Pillion cover for motorbike passengers

Riding with a passenger on your motorbike or moped is called ‘riding pillion’. It can be an exhilarating experience to share with a friend or loved one, but it’s important to follow the laws carefully and make sure you have pillion cover in place. Read our guide to pillion cover.

Riding with a passenger on your motorbike or moped is called ‘riding pillion’. It can be an exhilarating experience to share with a friend or loved one, but it’s important to follow the laws carefully and make sure you have pillion cover in place. Read our guide to pillion cover.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
3
minute read
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Posted 17 MAY 2021

What is pillion cover?

Pillion cover is a part of motorbike insurance that covers you if you carry passengers on the back of your motorbike or moped. It insures your passenger for personal injury in case of an accident during the ride. 

Whether it’s a regular outing or a one-off, if you want to carry a passenger, you’ll need to make sure that pillion cover is included on your motorbike or moped insurance policy. Your motorbike insurance will be invalidated if you carry a passenger on the back of your bike without it, and you could also be held personally liable if your passenger is injured.

Why is pillion cover important?

When you’re riding pillion, you have the added responsibility of your passengers’ safety. If you drive a car with passengers inside you may notice the weight difference (and extra distraction, depending on the passengers), but riding with a passenger on a motorbike will make the handling more obviously difficult. There is a greater risk of injury to yourself and to your pillion passenger, so it’s vital you have the right cover in place.

When riding pillion you will notice:

  • difficulty manoeuvring and taking corners because of the added weight and changes to the centre of gravity of the bike
  • difficulty braking, especially when riding downhill – be prepared for longer stopping distances 
  • ‘helmet bumps’, when your passenger is unable to anticipate sudden stops or and they end up colliding with you during a gear change

Your passenger is putting a lot of trust in you when riding pillion, so as well as making sure you have the right cover in place, you should drive extra carefully to ensure they feel comfortable and safe. Before you set off, it’s a good idea to run through what to expect from the ride and make sure they feel confident to speak up if they have any concerns – especially if it’s their first time riding pillion.

What does the law say about riding pillion?

Pillion cover is only available to riders with a full motorbike or moped driving licence for the class of bike they own. It’s illegal to carry passengers on a provisional licence. 

You must follow these rules when riding pillion:

  • you can only take one passenger at a time
  • your bike must have a designated pillion seat that is designed to carry passengers and rear footrests
  • there are no age restrictions for passengers, but they must be able to sit securely on the seat and reach the footrests
  • passengers must always sit forward
  • both the driver and pillion passenger must wear helmets that comply with UK safety standards (unless either of you are exempt, which is only the case for those of Sikh faith who wear a turban)

It’s also important to note that if you decide to carry a passenger on your motorbike, you are legally responsible for their safety and their behaviour – so if your passenger misbehaves and causes an accident, you could be held personally responsible. Make sure they have the right safety equipment and clothing, and that they know how they should sit to be safe and comfortable. Agree on a simple way to communicate if they want to stop, such as a double tap on the right shoulder.  

How does pillion cover work?

Unlike car passengers, motorbike passengers are not classed as third parties when it comes to insurance claims. With pillion cover, your passenger can claim for personal injury and damage up to the same limits as you, the main policyholder. They’re not insured in relation to the bike though, so they can’t claim for any damage it sustains. 

If you had an accident when riding pillion and you didn’t have pillion cover in place, your insurance provider may choose to recognise the passenger as a third party and allow them to claim, but the costs would be charged to you for breaching your policy.

Is pillion cover included in my motorbike insurance?

Policies vary, so it’s important to check the details carefully to see if you’re covered. Motorbike insurance policies may include it as standard or you may be able to add it on as an extra for a fee. 

If you’re looking for new insurance for your motorbike or moped insurance with pillion cover, we can help. 

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