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Insurance issue - Modifications?

ernie

VOC Assistant Secretary
VOC Member
My insurers ask if my Vincent is modified. What counts as modification? Alton; QH or LED bulb; multi plate clutch; disk brakes; fancy tyres; electronic ignition?

Insurers can get very picky when it comes to a claim.

Has anyone any experience of dealing with this?
 

jim burgess

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Just insured my VFR with RH for the first time, added to my classic policy as a "favour". They aked about modifications and made it plain that what they were interested in was perfomance enhancing mods. You would also be wise to include mods that raise the value and therefor the risk i.e. trick paint jobs on custom machines. But, and here is the urban myth, it was being reported that some companies were throwing out claims due to very minor mods, stickers removed etc, just as a technicality to avoid a claim. So I tried to list all the mods on a fairly standard Black Shadow, the list is very long, so much for "standard". Then I set about doing the Norvin! Ha ha! One long mod form one end to the other. Let us all know how you get on and check the small print.
Jim Burgess
 

ClassicBiker

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Ernie,
Not sure this is applicable as I'm here in the states but my classic policy carrier is Hagerty, they also operate in the U.K.. My Shadow has some mods i.e. Alton, multi plate, Lucas Rita, QH headlamp and LED bulbs on the tail and brake along with modern tires. My MGB GT is also on the policy and it is modified with alloy head, fast street cam, supercharger, up rated suspension, and mini lite knock offs. I have three other bikes with similar mods as the Shadow also on this policy. Anyway when I first applied for the policy several years ago the lady I spoke with gave me a quote and asked me about any mods afterwards. I told her all of them and she only asked about the MG's suspension, wanting to know if ride height or attitude was altered. I told her it wasn't it was just replacing '70's technology with modern tech. The mods on the bikes I told her were in the interest of safety and reliability, which they are in my opinion. Anyway the quote didn't change and I've been with them for the better part of ten years now.
I also think it's in how you present the mods. The insurance companies are looking for indicators of what kind of risk you are. Better brakes to help me avoid collisions vs I can dive into the corners deeper and brake later, exit quicker and be the first one at the pub. The companies are in business to acquire money, and they do it quite well.
I hope this helps.
Steven
 

Chris Launders

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
My insurance company asked me to call them in October when my insurance was due, this Norton special (Norvin), what was the size and horsepower of the original engine and what is the horsepower of the new engine, and was it fitted professionaly?
To which I replied, 600cc, horsepower unknown, new engine 45 horsepower, reply, oh is that all, yes it's a 1952 engine not a modern one, oh,
And I fitted it myself about 10 years ago and as I had been building bikes myself for 35 years by then I didn't think I needed it done by a "professional"
It still went up!!
I'm with Aviva
1987 1340 Harley softail
1964 600 Norton Dommi
1958 1000 Norton (Norvin)
1953 1000 Rapide
1933 1100 Brough Superior 11.50
All for around £600
 

ClassicBiker

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
My insurance company asked me to call them in October when my insurance was due, this Norton special (Norvin), what was the size and horsepower of the original engine and what is the horsepower of the new engine, and was it fitted professionaly?
To which I replied, 600cc, horsepower unknown, new engine 45 horsepower, reply, oh is that all, yes it's a 1952 engine not a modern one, oh,
And I fitted it myself about 10 years ago and as I had been building bikes myself for 35 years by then I didn't think I needed it done by a "professional"
It still went up!!
I'm with Aviva
1987 1340 Harley softail
1964 600 Norton Dommi
1958 1000 Norton (Norvin)
1953 1000 Rapide
1933 1100 Brough Superior 11.50
All for around £600

Chrislaun
I did a rough exchange and you are only $87.00 higher (£600.00 = $996.00) than my premium for five vehicles. I take it you've got fire, theft, collision on your part(a.k.a. property damage), third party(a.k.a. stupidity on their part), and personal injury(hospitalization for everyone). So even internationally premiums are comparably priced. Leads me to believe they're fixing it right across the globe.
Steven
 

ClassicBiker

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
OH!!, how could you think that of an insurance company, or an oil company, or a car company, or a bank, in fact I can't believe any company would participate in price fixing (sorry my irony filter's not working)
Manufactured goods I can see because the economy of scale is worked out for a world wide market and slight adjustment made what a local market will tolerate. Fuel I can see also with discrepancy due to shipment cost and local taxes. Insurance on the other hand I would have thought would be based entirely on local "climate" i.e. risk factors, repair or replacement costs, medical costs, likely hood of theft or vandalism, legal requirements, etc.. I find it surprising that the actuaries arrived at the same level of risk and financial impact in two locations so far apart and what I believe to be significantly different. It really did surprise me.
Maybe the conspiracy theorists aren't completely out there in left field.
Steven
 

Colin

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
The following is with my professional hat on. An insurance contract is a contract of "utmost good faith" (uberrima fides) and goes far beyond an " ordinary" contract of "let the buyer beware" (caveat emptor). You MUST disclose any and every "material fact". A material fact is "any fact which would influence an Underwriter in deciding whether or not to accept a risk or not and if so at what rate" I would suggest that if an Insurer asks a specific question about any point then they consider that point to be "material" Failure to disclose a material fact (whether specifically requested or not) would entitle an Insurer to avoid the contract, though they might not do so. So, in short, disclose EVERYTHING. every modification, every change, every sticker on your panniers! That is the counsel of perfection, but really not very practical, I know. So get to speak to someone in your Insurers/Brokers who knows at least something about (classic) bikes and at least something about Insurance Law, and tell them everything, asking if they think it material. (When I was asked about modifications to my Egli Comet Special, my Insurer accepted my explanation that it was a one-off special, and nothing was standard). SOME Insurers MAY be looking to avoid claims, but what most really want to know is EXACTLY what they are insuring. Many people think that "fiddling" insurance is a legitimate pastime, so they have to be precise. Only you really know your bike/history/driving experience/attitude to insurance/etc. so tell EVERYTHING, and you can't go wrong. I have 10 bikes ALL of them modified some way or other so I have it all recorded in writing and just send it to a prospective insurer rather than wade through it verbally every year. Finally I completed my Chartered Insurance Fellowship more than 40 years ago, and although basic Insurance Law has not significantly changed, the public attitude to Insurers, and the attitude of Insurers to the public has changed. If the public are not completely "straight" with Insurers how can they expect Insurers to be anything but suspicious,It may be a long winded nuisance to tell an Insurer everything "material", but a legitimately avoided claim is a b----y sight more nuisance.
 

ClassicBiker

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Colin,
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying hide anything at all. As you say it is all good faith. I was just surprised that my insurance company cared more about my changes to the suspension compared to performance increases. I'm also surprised at the similarities in cost given the differences in geographic location and other factors.
Steven
 
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