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Classic Motorcycle Insurance – Everything You Need To Know

The stars finally aligned and you have managed to get your hands on your dream 1964 Triumph Bonneville. You now need to protect your pride and joy with some classic bike insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Classic Motorcycle Insurance?

Classic motorbike insurance allows you to keep and ride your vintage or classic bike legally in the UK, USA or any other country where insurance cover is a legal requirement.

In the UK the only time a vehicle can be kept without insurance is if it is declared as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).

Apart from it generally being cheaper, the main difference between your regular and a classic insurance policy is that the value of your classic motorcycle is agreed so that should it be written off you don’t just receive the market value.

Some of the classic motorcycle insurance companies in the UK will have a minimum rider age limit of 25. Others will accept riders at 21 or over as long as they have a full A1 licence.

As with standard vehicle insurance, in the UK you can choose the level of cover for your classic motorbike, either third party only, third party fire and theft or fully comprehensive.

How old does a Motorcycle have to be for Classic Motorcycle Insurance?

Insurers who offer classic motorbike cover set out their own definition of what age qualifies as a classic bike. Of the ten reputable motorcycle insurance companies I checked, the lower limit was 15 years old and the upper was 31.

  • Hagerty consider anything pre 1990 as a classic bike
  • Carole Nash defines a classic bike as being between 20 and 30 years old. Over 30 and it qualifies for their vintage insurance cover.
  • Bennetts will consider any classic bike over 15 years old for one of their insurance policies.

It’s important to note that a classic bike isn’t just defined by its age. There are plenty of bikes featured in our ‘Iconic Bikes‘ series that can be purchased for a couple of grand any day of the week on eBay.

If you are in the UK and your classic bike is one of the marque European or UK manufacturers such as BSA, BMW, Ariel, Ducati, Moto Guzzi or Triumph, then as long as it meets the insurers age qualification you are not going to have a problem finding a classic bike insurance policy. Similarly, you could also add most of the older Harley Davidson and Indian bikes to that list as well.

The water is a little mirkier when it comes to Japanese classic bikes but generally insurers will give consideration to the value of your bike, its potential for future appreciation, any modifications, mileage and whether there is limited availability.

A bit of common sense is required here but the rarer and more coveted the model, the more likely they are to consider it a classic. So, if you are sat on something like a Honda VFR750R then you’re golden, a 15 year old Honda C90 then not so much.

A classic motorbike insurance quote is free so simply call a few specialist insurers to ask if your vehicle qualifies.

When does a motorcycle become vintage?

a Vincent Black Shadow requires Vintage motorcycle insurance
Desirability? ✔ Steeped in heritage? ✔ Historical significance? ✔

For insurance purposes in the UK a bike is generally considered a vintage motorcycle if it is over 30 years old. This can vary from one insurance company to the next but 30 seems to be the average.

As with classic bike insurance, vintage motorbike insurance isn’t just about how old your ride is. Specialist brokers will expect your motorcycle to have desirability, heritage and historical significance to qualify for cover with one of their policies.

Note that any broker offering classic motorbike insurance will cover any bike older than their minimum age, there is no upper limit. For example, if you ride a 1938 Triumph Speed Twin, they will happily accept you as a customer on a classic bike policy.

Future Classic Bike Insurance

Ducati 999 is a future classic
The Ducati 999 is the type of motorcycle future classic bike insurance is designed for

Back in 2006 you ignored the naysayers and treated yourself to a Ducati 999. Your heart soon told you it was a future modern classic and you always cleaned it thoroughly after every ride, always kept it garaged, limited yourself to Summer weekend rides and you’ve been meticulous with the yearly service.

A few insurance companies are now offering future classic motorbike insurance for riders just like you.

It’s basically a standard insurance policy but comes with extras thrown in such as agreed value, low access and salvage retention rights so you get first refusal to buy your ride back should it be written off in an accident.

Links to insurers offering this service can be found in the table at the bottom of this page.

Agreed Value of your Classic Motorcycle

Having an agreed value means you are guaranteed the amount you will receive should the worst happens and you have to put in a total loss claim.

This doesn’t mean you can just think of a number then double it. You will need to back up what you consider your bike is worth and some companies may ask for a recent valuation from a reputable classic motorbikes dealer.

If your motorbike has a history with paperwork to back it up then this can also be considered. For example, a BSA Gold Star that was ridden to a top 10 place in a TT race is going to have a higher value than one that didn’t.

If it’s been restored, who did the work and do you have all the receipts? A restoration by a specialist will be worth more than a home shed project but even if you did do it yourself, you still need to produce receipts as evidence of work done if it effects your valuation.

Once you have the value of your bike you may be asked to fill out and submit an agreed value form together with any other paperwork that backs up your value and probably some current photos.

Most specialist classic motorcycle insurance companies either offer an agreed value as standard or as an additional option.

Is Classic Motorcycle Insurance Cheaper?

Generally, classic motorcycle insurance is cheaper than a standard motorcycle insurance policy. As a classic bike owner, it is assumed you are a mature rider and that you will take care of your pride and joy. Insurers also expect that you will ride it much less than a regular motorcycle so mileage is kept to a minimal and when not in use, the vehicle will be kept safely locked away from prying eyes.

Classic bikes are also harder for thieves to sell on which makes them less of a target for criminals.

All of this means you are less likely to submit a claim for either a road accident or for fire and theft so the price of your premium will cost less than what you pay for your modern bike.

Adding Your Classic Bike to a Multi Motorbike Insurance Policy

Classic motorcycles on show
If you own several classic bikes then a multi motorcycle insurance policy is the way to go

Some insurance brokers offer a multi motorbike insurance policy so you can add your classic bike onto your regular motorbike policy but this might mean you don’t get to access to agreed value, low mileage discounts etc.

A few specialist insurers offer a classic bike multi insurance policy so if you are the owner of more than one classic motorcycle this should be considered.

The benefits to having all your classic bikes on one policy are that it means less paperwork and admin so the cost is much less than having individual policies and you only have to renew one policy per year instead of several.

Note you would still be required to submit the relevant paper work, forms and valuations for each classic bike if you wanted an agreed value on each.

Getting Quotes to Compare Cover and Cost

Below is a list of reputable brokers offering classic motorcycle insurance together with links to the appropriate pages on their website for more information. It is to help you get a quote from several insurance brokers so you can compare cost and cover offered. All are well known, reputable companies who offer free quotes and all are authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority.

I am not a fan of comparison sites since it was revealed in the news that they simply recommend whichever company pays them the most for sending a customer to them.

I am not affiliated with any of the companies on the list below in any way. Neither have I used their insurance services as I live on the Isle of Man and use a Manx broker so do your own due diligence. The list is simply for your convenience.

When you call an insurance broker and they give you a quote make sure you get a firm reference number so that should you want to use their services you can speed the process up when you can call them back.

I would recommend you do not take the first quote and always get several so you can compare exactly what services are being included to ensure you have the cover you want.

For example, do you enter your classic bike in shows or take it to events? Do you take it abroad once a year? Is it a 90 year old bone shaker so you need breakdown cover? Several insurance brokers will offer some of these as standard with their classic motorcycle insurance policy, some will charge extra for them but offer other services for free with your policy.

This is why it is always important to compare several policies to ensure you get the motorcycle cover that best suits your needs.

Info you may be asked when phoning for a quote

  • Make, model and year your ride was first registered and the registration number
  • What cover you require – third party, third party fire and theft or comprehensive
  • How many bikes you own
  • Any modifications or work done on your ride
  • When you purchased
  • A valuation – an estimate will do for the quote
  • Where it is kept when not in use
  • Average mileage expected to be covered in a year
  • Your details, DOB, address, occupation etc.
  • Licence details and any no claims bonus, any convictions etc.

Six Classic Motorcycle Insurance Brokers

Click for infoMinimum Bike AgeVintage Specific
Future Classic
Online quote or phone #
Bennetts15NoNoOnline quote
Carole Nash20 to 30YesYesOnline quote : Tel: 0333 005 3355
Hagertypre 1990NoNoOnline quote : Tel: 0333 323 1138
BeMoto20NoYesOnline quote : Tel: 0173 390 7000
BikeSure30NoNoOnline quote : Tel: 0333 696 9763
Footman James15NoNoOnline quote : Tel: 0333 207 6120
All links open in a new tab and go to the appropriate page at the company website

If you use a different online insurance broker ensure they are authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority. There are a lot of dodgy websites offering all types of insurance – if you have never heard of them and the quote is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake website selling fake policies.

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