Insuring an FF 3

Following my previous comments about insuring an FF I've been corresponding with Jordan Maddix of Adrian Flux Insurance (Bikesure)

Thankfully, the problem isn't FFs, or my personal habits. It's the thorny subject of 'modification'. Once, if you didn't modify your English motorcycle it wouldn't work. Now it's more like the German model, where 'modifications' largely amount to fitting parts from an 'after-market' supplier. Harley's and their legion of after-market parts are an example.

Many FFs are modified motorcycles so people like Malcolm Newell (RIP) and me can be considered after-market suppliers. The attitude of individual insurers towards such vehicles can vary wildly - the Cmax insurers were uninterested in it's 'modified' status once they discovered that only the seat, footrests and bodywork had been changed. It's probable that the older an FF is, the more miles it's done, the less worried an insurer will be.

Supporting this theory are most of the Voyagers, insured on very competitive rates, as 'Classics' by Footman James - they qualify by being over 20 years old. But this insurer restricts the insured to driving other vehicles over 20 years old and clearly doesn't think 'classics' should be modified.

This leaves full-on, built from scratch, FFs and owners who want to modify existing, road-legal, FFs. It's not hopeless. Problems seem to mainly revolve around communication and I'd strongly recommend writing, rather than phoning, with any enquiry.

Bear in mind that FFs are represented by a tiny number of vehicles. Insurance underwriters, who make the decisions, will be aware of FFs, but are unlikely to be expert on the details. In addition there's that word 'modification'. There are many more people who want to do something unspeakable to a motorcycle than there are trying to further improve the comfort, handling, safety and efficiency of an FF.

So you'll need to explain everything. Begin with the purpose of the modification. “Converting a Tmax scooter to FF” is unlikely to cause much disturbance. detail the actual modification and refer to similar modification elsewhere. It'll probably help if you can demonstrate some qualification or previous experience. It's common sense, put yourself in the position of the underwriter - how would you react? Is it reasonable? Would you insure it?

The more off the wall your proposal is the more it's likely to disturb an underwriter and the better the explanation you'll need to provide. I got into difficulty on the phone, trying to describe features unknown to motorcycling. Once I'd related them to actual vehicles, explained, in writing, how they'd been done before, or were being proved off-road, the atmosphere changed considerably - although I expect I'll still have to pay more for FJ's insurance if it's modification program is implemented.

Bikeweb is a really useful resource here. There'll probably be a picture somewhere, some text, revealing the modification you have in mind. Being able to show that it's just vehicle engineering will be the way to get an insurance quote you can live with.

My impression is that Underwriters want to sell insurance, including non-standard insurance. You've just got to make it possible for them to assess the risk.