So you’ve finally decided to pull the pin and book up for the trip of a lifetime. You’ve got your holiday on the wall planner at work, your flights have all been booked and paid for, and perhaps most importantly, your ‘significant other’ has given you the green light. It’s all systems go for an epic riding adventure – you don’t want to be thinking about boring motorcycle travel insurance …
Except you do. Before you even start packing your Alpinestars, you need to sort yourself proper insurance. Travelling to foreign climates carries all kinds of potential risks, and if you are going to be riding bikes once you get there, then you just turned the danger factor right up to 11.
It’s an unavoidable fact that as soon as we sling our leg over the saddle of a motorcycle, whether at home or abroad, we go right to the top of the charts for risk profile – riding on unpredictable foreign roads on an unfamiliar bike unsurprisingly multiplies those risks considerably …
But you can’t just get away with off-the shelf travel insurance from a basic web search or price comparison site. Mainstream companies will be unlikely to take on your business once you tell them you’ll be riding bikes – they are more interested in the easy money of families who are looking to spend two weeks on the beach, or pensioners on a cruise round the Mediterranean.
And don’t think it’s just a question of being a bit economical with the truth about the real reason for your trip – if you fail to tell the insurers you will be riding and then subsequently have a bike related issue while abroad, don’t expect to get far with your claim …
It’s important to look carefully and compare cover between suitable companies and find a level of protection that you’re happy with. You can’t insure against every possible event, but should be able to find a policy that protects you against the most likely issues that you may encounter.
So, let’s look at the main things that proper motorcycle travel insurance will cover
UNEXPECTED NEED TO CANCEL
Let’s face it – life can throw us curve balls when we are least expecting it. From an untimely death in the family to unpredicted work problems, life can sometimes conspire to screw up our plans.
Assuming that we all ride bikes all year round, perhaps the highest possibility for needing to cancel a riding trip is picking up a riding injury in the run up to your holiday. Break a collarbone on your morning commute and you are not going to be crossing the Himalayas two weeks later! Damn …
From delays to actually reaching the airport; delays or cancellations to outgoing flights or the frustration of missed connections, just getting to where you are supposed to be to start your adventure is packed with pinch points where things can go wrong. Proper insurance means that you’ll be covered for the next appropriate flight and that someone’s going to sort out all the details.
Booking flights direct with an airline will ensure they will sort the problem far quicker than if you booked through a third party. It’s also important that if you have multiple flights then all of them are with the same airline as it’s their responsibility to get you to your intended destination and back.
OK so less likely, but if the place you are travelling to is in the grip of unexpected and dangerous natural conditions, your trip isn’t happening.
You do not want to fly into a hurricane zone, or set off towards a region that is still shaking from an earthquake. With the right policy in place, you can return when things have returned to an even keel without losing out.
It’s a sad but unavoidable factor to life in the 21st century is becoming increasingly affected by terrorist acts. From problems in our home countries affecting travel plans to incidents in host destinations, we can’t afford to ignore the potential for problems with any travel plans. Your policy needs to cover you if your trip simply does not happen because of terrorist acts or the threat of terrorist acts.
LOST OR DELAYED LUGGAGE
OK you arrive in you dream destination, fresh and excited for your epic adventure, but as you wait by the luggage carousel there’s no sign of your kit bag. The bags stop coming round, the belt stops and you’ve got nothing – it’s a terrible feeling – we’ve been there!
With two weeks travel ahead of you, you’ll need a policy that will allow you replace the kit at very short notice – it’s no good your kit arriving four days later when you are 300 miles away in the Cambodian jungle.
Bike kit is not cheap, so trying to persuade a mainstream insurer that a Klim Jacket does actually cost close to £700 and you are not going to be happy with a Wal-Mart replacement, may be an uphill struggle.
A good policy will have suitable levels of cover for all your bike kit from helmets to boots, allow you to source an alternative quickly in your destination. They may also factor in cover so that if those temporary purchases are not a direct replacement of what you’ve lost, allow a full replacement on your return. A bad policy won’t.
LOOKING FOR AN EPIC MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE?
ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT COVER
So if you’re on the trip of a lifetime, you are going to want to record it. From Go Pros to DLSRs, all this kit is expensive and if it falls out of your tank bag at 60 mph, it’s not going to survive well. You need to cover all your tech against the risks and rigours of life on the road, not to mention loss or even worse – robbery. It’s a jungle out there!
On trips when you are staying in a different destination each night, the potential for losing stuff is pretty large. If it’s just the odd sock or the charging cable for your IPhone, then it’s not an issue, but if it’s your passport, then it certainly is.
Trying to solve this while on the road is going to be really tricky, so the ability to phone somebody who is going to help you sort out a replacement is an essential. India may be nice, but you might want to leave there at some point …
SICKNESS OR INJURY
Now we are into more familiar territory here as getting a bit poorly on holiday is not uncommon. From a bit of ‘unsettled stomach’ to insect bites or cuts and grazes or even worse we may need medical help when abroad, and getting good quality care is likely to cost.
As a motorcyclist with a higher risk profile than most, then this is the time when a motorcycle specific travel insurance policy is absolutely essential. If you break your ankle when you are off the beaten track, you need cover that is going to get you help and get it fast.
But don’t think the little injuries or wounds can be overlooked either – news reports this week feature a traveller who has developed sepsis from a simple mosquito bite in Cambodia. Medical cover could be the smartest purchase you ever make …
In the case of severe or potentially life changing injuries or sickness, chances are that you will be better off treated back home, so travel insurance should cover the entire costs of organising and facilitating this, from medical evacuation in remote areas, to medically supported flights to your home country.
It’s uncomfortable to think about, but it’s better to know that you have the cover and never need it, than go without the cover and find yourself with an enormous and financially crippling bill.
So that’s a few pointers to consider before you take out motorcycle travel insurance. Getting proper insurance is about assessing risk and taking appropriate steps to mitigate the potential effects of unforeseen circumstances.
If asked who we would use, there are two companies, Holiday Safe – here’s a link to their site or World Nomads – and here’s their link – but make sure what they are offering works for you and the specifics of your trip.
No matter what you might have heard about people having issues with insurance companies in the past, whether those issues related to travel issues or bike problems, don’t allow this to influence your decision as to whether to take out suitable cover for a motorcycle adventure. You need it – period.
Always be honest about your plans when filling in the forms – don’t take out a policy that restricts you to a 125cc and then hire a Royal Enfield Himalayan – they will find out if you have need to claim and at that point you will find yourself without cover.
The correct policy will not be expensive when you compare the costs to the potential bills and costs you may incur if you have no appropriate insurance ….