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Do I need to declare motorcycle modifications to my insurer?

Q56 Ducati748 - Do I need to declare motorcycle modifications to my insurer?

Sometimes we just can’t resist.  A little tweak here and there can make our bikes look better than ever before.  If you are in the market for adding extra whistles and bells to your motorbike, you may need make your insurance company aware of certain types of modifications to prevent your insurance from becoming invalidated.

It is impossible to say what your insurer does and does not want you to declare. This guide is put together in good faith. Please consult your insurer if you are in any doubt.

Common Mods For Motorbikes In The UK

Modifications can be made to your motorbike to enhance its performance, its appearance and even to help make it safer for you as a rider.

Owners looking to improve the appearance of their bike could opt or something as simple as changing the material of the seat or altering the handles. Owners also often choose to add carbon fibre parts, chrome parts, decals, paintwork and in some cases even make adjustments to wheels and fairings.

Safety enhancements could include adding an ABS system to your bike or you may want to go all out and add performance-enhancing additions like exhausts, shock absorbers or even tyres to your bike to give it more oomph!

Do I Need To Report Every Modification I Make To My Insurer?

Modifications are defined as ‘road legal changes to your bike that enhance performance, value or theft appeal’.  Your insurer will not need to be made aware every time you touch up a bit of paint or upgrade your tyres to a better version.

In fact, there are many commonplace modifications that your insurer will probably not be interested in.  These could include adaptations to:

  1. Disability Adapted
  2. Air Filter Changes
  3. Bar Ends
  4. Braided Hoses
  5. Decals/Stickers (unless Race Replica)
  6. Grippers
  7. Heated Grips
  8. Huggers
  9. Lights/Indicators/Mirrors
  10. Scottoilers
  11. Screen Changes
  12. Seat Replacement
  13. Seat Cowl/Single Seat Units
  14. Sissy Bars (Long Back Rest)
  15. Tail Tidy
  16. Tank Pads

Which Modifications Must I Tell My Insurance Company About?

If you are planning on tuning your engine, upgrading your exhaust, changing your wheels or even fitting panniers, you will need to tell your insurance company all about it.  Motorcycle culture is steeped in the tradition of modifications so it comes as little surprise to insurers that owners can often change their bikes beyond recognition.

It goes without saying; if you’ve shoe-horned a GSX-R750 engine into your GSX-R600 or a 1198 engine into your 848, you’re going to beed to declare it.

Any post-manufacture change, alterations or additions you make are considered to be modifications, and it’s your legal duty to inform your insurer of the exact modifications made.  Your insurance company may well increase the cost of your cover, or in some instances, they may decline to cover your bike as a result of the modifications you have made.   If this happens, there are specialist insurers that deal with modified cars and motorbikes who may be able to help you.

The list of modifications you should consult your insurer about are as follows:

Performance Modifications

  • A full exhaust or slip-on exhaust system
  • Dyno work including a Power Commander or engine remap
  • Turbos, Superchargers, big-bores, gas-flow work and blueprinting
  • Lightweight wheels, including carbon-fibre and magnesium

Cosmetic Modifications

  • Carbon fibre aftermarket bodywork
  • A new paint job or different color

Bespoke parts

  • A custom swinging arm
  • Different headstock or forks from another bike
  • Parts from another bike, modified to fit yours

Premiums for modified bikes can be increased if your insurer thinks that you have potentially increased the desirability of your bike, the performance of your bike or even just because you have added parts that will be expensive to replace should you need to make a claim.

The moral of the story is if in doubt, ask about.  The garage where you have the work done should be able to advise you, or just speak to your insurance company directly before you make mods to your beloved motorbike.