Vintage Honda CB750 Four
Vintage Honda CB750 Four Image: Sam Carter

Classic Motorcycle Insurance, a Guide

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Vintage and classic motorcycle insurance is comparatively cheap. Yet, choosing a provider is a task that few relish. Nevertheless, for the best classic bike insurance quote, it’s a task that should be performed annually.

We’ve made the process of obtaining a quote slightly easier by outlining what cover to consider when arranging classic bike insurance.

We’ve also answered some frequently asked questions.

But if you’re not interested in all of that simply skip to the list of the highest-rated, FCA-regulated (Financial Conduct Authority) companies, that offer insurance cover for older motorcycles.

Classic Bike Insurance: Overview

Vintage Honda CB750 Four
Vintage Honda CB750 Four Image: Sam Carter

Arranging motorcycle insurance whether standard or classic usually requires a dedicated morning or afternoon obtaining quotes. Insurance comparison sites might feature heavily in the process. Also, there may be several telephone calls and an online questionnaire or two. 

And for the more fiscally prudent rider, there may also be further time spent haggling with the existing or a prospective insurance provider.  

There’s no mistaking this for anything other than the chore it is. However, if it’s undertaken conscientiously it can reap a windfall in the form of a reduced premium or improved cover and benefits.

Given the exquisite nature and unique requirements of classic motorbikes, their use and ownership, motorcycle insurers have developed special policies for riders and owners of these machines. 

Classic Bike Ownership and Use

The policies vary at each firm but all take into consideration many different aspects of classic bike ownership. Considerations such as the fact that classic bikes are ridden less often. They’re also usually meticulously maintained by careful older, more experienced riders.

Consequently, if you’re an owner of a vintage/classic moto you can expect greatly reduced premiums in nearly most cases.

Definition of a Classic/Vintage Bike 

Giovanni Corti Classic Moto Guzzi
Classic Moto Guzzi V7 – Image: Giovanni Corti

What makes a motorcycle a classic, is an almost philosophical question. One to be endlessly debated in riding circles. Insurance companies on the other hand take a more pragmatic yet nuanced approach. 

All providers specify minimum age prerequisites somewhere between 15 and 30 years for classic bikes and 30 or 40 years for vintage bikes.

These age thresholds may also be accompanied by stipulations for make, model and even the perceived status of the machine from a collector’s perspective. This is especially true when considering future classics.

Ultimately, it means not all providers will offer cover for your particular bike. So save time by checking the specific criteria of each provider, before filling out forms or making calls.

Cover to Consider

There are four noteworthy components of classic bike policies to consider. Three of them will be applicable to nearly all owners: Agreed Value, Laid-up Cover, and Salvage Retention. The last is Static Display cover which will be applicable to only a few.

Virtually all insurers of classic two-wheel machines offer these four products. Some of the insurers even offer some of the cover as standard. Although, at most, you will have to pay for the additional cover.

Agreed Value Cover

Ducati 900 SS Desmo Shot
Ducati 900 Super Sport Desmo – Image: SHOT

Having an agreed value stipulation in your policy means peace of mind. Should you end up with a Total Loss claim (a write-off) it guarantees a pre-agreed value (between you and the insurer) for your bike.  

This is obviously a good thing as it insulates your motorcycle from the whims of the market. 

However, adding this type of cover usually comes with an increase in the monthly or annual premium and sometimes has an additional setup fee.  

Be prepared to provide detailed information including but not limited to high-quality photographs, verifiable independent valuations, maintenance records, a V5C and receipts, amongst other supporting documents.

Laid-Up Cover

Yamaha 100 Enduro Yulian
Laid Cover saves you money if your bike is off the road for a significant proportion of the year – Yamaha DT 100 Enduro – Image: Yulian As

If you’re not riding your bike, Laid-Up insurance covers it for Fire, Theft and Accidental damage. As the term suggests it’s applicable for owners of motorbikes that are stored away and not being ridden.

You’ll be in the company of the majority of classic riders if you only ride when the weather’s pleasant and the road conditions are good.  Mostly this means riding in the summer months only. 

During the winter the bike’s probably in the garage, covered with the battery on trickle charge. A Comprehensive policy in scenario means you’ll be paying for cover that you don’t need.  So laid insurance makes sense. 

Interwoven into such a policy is Agreed Value cover (see above). Although, bear in mind there may be higher bike age thresholds to qualify for this cover.

If your bike qualifies, the additional benefit is that you’re not required to declare your bike off the road. Therefore no need to apply for SORN (UK) when you’re not riding.

Salvage Retention Cover

Salvage Retention Honda CB350 Tchelo Veiga
Salvage Retention cover could be useful in the event of a Total Loss – Honda CB350 – Image: Tchelo Veiga

If you have a Total Loss (write-off) claim, then Salvage Retention cover will mean you retain the right to salvage your motorcycle. But that’s only if it falls into Category N or S, following the claim inspection.

However, if the bike is classed as a category A or B write-off it will no longer be safe for the road. In those instances regardless of retention cover, the motorcycle will be broken down with parts either (A) salvaged by professional firms or (B) crushed.

It’s definitely worth taking out Salvage Retention if you can’t bear to be parted from your bike no matter its condition. It also means restoring the bike to its former glory becomes an option in the unfortunate circumstance of a write-off.

Static Display Cover

Vintage Indian Scout Nate K
Vintage Indian Scout – Image: @motophotonate

If you intend on exhibiting your bike at shows, then Static Display cover should strongly be considered.  It’s a form of public liability insurance that will protect you from any mishaps with the viewing public at shows.  It also protects your asset from damage caused by the viewing public.

Summary of Cover to Consider

These four elements should be high on the needs list for a classic bike policy. However, roadside assistance, key cover, excess protection and multi-bike insurance (if applicable) should also appear somewhere on that list.

Best Classic Motorcycle Insurance

Honda Goldwing GL1000 Cockpit
Honda Goldwing GL1100 – Image: @motophotonate

There are several insurance firms that offer competitive specialist policies for classic, vintage and future-classic machines. Some do it all, others focus on one or two.

Your bike might be a classic British motorcycle from the 50s, an Italian superbike from the 70s, a UJM, an 80s Bavarian Boxer-twin tourer or a future classic like the Ducati Diavel. Maybe even, something altogether more obscure. In any case, you should find an insurer willing to cover your pride and joy.

And if you along with your bike go shiny side down or your machine needs a major repair, the following insurers should be there to pick up the pieces


So here, in order of online reputation and customer reviews are the seven best classic motorcycle insurance companies. 

They vary from well-known, generalist motorcycle insurance companies (offering classic policies) to classic motorbike specialists. (All the companies listed offer Comprehensive, Third-Party, Fire & Theft and Third-Party Only cover.) 

Without further ado here’s an overview of each provider.

Hagarty Classic Motorcycle Insurance

Hagerty Classic Insurance

First up is Hagarty, a US-owned specialist automotive insurer. Alongside its collectable classic motorcycle insurance product, it also covers classic cars, motorsports, high-value collections, global transit and car/bike clubs.  

The company prides itself on the flexibility of its cover.  As such, policyholders have the freedom to use their bikes for typical weekend runs and attend club events or shows. 

Comprehensive, third-party liability and damage, fire and theft cover is offered and can include Breakdown & Recovery, 90-day European touring cover and multi-bike discount. 

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Collectible classic British, Italian, Japanese and American motorbikes
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age:  Pre-1990 Classic Motorcycles
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes
  • Customer Service Rating: A near-perfect score of 4.9 out of 5 [Trustpilot]

Footman James

Footman James Specialist Classic Vintage Bike Insurance logo

Next up is another vintage and classic vehicle specialist. Set up in 1983 specifically with intention of providing insurance for niche markets, Footman James has been offering classic motorcycle insurance schemes for 35 years. Owners of motorbikes that are older than 15 years are welcome.

As owners of classic motorcycles themselves, the firm says it has close links with classic motorcycle enthusiasts. As such it’s created special rates for classic bike club members such as the VJMC (Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club). There’s an extensive list of clubs that benefit from the special rates. That means if you belong to one it’s likely to be on the list.

The standard cover comes with helmet and leathers up to the value of £750 and 35-day European cover.  However, it’s within its FJ+ policies that you find wider coverage. Options there include Laid Up, Agreed Value, Ride to Work, RAC Rescue and 90 days of European cover amongst others. 

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Vintage/Classic motorbikes valued at less than £150,000
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age:  15 years old
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes – An independent valuation and photographs may be requested before the cover is granted.
  • Customer Service Rating: 4.8 out of 5 [Feefoo]

Bemoto

Bemoto Vintage Classic Insurance logo

Peterborough-based Bemoto is a relative newcomer. Nevertheless, since 2015 it’s steadily built a strong reputation for a fairer and more transparent approach to bike insurance. Zero fees to make amendments are a prime example of this. 

It claims to be a lean operation run by bikers all of whom formerly had roles at bigger brokers/insurers.

Working with major underwriters and a panel of insurers the firm offers five products that comprehensively cover the full gambit of a classic motorbike owner’s needs: Vintage Motorcycle, Modern Classic Bike and Future Classic, SORN and VIN/Chasis Number insurance. 

The latter two options cover laid-up or unregistered restorations and pre-registration bikes, respectively. 

Within those products, BeMoto also offers a low excess, low mileage discounts, a free Agreed Value service and free legal expenses. That makes its offering one of the most comprehensive of all the companies on this list.

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Classic, Vintage and Modern-Classicmotorbikes
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age:  circa 20 years for Classic, 40-year-old MOT-exempt bikes for Vintage – Modern Classics (case-by-case)  
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes included free
  • Customer Service Rating: 4.7 out 5 [FeeFo]

Devitt Classic Bike Insurance

Devitt Classic Bike Insurance logo

Devitt is one of the oldest motorcycle insurance brokers on this list. It’s been operating since 1936. So unless it’s a rare antique motorcycle you’re seeking to insure, the chances are Devitt will have previously insured your particular model while it was still considered modern (if that counts for anything).

Devitt has a good reputation among classic, vintage and custom riders. It’s ingratiated itself with the community through the endorsement of various events found in the custom and classic motorbike calendar.

It offers cover for classic and modern classic motorbikes, to which Agreed Value cover can be added. There are also additional discounts for specific security systems associated with the bike, secure parking and advanced training. 

At the time of writing Devitt is also offering a 10% SportsBikeShop discount for classic bike policies.

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Classic and Modern-Classicmotorbikes
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age:  15 years depending on the insurer/underwriter
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes – optional
  • Customer Service Rating: 4.4 out of 5 [Trustpilot]

Carole Nash

Carole Nash Vintage Classic Motorcycle logo

Carole Nash is one of the most recognisable and largest insurance brokers on this list. Its attendance and patronage of Motorsports and Moto events are in part responsible for its visibility. Moreover, it’s been insuring bikes since 1985. 

The firm has an expansive range of products covering two wheels and more. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to find it offers cover for older bikes. 

There are three main products and each comes with several benefits: 1. Classic Motorbike Insurance (20 and 30 years old) 2. Vintage Motorcycle Insurance (for bikes over 30 years) and 3. Future Classic Bike insurance (for bikes between 10 and 20 years). Additionally, it offers laid-up policies.

Carole Nash’s policies include a host of benefits as standard, notably, Agreed Value, Salvage Retention Rights and Static Display cover. The latter is recommended if you plan to exhibit your bike at shows.

Carole Nash also gives special discounts to riders who are members of owners’ clubs.

  • Type of Bikes Covered? Vintage, Classic and Future Classic Motorbikes
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age?  Between 10 and 20 years for future classics, 20 – 30 years old for classic bikes and >30 for vintage bikes
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes, included free
  • Customer Service Rating? 4.3 [Trustpilot] 

Bikesure

Bikesure Classic Bike Insurance logo

Bikesure is another specialist that considers itself as doing things differently. It suggests that it’s able to offer cover where others cannot. 


Bikesure says it’s able to offer specifically tailored schemes, through its panel of specialist insurers. Those schemes can then be compared before you accept. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to speak with its underwriters to fine-tune your quote, prior to taking up a policy.   

Free breakdown cover, legal expenses and 90-day European Green Card cover are offered as standard. There is also great depth in the supplementary options offered with its policies, including Salvage Retention, Zero excess, Agreed Value and consideration for modified classics amongst others. 

The latter should bring peace of mind if you’ve transformed your bike into a café racer, bobber, scrambler or otherwise. Equally, those who’ve had to repair bikes using non-OEM components may find that appealing too.

Much like some of the other providers on this list, Bikesure also offers discounts for club membership, limited mileage, specific security precautions and prior experience riding classic bikes.

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Vintage/Classicmotorbikes and Modern-Classics
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age:  30 years however 1990 and 2000s models considered
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes, optional
  • Customer Service Rating: 4.3 [Trustpilot]

Bennetts

Bennetts Classic Bike Cover logo

Lastly, is another specialist motorbike broker established in 1930. Bennetts is a familiar name that also endorses various motorcycle related-events – not least of which is the Bennetts British Superbike Championship (BSB).


The standout feature of Bennetts policies is that no admin fees are charged for making modifications to your bike. There are also 17 categories of modification which do not require disclosure.  

Perhaps more notable is that both modern and classic bikes can be insured under the same multi-bike policy.

Ostensibly there are not as many standard nor optional features offered as some companies on this list. However, the most desirable features are. Salvage Retention and Agreed Value along with Show and Events cover which are offered as optional.   

Customers taking out a policy will also get a membership to the BikeSocial rewards platform which includes several free events, competition entries, special offers as well as discounts to attend BSB races.

  • Type of Bikes Covered: Classic, Vintage and Modern-Classics
  • Minimum Motorcycle Age: At least 15 years old for Classic bikes
  • Agreed Value Policies? Yes, optional
  • Customer Service Rating: 4.0 [Trustpilot]

Classic Bike Insurance through Comparison Websites 

Classic Moto Guzzi Transverse V engine
Moto Guzzi Transverse V – Image: Aleks Marinkovic

The influence of comparison sites in online purchasing is undeniable. Their ability to aggregate numerous service providers and products under one metaphorical roof can save you time and money.

When considering motorcycle insurance comparison sites there’s only one name, and that’s Vast Visibility. Who? It’s probable that you’ve never heard of the company.

You will, however, have unknowingly used its service before. That’s if you’ve ever sought motorcycle insurance quotes from a comparison website.

It’s Vast Visbilty’s comparison engine that powers the motorcycle sections of the largest comparison sites in the UK.

Its front-facing arm is The Bike Insurer which compares quotes from a panel of more than 40 motorcycle insurance firms.

If spending a morning or afternoon completing multiple quote forms fills you with dread then comparison sites are your saviour.

Summary

Old Harley-Davidson Handlebars – Image: Maksym Kaharlytskyi

When arranging insurance for vintage and classic bikes, there are several extra considerations.

Cover may be cheaper than standard insurance. But if you want coverage that’s fine-tuned to your specific needs, you should expect an increase in the premium.

Equally, you may need to jump through additional hoops by providing extra documentation.

Whether you choose one of the motorcycle insurance companies listed in this guide or not, hopefully, you found one more of the aspects covered here useful.
Good luck!

FAQs – Classic Bike Insurance

Paulo Freitas - Classic Honda Goldwing
Vintage Honda Goldwing GL1000 – Image: Paulo Frietas

If you’re considering purchasing or have purchased your dream bike from yesteryear, protecting your investment may also be on your mind. Here, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions about classic motorcycle insurance.

Can classic motorcycles be insured?


Yes, classic motorcycles can indeed be insured. As you will have seen from the list above, there are several well-established specialist and generalist motorbike insurance firms that offer cover for older motorcycles.

There are however many more firms in the marketplace. Yet, you should always stick with FCA-regulated brokers and insurers.

What is classic motorcycle insurance; how does it differ from standard bike cover?

Classic motorbike insurance is a specialist insurance policy offered by motorbike insurers and covers older motorcycles.

It’s offered as Comprehensive, Third-Party, Fire & Theft and Third-Party Only cover, with special dispensation for how these motorcycles are used.

Classic motorcycle insurance differs from standard motorcycle insurance in the sense that a motorcycle has to be over a certain age to qualify for it. Insurers and underwriters have schemes with unique benefits and refined cover specifically for vintage, classic and future-classic bikes.

Laid-up, Agreed Value, Salvage Retention and Static Display cover are some of the special insurance products developed for machines that meet the criteria.

How old does a bike have to be for classic motorcycle insurance?


Insurers define at what age a motorcycle qualifies for classic bike insurance differently. Each has its own minimum bike age requirement, ranging from 15 to 30.

Most insurers require that your motorcycle be at least 15 years old. While other insurers will only consider motorcycles older than 20 years. However, that figure can sometimes be as high as 30 or 40 years. It’s at that point where most insurers classify bikes as vintage.

The age a motorbike has to be to qualify for classic motorbike cover varies for each insurance provider.

Is classic motorcycle insurance cheaper?

Typically classic motorcycle insurance is cheaper than standard motorcycle insurance. For a good reason.

Underwriters, favourably take into consideration the unique manner in which owners use these machines.

For example, classic motorcycles tend to be ridden less often. Furthermore, they’re ridden by careful owners, usually in better weather conditions.

And insurers reassuringly think of owners as more conscientious about their motorcycle’s security arrangements because of their intrinsic monetary and sentimental value.
All of that results in premium low annual premiums. Naturally, adding additional benefits of tailoring cover to more closely fit your needs can push up the premium towards a standard, motorcycle insurance premium.

What is Future Classic insurance?

Future Classic insurance covers motorcycles not yet old enough to be considered classic or vintage. It’s usually available for motorbikes which experts widely view will eventually increase in value or become collectable. (Usually intrinsically linked.)

Within all decades since the inception of the motorcycle, there are always a few models that capture riders’ imaginations more than others. They’re not necessarily the most expensive bikes, nor even the fastest. But for one reason or another (usually design, sheer power and scarcity) they develop iconic status.

If you own such a bike then this type of cover might be more suitable than standard bike insurance. The cover offered is similar to classic bike insurance and may come with similar expectations of use.

Which factors influence classic motorcycle insurance costs?

Generally, the same factors that affect standard motorcycle insurance affect classic motorbike insurance. The level of cover required combined with your personal details dictates the premium.

These are the main factors (amongst others) that influence the cost of your premium:
• Type and model of your bike
• Age
• How the Bike is Used
• Voluntary Excess
• Years of Riding Experience,
• Occupation
• Location (Where the Bike is Stored)
• Annual Mileage
• Driving Licence Points and Convictions
• Number Years of No Claims Bonus

Insurers nevertheless tend to view riders of vintage/classic bikes more favourably. Riders of such machines are thought of as careful owners, who ride in good weather.

Adding special cover such as Agreed Value, Salvage Retention and Static Display cover will likely influence the cost.

What do you need for classic motorcycle insurance?


• Details of your bike
• Your anticipated annual mileage
• Details of any motoring convictions or accidents
• Your address details for the last 5 years
• Details of any claims in the last 3 to 5 years
• Your occupation
• Your current No Claims Discount
• Owners Club Membership details (if applicable)
• Independent valuation documents for Agreed Value Cover