Classic bike insurance

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What is classic motorcycle insurance?

Classic bike insurance is the cover you need to protect your vintage vehicle and keep it in the best condition possible, whether you’re keeping it for display purposes or 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.

Is classic motorcycle insurance different to standard motorcycle cover?

Yes, classic and standard motorbike insurance is 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, which can lead to a cheaper insurance price.

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.

At Compare the Market, we only compare cover for bikes built during and after 1970.

What does classic bike 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 classic motorcycle insurance policies, it pays to check how your provider defines this.

As with standard auto 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 such as helmets, leathers, gloves and boots are damaged, lost or stolen.
  • Pillion cover. You should add this if you want to carry passengers on your classic bike.
  • Modifications cover. If you make any changes to your bike, you might need an extra policy to cover you.
  • Events cover. This is a special level of cover if you take your classic motorbike to rallies, events and trade shows.
  • 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.
  • International cover for taking your bike abroad. 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.
  • Personal accident cover protects you for medical expenses and compensation for injuries like loss of limbs, permanent disability and even death.
  • Pillion cover protects you against any injuries to your passengers while driving. If you regularly have passengers riding with you, you should definitely consider this. Unfortunately, most standard policies don’t include it.
  • 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 will protect you.

How much does classic bike 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 can 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.

How can I get cheaper classic bike insurance?

As well as setting an agreed value and limited mileage on your classic bike, you might 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.

What do I need to get a quote?

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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Frequently asked questions

What affects the cost of classic bike cover?

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

  • Rider’s age – young and inexperienced riders typically pay a higher premium. And some providers won’t insure classic bikes unless the policyholder is over the age of 25.
  • Where you live – you’ll usually pay more for insurance if you live in an area with a high crime rate, as you’re more likely to claim for theft or vandalism.
  • Make and model of bike – the most powerful machines have a greater risk of being 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. This can push up repair costs, also raising your premium.
  • Modifications – making alterations to your classic bike could make your premium more expensive. Modified bikes may go faster or be more attractive to thieves, resulting in you being considered more of a risk.

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 can 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.

What is a laid-up storage policy?

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

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.

Dan Hutson

From the Motor team

“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.”