The first option is to ask your friends. If they’re local to you, their insurance quotes will probably be more relevant than friends who live elsewhere. But don't count on it. Insurance is an inexact science. If your friends' bikes are essentially the same as yours, that will probably help too when making price assessments. And if your friends are in the same line of work or otherwise fit your demographic, that's also useful for comparison purposes.
However, your financial standing (County Court Judgements, bankruptcy history, general credit risk); legal standing (accrued licence points, recent convictions, pending convictions, etc); will have an impact. And if you’ve ever been refused insurance or been caught ripping off an insurance firm, you’re going to regret it when the new quote comes down the line.
Detail, therefore, is the key. And a good financial track record is paramount.
What's that? Your track record already looks like a train derailment? Well you'll just have to take it on the chin and slowly repair the damage. You made a mistake, and you'll need some time (and money) to put it right.
Next, remember that when you phone an insurance company, you’re not talking to an expert. You’re not necessarily talking to anyone with specialised knowledge, or even general knowledge, of motorcycling. You’re simply talking to an ordinary low-paid guy or a girl who might be anywhere from Dundee to Mumbai. They’re bored, sitting at a computer with a telephone plugged into their ear and maybe a half eaten sandwich on the desk, or a cold cup of coffee, and they’re simply reading through a script and smiling mechanically and pressing buttons with no interest in your peculiar problems.
They might be friendly, or they might be cool. But they don’t care about your problems. Why should they? So when you get a "ridiculous" quote for your bike and explain that you live in a low-crime area with more CCTV than the Pentagon and bigger alarms than the Bank of England, they won’t bat an eyelid. They’ll simply quote you a figure that’s been computer generated by the data you gave ‘em. All you can do is give them some abuse, hang up, and try elsewhere.
The point is, the data you give them makes all the difference. And the relevance of that data will change depending on who’s crunching it. So one firm might not view a given bike in the same light as another firm. One firm might not agree that your bike is a classic whereby another firm will.
Reading and studying the small print
What you must do is tell your potential broker what you do and don't want. For instance, you want basic third-party insurance and no-frills. That means you don't want roadside call-out or recovery; you don't want their £1million legal package; and you don't want a "free" hire car option following an accident or incident.
You need to ask what other "treats" or extras might have been automatically included in the quote. Legally, this helps put you on stronger ground should you later have a dispute. In other words, if you ask to have the aforementioned treats and extras removed, and you later discover that something has been included and charged for, the firm could be creating a dodgy contract that won't stand up to scrutiny. You might then be entitled to have some, or all, of your premiums reimbursed.
Therefore, you must listen clearly to what's on the table. But here's an important point: get the firm to quote BEFORE you start removing the treats and extras.
Why? Because if they quote you £300 after you've trimmed the fat, there's nothing to haggle with and they're more inclined to stand by that figure as the best quote they can offer. But if they quote you £300 with all kinds of automatic extras, they can hardly offer the same quote when you've thrown out all the junk.
So get the basic quote based on your age, location, motorcycle, motorcycle night storage, occupation, insurance history, marital status and all the other fixed points in your life, then haggle like hell. And if you're still not happy, ask to speak to a supervisor. They often have a little more latitude, and they're more inclined to understand that if they get you on their books, there's a good chance you'll stay there.
Feel free to tell them that.
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