If You Don't Ride in the Winter, Should You Get a SORN and Cancel Your Bike Insurance?

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Many motorcycle riders prefer not to ride in the cold, dark, wet months of winter in the UK. To save money on motorbike insurance while you're not riding, you may decide to take your bike "off the road" using a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) from Gov.uk. We'll explain the pros and cons of this strategy to help you decide if it's the best route for you to take.

Problems with Cancelling Bike Insurance in Winter

If you don't expect to ride during the winter months, you can get a SORN for your bike and cancel your bike insurance to save money but we don't recommend it. Here's why.

Cancellation Fees: Your insurance company will probably charge a fee or penalty if you cancel your motorcycle insurance in the winter months. These costs can more than outweigh any prorated amount you'll receive as a refund for the months you aren't covered. For example, if you cancel a motorcycle insurance policy costing £1,200 per year after eight months, you might be refunded £400. If you are charged a £100 cancellation fee, you would only receive £300 after cancelling the policy. An insurance policy is typically an annual contract, even if you opt to pay monthly—that means you're committed to the entire year of cover (and payments). By cancelling your policy before the annual term is up, you will need to pay a fee to be released from your payment obligations. In addition, you may not receive a refund on unused add ons like Breakdown cover or Helmets and Leathers, if you paid extra for them.

Interestingly, as you can read here, Devitt offer a refundable cancellation fee, so if you have to cancel for any reason, if you then return to them within 12 months they’ll refund your cancellation fee. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll get the same price for your motorcycle insurance when you return.

Risk of Theft or Damage: Cancelling your policy while your bike is off the road exposes you to risk. Even if a motorcycle is stored in a garage during the winter, there are still opportunities for it to be damaged (e.g., by fire) or stolen. If something happens to your bike while it's uninsured, you would have to pay to repair or replace it entirely on your own. However, if you keep a valid motorcycle insurance policy with Comprehensive or Third Party, Fire and Theft coverage, your insurer would reimburse you for valid claims for fire damage or theft during the winter months as well.

Missed Opportunities: Unexpected, unseasonably warm weather may inspire you to take your bike out for a spontaneous ride. But you can't take advantage of situations such as this if you've cancelled your bike insurance, as riding without insurance is illegal. By reducing your coverage (e.g., from Comprehensive to TPFT) or taking other steps to lower your premiums (e.g., increasing the excess), you can stay insured and legal while saving money—and perhaps most importantly you can take your bike out for a ride when a nice day presents itself.

How to Save Money on Motorbike Insurance When Your Bike is Off the Road

Instead of getting a SORN for your bike and cancelling your motorbike insurance in the winter altogether, there are some additional ways to save money on insurance premiums when you aren't riding your bike.

Raise Your Excess to Lower Your Motorbike Insurance Premium

One way to save money on bike insurance throughout the year is by choosing a motorcycle insurance plan with a higher excess. Insurance plans with a higher excess cost less to buy—but only choose this option if you're financially able to cover the cost of the excess (i.e., your contribution towards a claim) should you need to claim.

How much can you save with a higher excess on bike insurance? The amount you save on premiums by increasing the excess depends on the insurance carrier, the motorcycle make/model/age and the size of the excess, as you can see in the following table.

How Motorbike Insurance Prices Drop with a Higher Excess

Voluntary ExcessCompulsory ExcessComprehensive Premium
Zenith£0£350£692
Zenith£100£350£692
Zenith£200£350£656
Zenith£500£350£586
Zenith Marque£0£500£868
Zenith Marque£100£500£842
Zenith Marque£400£500£798
Zenith Marque£500£500£781
Aviva£0£150£2,489
Aviva£250£150£2,420
Aviva£500£150£2,363
Aviva£1,000£150£2,260

The excess is typically composed of two parts: compulsory and voluntary. While the compulsory excess for a plan is fixed, you can increase the total excess by adding a voluntary component to the excess.

A higher excess is a simple way to make motorcycle insurance rates more affordable for those who drive less frequently (e.g., not during winter) and are therefore less likely to be involved in a collision, without compromising your coverage. For motorcycle owners who don’t ride their bikes frequently, either due to weather or another reason, increasing the excess can be a great method to save on the cost of motorcycle insurance.

Choose a Lower Level of Cover (TPFT)

Another way to potentially reduce premiums is by choosing Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) cover instead of Comprehensive cover. With a TPFT policy, however, you aren't covered for any damage to you or your bike in the case of an accident. And the cost of Comprehensive cover may well come out cheaper than TPFT, surprisingly.

Laid Up Motorcycle Insurance

Finally, you may prefer to take out "Laid Up" cover, which covers you for fire and theft while you're bike is off road under a SORN. Laid up Bike Insurance doesn't provide the required cover to legally be on the road as you will not be covered for third party liability. Using this money-saving option does not give you the option to spontaneously take out your bike for a ride.

Short Term Bike Insurance

For those who only ride their bikes in summer months, another option is to insure your bike on a "short-term" policy instead of a year-long contract. A few companies offer this specialized cover, including BikeSure. With a short-term policy you're likely to pay more on a per-month basis than you would on a full year contract. One disadvantage is that with a short-term policy you won't be able to build up your no claims bonus, which can be useful for getting a discount in the future.

Cheap Motorcycle Insurance in Your Area

Quickly compare over 15 UK insurance providers.

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