The truth about the best motorcycle locks and your insurance

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a Yamaha MT-10 and Honda Grom. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, a KTM 1050 Adventure, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 

 

The truth about the best motorcycle locks and your insurance

 

Motorcycle theft is in decline thanks to the work the police have been doing to break down many of the criminal gangs, not least in our major cities. Social media would have you believe there’s an angle-grinder-wielding scum-bag lurking around every corner, but YouTube videos and social media posts of people’s bikes exactly where they locked them up don’t get shares. If you want a viral video, you need to combine all the clips you can find of crime and give it a shocking title.

Those who want to see the years of work that have been going into putting many of the criminals away need to search a little harder; this video shows how the gang who threatened bystanders while trying to steal a Ducati Panigale in Soho got a total of 12 years.

But don’t get me wrong – motorcycle and scooter theft is still something you need to consider; you need to lock your bike up.

 

How to lock your motorcycle

Far too many motorcycles and scooters are left with just their steering locks on and no additional security; these locks are easily kicked off, so you really need to use something else.

Good: Use a decent disk lock. You can find a the best motorcycle disc locks in our reviews here.

Pros: Easy to carry.

Cons: Bike can still be lifted into a van.

 

Best: Use a quality chain and lock. You can find the best motorcycle lock for you here.

Pros: You can lock your bike to something, making it harder and more noisy to remove.

Cons: The lighter weight chains are quicker to cut through, but heavier chains are harder to carry.

 

Extras: Cover your bike – it really does add another layer that helps reduce theft.

Pros: Cheap and lightweight.

Cons: Can be a bit of a hassle to carry and put on.

For the more advice on how to chain your bike up, click here.

 

The truth about the best motorcycle locks and your insurance

 

Do I get an insurance discount for these locks?

When you buy insurance, your details are considered by a ‘panel’ of underwriters – these are the companies that will be assessing the risk of whether or not you’re likely to have an accident or have your bike stolen; the decision is based on previous claims, location, type of bike, your age etc…

Depending on where you live, some of those companies will insist you use a security product, while others might not be so worried. Some of them might give you a small discount, others might not. What you care about is the bottom-line price, and with competition so high for your business, a broker (the intermediary between you and the underwriters) will be looking for the best price they can find. If your policy’s cheaper with security, the chances are it’s because it made another underwriter available, given your details, or because the underwriter has the experience to know that a security device does lower the likelihood of something happening to your bike.

The truth is that discounts for security kit can be very small. Even more shocking is the fact that some underwriters don’t give any discount at all for some devices.

When you take out a motorcycle insurance policy online, you’ll see a list of security products that you can select. It’s important to be honest, but the problem comes when you (or the person at the end of the phone if you call in) can’t find the product you’ve just spent anywhere from £30 to £300 on. Annoying, isn’t it?

That list used to be managed by research institute Thatcham, but several years ago the company pulled out of ‘hard security’ testing, focusing on electronic devices like alarms and trackers.

Sold Secure is now responsible for testing chains, locks and other similar products; it has a very useful search function on its site that allows you to check which products on sale are currently approved by Sold Secure. Some might disappear for the following reasons:

  • The product is no longer manufactured 
  • The product doesn’t meet the latest test criteria, as influenced by current crime reports
  • The manufacturer hasn’t paid the yearly fee for retesting

With an up-to-date list so easily available, it should just be a matter of sharing that with the insurers and have them provide the appropriate level of discount that reflects their reduced exposure to something happening to the bike, but it’s still not that simple…

Bennetts has the most current version of the list online because we’re the ones in touch with Sold Secure, feeding the updates back to Polaris, the company that gives the list to the entire insurance industry. From there, the underwriters are made aware of it, and the brokers and price comparison sites are left to upload it onto their systems and make sure their list is up to date.

But have a look at many of them and you’ll see that much of the best security kit available – like the latest gear from Pragmasis and Squire – isn’t listed. It’s on the Sold Secure website because it’s been tested and approved (which means you can be sure of what you’re buying), but the fact is that, besides specialist brokers, there’s little appetite from the insurance industry to tidy up and maintain that list.

Why? The honest truth is that motorcycle insurance is a fraction of the business that the underwriting companies deal with; home insurance for instance is much bigger. While there are underwriting experts dedicated to motorcycles, the security device list has become bloated with out-of-date products, and maintaining it hasn’t been a priority.

 

The truth about the best motorcycle locks and your insurance

 

Why should I bother buying security if I don’t get a discount?

Using security can give you access to a wider range of underwriters, so can lead to greater choice when it comes to setting up your policy, but you should buy a lock for your bike because you don’t want it to be stolen; because you don’t want the hassle and heartache of losing your pride and joy.

Of course, to some people, their motorcycle or scooter is nothing more than a mode of transport (often a fraction of the cost of public transport) so, incredibly, they don’t really care if it’s pinched as they’ll just buy another. But that enables crime, giving gangs the tools to carry out muggings and violent robberies. It also puts the crime figures up, which – you guessed it – makes the underwriters more twitchy, so puts policy prices up for everyone.

And finally, you might not get a discount on your policy for using decent security kit, but if your bike is stolen, your next policy will be a LOT higher, or you might not even be able to get insurance at all.

 

Are trackers worthwhile?

I used to share the common perception that if my bike was stolen, I wouldn’t want it back, but I’ve grown to realise that every mile I put on my machine (not to mention every modification) makes it that little bit more ‘mine’. It’s means a lot to me, and it’s got memories associated with it.

You can find the best motorcycle trackers by clicking here; what makes a good one is the ability for the police to be able to locate the bike within the first hour or so of it being taken (and they DO respond very quickly to active trackers). There’s also a chance the criminals will be caught in the act.

And of course, the fact is that a recovered stolen motorcycle isn’t a total loss, so even if you didn’t want it back, the cost to the underwriter is less, potentially reducing the impact on future premiums.

Nothing will stop a determined thief with the time and the tools, but decent security kit WILL significantly reduce the chances of losing your bike. And it’ll last you a lifetime; regardless of whether it reduces your premium, that single outlay could mean many, many happy years of riding.

 

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