikes can also be known as ‘modern classic’, ‘vintage’ and ‘antique’ – and everyone seems to have a different idea of what that means. When comparing vintage motorcycle insurance policies, it’s worth checking how your provider defines this.

As with standard bike insurance, there are three levels of cover: 

  • Third-party. This is the legal minimum level of insurance. It offers cover for any damage you do to someone else, their vehicle or their property. You won’t be covered for the cost of any damage to your own motorbike. 
  • Third-party, fire and theft. This includes everything in third-party insurance, but can also offer cover if your classic bike is stolen or damaged by fire. 
  • Fully comprehensive. This is the highest level of insurance available. Cover includes third-party, fire and theft, plus any damage done to your classic motorcycle. 

What extras can I add to my classic bike insurance?

Classic motorcycle insurance varies from provider to provider, but you’ll usually be able to add these optional extras to your policy: 

  • Helmet and leathers cover – this could offer cover if accessories like helmets, leathers, gloves and boots are damaged, lost or stolen. 
  • Events cover – this is a special level of cover if you take your classic motorbike to rallies, events and trade shows. 
  • International cover for travelling abroad with your motorbike - make sure you get the right insurance that will cover you in the country you’re travelling to, and be aware of any limits or restrictions, too.
  • Pillion cover – protects you against any injuries to your passengers. If you regularly have passengers riding with you, you should definitely add this on as most standard policies don’t include it.
  • Modifications cover – if you make any changes to your bike, you might need an extra policy to cover you.
  • Breakdown cover – can get you back up and running by the roadside or get you back home, if you’re unlucky enough to have an issue with your bike. 
  • Personal accident cover – protects you for medical expenses and compensation for injuries like loss of limbs, permanent disability and even death. 
  • Motor legal protection – covers you against any of the legal expenses that can rack up when you need to make a claim after an accident. Whether you make the claim or one is made against you, this could protect you.

How can I get cheap classic motorcycle insurance?

As well as setting an agreed value and limited mileage on your classic bike, you may be able to lower the cost of your insurance policy by improving its security.  

Consider: 

  • Adding an immobiliser. 
  • Making sure you have an alarm. 
  • Integrating motorbike tracking tech. 
  • Keeping your classic bike in a locked garage. 

Some insurance providers also offer a discount if you’re a member of a classic motorcycle club, so remember to let your provider know. 

How much does classic motorcycle insurance cost?

Whatever make or model you have, looking after your classic bike isn’t cheap. But this care and attention stands you in good stead when it comes to insurance. Classic bike insurance could be less expensive than normal bike cover because: 

  • Riders are considered more careful drivers – classic bikers tend to be more experienced and take greater care with their machines.
  • Classic bikes are less likely to be stolen – they’re much easier to trace than normal bikes, so much harder to sell on.

If you’re lucky enough to own more than one classic motorcycle, you could compare multi-bike quotes to see if you could save money. Classic motorcycle insurance on multi-bike policies will cover you for the same things, but you might get a discount for insuring them with the same provider.

What do I need to get a quote for classic motorcycle insurance?

Before starting your classic bike insurance quote, make sure you have details of:

  1. The make and model of your motorbike – plus the registration number.
  2. The year it was manufactured.
  3. Any modifications after manufacture.
  4. The value of your motorcycle and the date you bought it, if applicable.
  5. How long you’ve had your motorbike licence.
  6. Any claims or convictions. 
  7. Any additional riders, including any claims and convictions they may have had.
  8. Any special security devices you carry or have had fitted to your motorbike.
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Author image Julie Daniels

What our expert says...

“The value of classic bikes varies hugely, so setting an agreed value for your bike at the start of an insurance policy will ensure you’ve covered it for everything it’s worth. But you’ll have to talk to the insurance provider directly about this possibility.” 

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance expert

Frequently asked questions

What affects the cost of classic motorcycle insurance?

Insurance providers usually offer lower premiums for vintage vehicles because they’re likely to be better looked after and driven less. The the cost can also be affected by: 

  • Rider’s age – younger and less experienced riders typically pay a higher premium.
  • Where you live – if you live in an area with a high crime rate, you’re more likely to claim for theft or vandalism.
  • Make and model of bike – the most powerful bikes are more expensive and more likely to be involved in an accident, so your insurance tends to be higher.
  • Value of the bike – spare parts for classic bikes might be in short supply and expensive to obtain.
  • Modifications – modified bikes may go faster or be more attractive to thieves, resulting in you being considered more of a risk.

What does agreed value mean?

When you take out classic bike insurance in the UK, you’ll be given the option of setting an agreed value. This guarantees a pre-agreed amount you’ll be paid for your motorbike in the event of a total loss claim – in other words, if it’s written off or stolen and not recovered.

Insuring your motorbike on an agreed-value basis means that your insurance provider will take into account all the hard work and love that’s gone into your classic bike, rather than just considering its trade price.  

Setting an agreed value and mileage can also help bring down the cost of your premium.

What else do I need to know about riding and insuring a classic bike?

If your classic motorbike was first registered more than 40 years ago and there have been no ‘substantial changes’ made to the main components, you could benefit in two ways: 

  • You can apply to stop paying vehicle tax. This is also called putting your vehicle into the historic tax class.
  • Your bike won’t need an MOT. However, it still needs to be kept in a roadworthy condition, otherwise you might be fined up to £2,500 and receive three penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition. 

Can I insure a sidecar for my classic bike?

You should check your policy, but most insurance providers will also cover your bike’s sidecar. You’ll need to provide the make, model and value of the sidecar to make sure you’re properly covered should you need to make a claim.  

Just bear in mind that some insurance providers consider a sidecar an accessory, while others will include it as part of the total value of your bike, so this may have a bearing on the cost of your premium.  

Can I get classic bike insurance for a moped or scooter?

If you’re the proud owner of a vintage Vespa or Lambretta, then yes, you can get classic scooter insurance if it’s more than 20 years old. You can even get classic Lambretta insurance from some providers.

Just like standard moped and scooter insurance, you’ll also need to let your classic moped insurance provider know when you passed your compulsory basic training (CBT) and what type of licence you hold.

What is a laid-up storage policy?

A laid-up storage policy insures your bike while you’re not using it and it's stored securely off road. It will only cover the bike for incidents while it’s in storage. For example, fire and theft.

Many bikers have times of the year when their bike isn’t being used, such as in winter when conditions can be too bleak to ride. A laid-up storage policy could reduce your insurance costs as you’re only paying for the level of cover you need while your bike is in storage.

When do I need a SORN for my classic bike?

If you’re storing your classic bike away for a period of time, and you don’t want to tax or insure it for road use, you’ll need to make a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).  

During the time your classic bike is SORN, you must not use it or park it on a public road.  

Do I need to tax a classic bike?

If your bike is more than 40 years old, then you no longer have to pay tax on it. That means that from 1 April 2022, any motorbike first registered before 1 January 1982 is exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). However, you’ll still need to tax your bike, even if you don’t need to pay anything.  

Find out how to apply for historic vehicle tax exemption at the DVLA website.  

Do I need to get an MOT for my classic motorcycle?

Once your classic motorbike celebrates its 40th birthday, it’ll be eligible for MOT exemption. If your classic bike is less than 40 years old, it’ll need an MOT each year like any other bike. 
 
However, just because bikes older than 40 can be exempt from getting their MOT certificate each year, you still need to keep it in a roadworthy state.