Choosing Vintage Motorcycle Insurance

May 14, 2017

Specific vintage motorcycle insurance requirements vary from country to country, but wherever you live and ride, you probably have to carry liability insurance. Even if your vintage motorcycle is not street legal you may need insurance just to ride it at closed area events.

Your vintage motorcycle may be more valuable to you than money alone can express, but a well chosen insurance policy will be some consolation if your faithful steed gets damaged. Conversely looking sadly at a photo of your pre crash bike and paltry sum from the insurance agent could make a strong man shed a tear of regret, so first off, let’s discuss “Agreed Value,” the lynch pin of vintage motorcycle insurance policies.

motorcycle in bad condition

Agreed Value: How Much is This Motorcycle Worth.. to WHOM?

Agreed Value – The Key to Vintage Motorcycle Insurance

Vintage motorcycle values are difficult to assess. One man’s <trash> – we shudder to think – is another man’s treasure. Potential resale prices depend on factors specific to the individual motorcycle and finding the ideal buyer. Consequently assessments can vary greatly. Values for rare bikes are also quite subjective.

For this reason, vintage motorcycle insurers will often offer “Agreed Value” policies, rather than relying on standardized value set by observation of a large and orderly market, as they do with contemporary motorcycles. With this type of policy, you determine the value you would like to have coverage for. If your bike is worth a lot to you, you can get a more expensive policy to cover it. If the insured bike is badly damaged, you can agree to give up the bike and get the agreed value, or keep the bike and accept the difference between the salvage value and the agreed value.

Unlike conventional policies, agreed value policies have no built in depreciation. If anything, your vintage bike may go up in value over the years! You can apply to modify the policy, propose a new value and accept a new premium if you believe your bike has appreciated in value. If you make modifications to your vintage motorcycle that enhance its value, you might want to consider applying for a new agreed value for those.

Other Policy Features To Look For

Most insurers offering policies targeted to vintage riders understand you may want original parts. This facet is often optional. If your bike already has a lot of newer parts in the rebuild, it might make sense to opt out of this type of coverage. Many motorcycle owners enjoy taking trips across national borders on their bikes. If you are one of them, you will want to look into international liability and breakdown coverage.This kind of coverage may be offered year round or for a limited number of days a year. You may also want to get a policy that gives you liability coverage if you are riding a friend’s bike. Then you can trade bikes for a bit and still be fully covered.

vintage harley davidson motorcycle

Rennet Stowe – Antique Harley Davidson – CC 2

Get Vintage Motorcycle Insurance Discounts

As you shop around for vintage motorcycle insurance prices, take note of possible savings. If you meet their criteria, some insurers that don’t seem to be a great deal initially could end up offering the lowest price. Since you will be paying those premiums every month for many happy years of riding, it’s worth choosing carefully to get the best price. On average, vintage motorcycles spend more time in the garage and less time on the road than contemporary motorcycles. Consequently, low mileage discounts will be the largest source of savings for many vintage motorcycle owners and riders.

Different insurers offer different discounts. You might earn a discount with:

  • low total mileage agreement
  • safe riding history on a vintage motorcycle
  • winter layup agreement
  • membership in a club
  • secure storage.

Take a look at each insurer’s discount policy and calculate your real final price before making your decision.

old chopper with vintage motorcycle insurance

Vintage Motorcycle Insurance Companies

It is not hard to find vintage motorcycle insurance. Huge companies offer vintage motorcycle insurance. Huge companies offer modern motorcycles too, but you chose a vintage one. Maybe insurance from a huge corporation is not for you. Maybe vintage motorcycle insurance from a small company will fit better, like a tailored glove, or your worn-in saddle.

Vintage motorcycle culture is strong in the UK. The  UK Vintage Motorcycle Club and the UK Vintage Motorcycle Museum have a deal with Footman James. Footman James is for real. Footman James has focused on vintage motorcycles for 30 years and they really understand their customers’ passion. Their standard policy starts with £750 of coverage for your vintage motorcycle helmet and leathers. If that is a bit much, you can customize the policy as you wish. Carole Nash, another small UK firm, also insures a lot of riders with a relatively bespoke approach.

In Italy, The Italian Motorcycle Federation has a deal with the Bartolini & Mauri to provide specialized products for vintage motorcycle owners. Special discounts are available for IMF club members who register their bikes with the National Historic Registry.

In France, all motorcycles that are not currently for sale new must be registered with the French Federation of Vehicles of Epoch (FFVE) as a first step. And then you have to fork over a ton of money. Considerably more than in other countries. We hear AMV is somewhat specialized in motorcycles and AXA, and AGF have large departments with some satisfied customers.  In Germany, Louis Fun Company Motorcycle recommends DEVK Versicherungen.  There, you can choose not to carry coverage for damage to your our own vehicle and just get liability. But then what’s the point? It’s all about the bike!

A Man Who Was All About the Bike

Speaking of all about the bike….

Do you know the story of Burt Munro and the World’s Fastest Indian? Left his wife, quit his job, lived in a machine shack, made his tools by hand, smelted new alloys in a home forge. Worked on his Indian for four decades, and then in 1967 set a land speed record on a machine that was over 40 years old. Read the incredible story of motorcycle legend Burt Munro, or check out this story of Carl Clancy Stearns and the first motorcycle trip around the world.

What’s Your Vintage Motorcycle Insurance Story?

Do you already have insurance for a vintage motorcycle? Or perhaps you know a mate that does? How has your experience been with your insurer? Any tales of deep understanding and heroic support or devious malfeasance from your insurers? Fine print items to watch out for? Maybe you are just getting started. Please bring us along for the ride and share your story in the comments.