When you take out a motorcycle insurance policy, every bike insurer will ask if your motorbike or scooter is garaged. But not all brokers have the same classification of a garage, so understanding your policy is vitally important…
What do insurers class as ‘garaged’?
When you take out bike insurance, you’re typically dealing with a broker which will work with a panel of underwriters (the insurers), to find the one that offers the best cover for your needs.
To the customer, that’s usually a fairly transparent process, but it’s why policy prices can change – each underwriter is constantly assessing what it considers to be a ‘risk’ based on its latest data; while one underwriter might come to love covering riders with a custom motorcycle as part of a multibike policy, another might suddenly decide it’s too risky for them.
Quick tip: If your renewal price is higher than expected, it can be due to an underwriter’s changes, so it’s worth checking all of your details to make sure they are fully up to date and if they aren’t, get in touch with your broker to update them and allow them to check against the entire panel for the best price.
As for garaging, most underwriters have traditionally considered this term – which can sometimes attract a discount, or for some underwriters covering some parts of the country, mean the difference between offering cover and not – as being of brick construction with a roof, locked door and concrete base.
But that leaves out shipping containers, which are arguably the most secure way to store a bike (if the least attractive), wooden sheds, and even – in some cases – metal sheds.
However, some motorcycle insurance companies understand that if its customers are willing to secure their bikes as best as possible, a brick-built garage isn’t the only way to store it. For that reason, they have made changes so that the following can be classed as ‘garaged’, as long as they’re locked:
This makes sense, as a basic garage door can be very easy to break into if no extra security is used, so a reasonable quality wooden shed can offer equivalent (or greater) protection. There are a few things you need to know though:
If you simply can’t get any form of garaging on your property, don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you can’t be insured, but these new classifications make it easier for far more people to see their security recognised when buying insurance.
Remember, while a light-weight shed could be classed as garaged, it’s well worth investing in something that will last longer and be more of a deterrent to would-be thieves.
How can I make my garage or shed as secure as possible?
With a brick-built garage, the weak point is the door – some will have three-point locking, but they generally have very weak locks. Thinner metal doors can also be readily peeled up from the corners, so consider adding extra bolts, which are very subtle and don’t scream ‘I’ve got something to hide in here’.
If you’ve bought a quality metal motorcycle shed (like the Asgard), it will likely have its own decent locks built in, so all you need to think about is where to put it. Any ‘garage’ should ideally not be in such a position that passers-by can easily see what’s inside, but the approach to it is best being overlooked by your house and neighbours.
Cheaper metal garden sheds must be locked firmly, and they also need to have their own floor that’s secured to the walls, or be fixed down to the ground.
The same goes for wooden sheds – while the underwriters insist it sits on a concrete base to be considered a ‘garage’, that could be concrete paving slabs. But a thief must not be able to lift the shed, so it either needs its own floor fixed solidly to the walls, or it needs to be firmly bolted down to a concrete base.
Make sure the door is well locked and also ensure that the hinges are solid and well fixed; screws can be quickly removed or prized out, so use coach bolts.
If your shed has windows, don’t let people see what’s inside – venetian blinds are a good choice. Also consider fixing some bars to the inside, but the best place for a shed is tucked away in your garden behind a locked gate.
Once your storage space is ready, fit a ground anchor and use the best chain and lock you can afford.
Am I covered if my bike is stolen from outside my house?
Some garaging clauses can be a thorny subject for many riders. While it’s true that if you’ve declared your bike as garaged when at home and it gets stolen from outside of (or very close to) your own house, some underwriters might reduce or deny a theft claim, it’s not quite as black and white as it sounds.
If, for example, your bike was taken from outside while you were within reach of it (maybe washing it), shouting at the thieves to leave it alone, the claim would almost certainly be upheld. If an underwriter didn’t want to pay out in a situation like this, it’s likely that the broker and / or the Insurance Ombudsman would get involved.
However, if your policy has a garaging clause that states the bike must be garaged at the home address and you left it outside while going in for a cuppa or the loo, it could potentially be a different story.
To be clear, this only applies when you’re at your home address, though the exact proximity might vary by underwriter. The point is, if you ride to your mate’s house, and your bike is stolen from there, the garaging clause won’t affect a claim. We would however strongly recommend you lock your bike with a decent quality disc lock or, better still, a chain and lock.
How much should I spend on security?
If you spend carefully, you don’t need to spend a lot. For instance, if you buy a heavy-duty chain that’s secured by a lock that doubles as a disc-lock when you’re out and about, you’ve got twice the value.
Buy the best you can afford as decent security kit should last a lifetime – it’s an investment.
If I’m insured for theft, why should I worry?
By law, every UK rider must at least have third-party insurance. That means you’re covered for damages should you ride into another vehicle for instance. But despite having this insurance, you probably try to avoid this scenario, right?
Consider theft the same way – while motorcycle and scooter crime is a real problem, even using a basic disc lock can make you three times less likely to suffer a theft. Using heavy-duty security can make your bike less likely to be stolen than a car!
The sad fact is that, should your bike be stolen, it’s very likely that your future insurance premiums will increase.
Insurance is there for when things go wrong, but simply taking a few extra steps – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – can significantly reduce the chances of you going through the hassle and heartache of losing your bike.
And now, with shipping containers, metal, and wooden sheds all classed by some insurers as garaging, it’s even easier to get the cover you need.