Insuring an FF
Insuring an FF
I've discovered a problem that may threaten not only the future of FF development in England but also the use of FFs currently in use here. It's insurance.
You might expect insurance companies to welcome safer two wheelers especially as FFs have been around as production vehicles since the Quasar. There may not be huge numbers, add Ecomobiles, Monotracers, and Voyagers to the twenty Quasars, throw in the various one-offs and the number of FFs in England is probably still short of fifty vehicles.
But tiny numbers of 'special' vehicles are not unusual - it's one of our more notable vehicle industries, the TSB even has a 'Niche Vehicle' group to encourage such efforts, especially where they demonstrate 'Low-Carbon' qualities. So FFs, with their proven safety record, world-class efficiency and practicality, should be seen as a good prospect by anyone with an interest in risk.
But well-known motorcycle insurance specialists don't seem to see it that way.
The whole thing started two years ago when Footman James, 'classic' insurance specialists, decided they couldn't insure “Q” plated vehicles, like FJ and doubtless many other 'Classics' assembled using a used part. They insure several of the other Voyagers.
I moved to Bikesure, who added £65 to my premium and discovered after a year that FJ is a two-wheeler, not the three wheeler they'd assumed for some reason (Maybe the word “Reliant”?). Directed to this website for enlightement they promptly doubled my Footman James premium, restricted to third party only, for an annual total of 1,500 miles. I took that as them saying “please go away” and trotted off to Carole Nash, probably the best known specialist bike insurer, that has covered the Banana for many years.
Like Bikesure they were positive and encouraging on the phone and I spent on hour writing a specification for FJ and sending them a set of photographs. Weeks later I would still be waiting for a quote if I hadn't discovered that Footman James now cover “Q” plates again - although I had to struggle to get them to insure FJ. (is it a kit bike?) Now it's back with the other Voyagers on their Classic cover.
What's this about? Is it FJ ? Seems unlikely; 86,000 miles with no claims, it's a low-powered general purpose utility FF, decribed as 'horribly pedestrian compared to a sports bike” by a journalist (That's why it's called 'Fat Jogger'..).
Is it me? Full licence since 1961, never had a claim against me, clean licence - but I'll be seventy this year. Could it be covert. illegal, age discrimination? It's possible, although I've had no problem getting cover to drive a car and a Transit.
Is it FFs in general? Has the insurance business stopped considering actual risk and descended to a box-ticking excercise that can't include anything unusual, regardless of its quality?
I've asked exactly these questions of Bikesure and Carole Nash. It's not a small problem if insurance companies won't insure low-volume vehicles - that's a whole industrial sector under threat - unless someone is argueing that FFs are specifically high-risk. I'd like to join that argument! Peraves might have something to say too.
Neither of these companies have responded to these specific questions. So as it stands there may be a problem getting reasonable cover for a modern FF, although Footman James seem happy to cover the historic examples. That's a real issue for anyone contemplating designing, building or buying an FF and they'd be well advised to check they can get insurance before spending money.
I think it's reasonable, short of an explanation, to describe this situation as perverse and irrational - but that's just my opinion!
Further note. Both Bikesure and Carole Nash were given a copy of this piece and invited to comment. Neither have responded or acknowledged this invitation.