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Understanding how to insure your modified motorcycle can be confusing. The majority of bikes on UK roads have some form of personalisation and it is not always clear what is considered to be a modification in the eyes of the consumer when it comes to insurance.

In order to get some advice regarding insuring a modified motorbike we spoke with Nick Fenton, Founding Director of BeMoto motorcycle insurance – specialists in modified and multibike motorcycle insurance.

“Being Bikers we understand how to insure modified motorbikes and realise very little bikes are left in their standard, off the production line, form,” Nick explains. “We certainly can’t think of a bike that we have owned that hasn’t had at least a little personalised touch!”

Understanding what counts as a modification

Unlike a typical car owner, your bike is a lot more than just a vehicle – it’s a way of life, so it’s unsurprising that many riders choose to customise their bike to suit their own preferences, from a common change of an end can to a one-off build.

Whether the changes you make are little or large, the most important piece of advice Nick – a lifelong biker who rides a Ducati Panigale V4 S – could give is to make sure they are clearly disclosed to your insurer.

Nick said while it is uncommon to come across a standard bike, there are remaining misconceptions about what needs to be disclosed.

“In the eyes of insurance, modifications are any changes made to a motorcycle since it left the production line. These include any changes made by a motorcycle dealership, the owner and/or previous owners. If the motorcycle isn’t in the same specification as it left the production line you must disclose this to your insurer.

Most motorcycle insurance brokers will most likely have a list of modifications that do not need disclosing on their website – an ‘accepted as standard’ list. For example, most insurers won’t be worried about fitting heated grips, a slightly bigger screen and a tank protector. However, these lists are a ‘one size fits all’ and modifications are either an ‘accept’ or a ‘decline’ and do not take into account the profile of the rider.  Often the lists are not exhaustive enough to list the actual modification, modified motorcycling rarely fits a template.

In its most simple form, insurance is all about risk profiles. For example, two people with the exact same bikes and same modifications shouldn’t be treated as the same risk, if they have different experience. This is why it is often better for owners who have modified bikes to speak with a specialist broker who can look at the rider as an individual and provide a bespoke solution.

Common Modifications
  • Changes to motorbike styling: like the bodywork, fairings
  • Changes to the bike engine’s breathing and fuelling
  • Changes to the motorcycle engine: such as big bore kits and tuning.
  • Bike Instruments/Gauges: such as Gear Indicators
  • Changes to motorcycle chassis: Wheels (lightweight, such as carbon fibre), Customised subframe, Swingarm
  • Changes to motorbike brakes: Calipers, Discs, Levers, Master cylinders, Brake lines
  • Changes to the bike’s suspension, from a simple change of rear spring, ride height adjusters, internal components, oil weight…through to complete changes of rear shocks and front suspension forks.
  • Changes to the bike’s hand and foot levers and controls
  • Motorcycle bolt kits (e.g. anodised, aluminium, stainless steel, titanium)
  • Bike crash protection
What is not classed as a modification

There are two main changes to your bike which don’t have to be disclosed to your insurer unless they increase the performance of the motorcycle, enhance its value or increase its theft appeal.

1. Like-for like replacements parts:

Whether Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), genuine or pattern parts.

2. Consumable parts:

Such as fuel filters, tyres (if same as the standard size and specification), oil, oil filters, bulbs etc.

The risk of not disclosing modifications

It is common when completing an online insurance quote to find it difficult to disclose modifications, and this presents an inherent risk for the rider. So while cover may be able to be completed, when it comes to making a claim the rider could discover their policy is null and void. The onus is on the customer to disclose any changes to their motorcycle whether purchasing cover from a provider online or over the phone.

“If you haven’t fully disclosed your modifications then you risk insuring a bike that if the time comes to make a claim could potentially be rejected due to non-disclosure, Nick explains.

When going through the disclosure process it is also important to check the terms and conditions of the cover with the provider. Nick continues: “Your modifications may be covered, but that doesn’t mean they’ll replace your exact modifications. For example, you could see a £1000 exhaust replaced with the manufacturers’ original equipment. At BeMoto, we cover declared modifications and replace them like-for-like.”

Going direct to a bike insurer

By speaking directly with a bike insurance specialist, they’ll be able to ask you more questions to make sure that you get the cover you need for your bike and its modifications. The extra time on the phone could also uncover information to help reduce the price of a premium.

BeMoto has great relationships with the UK’s leading motorcycle insurance underwriters and works hard to provide suitable cover for modified bikes.

Nick explains. “The underwriter doesn’t have the time to necessarily look at each bike on an individual basis and overlay the rider profile to see if that bike is more of a risk than a non-modified bike.”  “They trust our judgement, and when it comes to modified bikes that’s really important.”

He went on to explain that the insurance market is often quick to deem a modified bike as high risk, but specialist motorcycle insurance providers like BeMoto are able to look at  each risk individually. “Speaking to someone who is a biker, or who is trained in motorcycling, makes a big difference in terms of their understanding when you’re talking about the modifications you’ve done.”

Understanding the value of your modifications

While some riders may feel that they’ve increased the value of their bike because of the money and time spent on personalising it, in some cases modifications can actually devalue a bike. Nick explains: “It is rare the bike will attract the extra value spent on the modifications. Likewise, if you think about bikes which become collectible or classic over time, an original specification bike is usually worth more.”

Quick tips for bikers

1. Read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy

Make sure your modifications are covered and find out what replacement you would get should your bike be damaged, is it like for like or just factory standard.

2. Make your insurer aware of any and all modifications (if they aren’t already)

It is important your insurer is aware of modifications to your bike, otherwise you can actually void your insurance policy and find yourself with no cover when you need it.

Bonus tip:

When it comes to choosing your insurer, look at how they approach modifications. A good place to check is on their website, particularly the terms and conditions. And if in doubt, give them a call. As mentioned previously, online quote forms might not give you the chance to list all your modifications, if they don’t make sure you pick up the phone and speak to the provider.