Performance enhancements and the impact on motorcycle insurance

27th August 2021

Performance enhancements and the impact on motorcycle insurance

Motorcycle modifications must be declared to insurers – or owners risk insurers refusing to pay out when a claim is made.

That’s the warning today from Zoe Beviss, Major Trauma Case Handler in the Personal Injury team at Higgs LLP.

Zoe says that it is imperative insurers have accurate information and details of any enhancements.

“If changes to the motorcycle are carried out and the insurer has not been informed, expect a reluctance to pay out when a claim is made,” said Zoe. “This will be especially true if the modification is a factor in the claim.

“The worst case scenario is the insurers may invalidate the policy, leaving the motorcycle with no insurance in place whatsoever.”

When calculating the premium, insurers may look at whether the modification enhances the motorcycle’s performance or whether cosmetic modifications may increase the risk of theft.

Zoe says some insurers may still agree to insure the motorcycle but then look toadd an increased excess. It may also be stipulated that in the event of a repair,some modifications may not be included. It may be agreed with the insurers that some benefits may be removed or in fact restrictions to driving agreed.

Zoe added: “Some people may not notify their insurers of modifications for fear that modifications may increase the premium. However, it is important to note that not all modifications will result in an increased premium.

“It is acknowledged that, yes, some modifications will increase premiums, but some of the most common modifications may not actually have any impact on the premium, or very little impact.

“If you were to upgrade your braking system or increase your engine capacity by up to 5%, this may have virtually no impact on the premium.

“You may see a small to moderate increase in premiums, however, if you were to upgrade or modify tank pads, wheels or even suspension.

“You will see a large increase in premiums with the likes of adding a performance-enhancing exhaust, adding nitrous oxide injection or by modifying the engine capacity over 5%.”

Three common modifications Zoe believes owners should be aware of and the implications this may have on insurance are:

Derestricting your bike – Removing the restriction will invalidate any warranty. It could also mean tax class becomes invalid as well as the driver’s entitlement to ride. Derestricting your bike could invalidate your insurance policy.

Removal of a catalytic converter - A catalytic converter releases a chemical catalyst that acts upon the gases that travel through a motorcycle’s muffler and exhaust and converts those gasses into states that are less harmful to the environment. By removing the catalytic convertor it can not only increase power to your bike but also change the sound. It may also mean the bike is now illegal. This is again another modification that may invalidate your insurance policy.

Upgrading your air filter – Upgrading your air filter should improve airflow, this could slightly change your performance. Even with this minor modification it is important to check with your insurance company to ensure this does not alter your policy in any way.

Zoe says that if people have any questions or concerns as to whether their motorcycle is insured correctly they should contact their insurance company.

Zoe added: “You could potentially be driving your motorcycle with invalid insurance. It is important to ensure that your motorcycle is insured correctly to ensure you do not incur any fines or penalties but, most importantly, if you were to be involved in an accident you are covered correctly by your insurance.”

If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault while riding your motorcycle and sustained injury as a result, contact Higgs LLP on 01384 327200 for assistance.


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