They don’t make them like they used to. Classic, vintage and veteran motorcycles are all different, and you’ll probably need special insurance if you have one of them.
Some insurers will have special requirements for this special kind of insurance for enthusiasts, while others will offer this advanced cover for all motorcycle enthusiasts and all rides.
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What makes classic, vintage and veteran motorbike insurance different?
Classic motorcycle insurance is characterised by a few special features. Depending on the insurer, you might get a special policy with additional benefits, or you might get lower premiums than you would get with standard comprehensive cover for an equivalent sum insured.
Different insurers will have different requirements for classic motorcycle policies. For example, one might only offer it for motorcycles that are at least 25 years old, while others might offer it for rides that are at least 15 years old but only used recreationally or for special occasions.
Other insurers will have no special requirements and simply offer the full enthusiast-level cover for anyone who wants it.
Classic vehicle policies are characterised by a few distinct features:
- Comprehensive cover only. You generally cannot get lower levels of cover, such as third party only, with vintage cover. This generally protects your bike against all accident damage, theft, vandalism, fire, flooding and more.
- Agreed value. Differences in valuation and the impossibility of applying the usual rules of depreciation to vintage motorcycles mean you’re generally only able to get agreed value cover.
- Lay-up and low usage. It’s probably not your everyday ride and you might spend a lot of time tinkering, so some insurers will offer lay-up periods to keep premiums down. Others will offer low usage discounts if you ride it less frequently.
- Modifications cover. The agreed value cover can include all street legal modifications, which you can also insure against damage.
- Choice of repairer. This option may be more likely to be available with classic bike cover.
- Salvage rights. In the event of a total loss, where a vehicle is written off, standard vehicle insurance policies will typically give the insurer salvage rights. However, classic motorcycle insurance policies will often let you retain salvage rights. It may be important to check for this in particular.
Some of the features that apply to standard motorcycle insurance might not be available with classic bike cover. For example, you might not be able to get a hire car while your bike is out of commission the way you commonly can with standard comprehensive cover. Naturally, you won’t find a new replacement option or similar features, either.
Unlike cars, there are no real set definitions for vintage and veteran motorcycles in Australia, and they’re all classics. However, some insurers will have their own definitions.
What options should I look for in a policy?
It can be a good idea to find a policy that matches your usage. Consider how often you ride and how far you tend to ride per year. If you have distinct lay-up periods (such as never riding it in the winter) or usually only ride it once or twice a month, then it can be well worth specifically looking for lay-up options or limited-use discounts.
If you do select these options, or pick a policy with limited-use conditions, it’s important to stick to it and contact your insurer if plans change. While riding outside the conditions of your policy, such as during a specified lay-up period, you may not be insured.
Agreed value cover is essential for effective classic motorcycle cover, and if you have modifications it can be worth seeing whether they’re insured along with the bike itself.
Similarly, if you’re not comfortable letting just anyone handle repairs of your bike, you may want to look for policies that let you choose and use your own repairer.
Other than this, there are some particularly useful benefits and options to look for in all motorcycle insurance, especially classic bike cover.
- Riding gear cover. Helmets and other riding gear can be expensive. Motorcycle insurance will often cover riding gear separately from other belongings and have a higher limit.
- Emergency accommodation. This can be useful if you’re riding a long way from home.
- Emergency repairs. This can cover you for a set amount of unauthorised emergency repairs, such as for minor breakdowns.
- Storage and towing. Cover for the cost of safely transporting and storing your bike if it’s damaged.
- Roadside assistance. Some insurers will offer a roadside assistance network with comprehensive cover. Knowing who to call in the event of an accident or breakdown can be important.
- Pillion passenger and sidecar cover. If you’ll be carrying passengers at all, it’s worth checking how they might be covered.
Naturally, you should also check the extent of the damage cover as well to make sure it’s truly comprehensive insurance. It can be a good idea to specifically look at the types of damage you’re covered for as well as the exclusions which apply.
Exclusions to be aware of
Exclusions apply to vintage, veteran or classic motorcycle insurance as with any other vehicle cover. Some of the main exclusions you’ll probably encounter include the following:
- No cover for wear and tear, rust, corrosion or deterioration.
- No cover while riding a non-roadworthy or non-street legal bike.
- No cover for damage or loss resulting from faulty repairs or unapproved repairs.
- No cover for tyre damage caused by road punctures.
- No cover while riding on a race track in a time trial or similar.
Classic motorcycle insurance cost and excess
The excess is the amount that you need to pay in the event of a claim. The insurer may waive the excess under certain conditions, such as if another driver is at fault or for certain types of claims. More than one excess may apply to your policy and you will need to pay all applicable ones.
- Basic excess. Sometimes known as a voluntary excess, you are often able to choose how much this is. You can select a higher excess for lower premiums or a lower excess for higher premiums.
- Age and experience excess. People under 25 and inexperienced riders who only have a learner or provisional motorcycle license can expect an additional excess.
- Special excess. Depending on the insurer and your policy, additional excesses may apply to you.
While you only need to pay the excess in the event of a claim, your premiums are the ongoing cost of the insurance policy. You are often able to choose to pay monthly, quarterly or annually, and may be able to get discounts by making annual payments.
Your premiums are the main cost of your policy and are generally affected by the following:
- Age and gender. Riders under 25 can expect higher premiums, while some insurers will also offer lower premiums for women, who are statistically at lower risk of accidents than men.
- Your sum insured. The agreed value at which you’ve insured your motorcycle directly affects premiums.
- How you use your vehicle. If you have limited-use discounts, specific lay-up periods or generally only ride occasionally, you can often get lower premiums.
- Where your vehicle is kept when not in use. You can get lower premiums by keeping your motorcycle in an enclosed and secure place when not in use.
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