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Motorcycle travel insurance

Before riding a motorcycle on holiday, you’ll need to get the right insurance policy in place. Here are the key points to consider if you’re planning to hire a bike or take yours abroad.

Before riding a motorcycle on holiday, you’ll need to get the right insurance policy in place. Here are the key points to consider if you’re planning to hire a bike or take yours abroad.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
23 MARCH 2022
6 min read
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Will my travel insurance cover me to hire a motorcycle abroad? 

The answer varies according to your policy. And in those cases where cover is provided, there might be requirements and restrictions. For example, cover is almost certainly only valid if you wear a helmet. 

If your travel insurance does include hiring a motorcycle abroad, it may only cover bikes, mopeds and scooters with an engine size of under 125cc, so if you’re looking to ride something more powerful, you may need specialist cover.

If you know you’re going to hire a motorcycle while you’re away, or if you think it’s a possibility, you should check your travel insurance policy (or any policy you are considering buying) has the cover you need. 

Remember that travel insurance provides cover for you and your personal belongings, so while you might be able to claim for injuries sustained while using the bike, you won’t be covered if the bike is stolen or damaged. Insurance for the bike should be included as part of any hire arrangement you enter into. 

Whenever you ride a motorcycle overseas, remember to follow the local rules of the road – if you don’t, you might invalidate your insurance.

Do I need a licence to hire a motorcycle abroad? 

If you’re planning on hiring a motorcycle in Europe, you’ll need your full motorcycle licence. A provisional licence and CBT training won’t cut it. You will also only be able to ride bikes with the same engine size that you’re qualified for in the UK, so if you have an A1 UK licence, you won’t be able to hire or ride motorcycles above 125cc

Although you may find countries where you’ll be able to hire mopeds and scooters without a licence, be aware that you could still face fines and the wrath of the local police if you get caught riding without one. 

If you’re heading to the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein you’ll be fine to drive with your UK photo driving licence, but if you’re heading any further afield or you only have a paper licence, you’ll need to get an international driving permit (IDP).

What cover do I need to ride my motorcycle in Europe? 

You’ll need a minimum of third party cover when riding in EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. All vehicle insurance in the UK includes at least third-party cover for driving in the EU and Ireland. If you have a comprehensive policy in the UK you may automatically have the same level of cover abroad, or you may have to pay extra to get that level of protection. 

There may be a limit on the number of days’ cover provided under a normal UK insurance policy, but be sure to check. If you’re travelling for longer, you might consider a ‘touring’ policy, where cover could be available for up to 180 days or longer.

Also, note that the rules around insuring a motorbike in Europe are subject to change depending on the continuing impact of Brexit. For example, you may need to obtain a ‘green card’ from your insurance provider to demonstrate that you have cover in place. Although a green card is not currently required for riding in EU countries, you’ll need one if you’re heading to Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland.

Make sure you have enough cover for your motorcycle equipment, including specialist clothing, in case it's lost, stolen or damaged.

What should motorcycle travel insurance cover? 

There are three levels of cover available for riding your motorcycle abroad: 

  • Third party is the minimum level of cover required to ride in the UK and Europe. It covers you for any damage you cause to other people, other vehicles and property.
  • Third party, theft and fire will also cover you if your bike is stolen or damaged by fire. Check the terms to see if you’ll be able to get a replacement bike to finish your trip if yours is stolen or vandalised.
  • Fully comprehensive is the highest level of cover. It covers you for damage to your bike too. 

Travel motorcycle insurance will ideally also cover: 

  • Medical expenses - to cover any emergency medical treatment you need while you’re abroad.
  • Repatriation - to get you back home in case of a serious illness or injury.
  • Personal accident cover - to compensate you or your loved ones in the case of a serious or fatal accident.
  • Personal liability - to cover legal fees if someone makes a claim against you.
  • Trip cancellations and delays
  • Luggage cover - to help your recoup the costs if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged while you’re on holiday.

What is not covered by motorcycle travel insurance? 

As with standard travel insurance policies, there are a few common exemptions to bear in mind when you’re travelling with your motorcycle. You probably won’t be covered if: 

  • You have an accident or suffer an injury while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • You fail to follow the rules of the road of the country you’re travelling in.
  • You’re not taking adequate safety precautions – that means wearing your helmet when riding, even if it’s not required by local laws.
  • You disregard travel advice issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) warning you against travel to a certain country or territory.

What extra cover can I add to my motorcycle travel insurance policy? 

You may want to consider adding European breakdown cover to your policy in case you need roadside assistance while you’re on holiday.

Your leathers and helmets are expensive, so check they’re covered by your motorcycle travel insurance for loss, theft or damage. You can add extra baggage and accessories cover to protect anything you’re carrying with you on your bike that’s not included on your policy’s standard luggage cover. 

You’ll also need to arrange pillion cover for your passengers if you’re planning on taking anyone along with you on the back of your bike. 

If you’re taking part in any track days or planning on heading on an off-road adventure, you may find that you’ll need specialist cover. 

If your plans change while you’re away and it looks like you’ll need extra cover – for example if you decide to stay away for longer – get in touch with your insurance provider and ask to amend your policy.

How to stay safe when riding your motorbike abroad 

Here’s a few safety tips to bear in mind when you’re travelling abroad with your motorcycle or hiring one on holiday: 

  • Always wear your helmet and protective clothing. It’s there to protect you in case of an accident, and it can make the difference between a close call and a serious injury. Even if it’s not required by law where you’re riding, you’ll invalidate your insurance policy if you ride without a helmet. And for your own personal safety, it’s not worth the risk. 
  • Read up on local driving laws and safety regulations. Not only will it help keep you on the right side of the local police, but it’ll also help you read the road better.
  • Watch your speed and take breaks. You’re there to enjoy the scenery, so take your time, especially on curvy mountain roads. Take regular breaks to keep your riding skills sharp and appreciate the local sights.
  • Check local safety regulations. In France, for example, you’re required to have a hi-vis jacket with you, and in some EU countries you’ll need to carry spare bulbs.
  •  Get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) card. If your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card has expired, don’t despair - you can apply for a GHIC to help you access state medical treatment in the EU. But bear in mind that the GHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance and it won’t cover you for any private treatment you may need.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

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Let us know what you need and we’ll compare travel insurance deals that ensure you get the right level of cover ahead of your trip. It can take a matter of minutes to get a quote and you could start saving.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need specialist motorcycle travel insurance?

A specialist motorcycle travel insurance policy may be a good idea if you’re planning an extended trip, as it’s tailored more to the specific challenges and risks of travelling by motorcycle. Touring cover is the best option for longer trips.

You may also need a specialist policy if you have any off-road routes or track days in mind. 

Before you take out any extra cover, first check what’s covered by your motorcycle insurance and any standard travel insurance you have already taken out.

How much motorcycle travel insurance cover do I need?

It depends on your circumstances and the trip you have planned. Here are a few things to consider when you compare quotes: 

  • Make sure the cancellation cover will compensate you fully for what you’re paying in advance for your trip.
  • Choose an appropriate level of baggage cover to protect any belongings you’re taking on your bike, and check the excess is reasonable.
  • If you’re heading outside of Europe, you’ll need a high level of cover for medical treatment – especially if you’re going to the USA or Canada.
  • Motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries or worse. Make sure you have enough personal accident cover to compensate you if you’re left with a debilitating injury.

How long will motorcycle travel insurance cover me for?

If you’re planning on riding in Europe on your UK motorcycle insurance, check the terms carefully, as there may be a limit on how long your cover will last. It might be as little as 30 days, or it could stretch to 90 days, depending on your policy. Standard motorcycle travel insurance policies may also be limited to shorter 30-day trips. If you’re planning a grander adventure of up to 180 days, you may have to arrange touring cover.

What countries are covered by motorcycle travel insurance?

You can find motorcycle travel insurance to cover you wherever the open road takes you. When you compare travel insurance quotes you can choose between European and Worldwide cover, including or excluding the USA and Canada. You’ll typically have to pay more for worldwide cover, especially if you’re heading to North America, because of higher medical treatment and repatriation costs. Make sure you’re completely honest about where you’re going to avoid invalidating your policy.

What documents do I need to take with me to ride my motorcycle abroad?

If you’re riding your own motorcycle on holiday, you’ll need to take: 

  • Your full UK driving licence or International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • Your passport
  • Your insurance certificate or Green Card
  • A copy of your breakdown policy details, if you have one
  • Your original vehicle registration certificate or V5C document.

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Anna McEntee - Home, pet and travel insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

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