Thursday, October 31, 2013


My dad once told me many years ago 'people who make money with money can't be trusted'. What he meant was people who make money without actually making anything; like bankers, investors, brokers, agents etc. He's right of course. Insurance is one of those businesses I deeply distrust. There is so much incomprehensible small print that it seems they can always get out of a claim. Another thing I learned early on is that the value you are paying your insurance for is not necessarily what you are getting paid in case of a claim. For instance you might pay a premium based on a value of, say, 20.000 dollars; when three years later your bike gets written off they will only pay you the market value, which might not even be half of what you are paying premium for. To make it worse, this is just one of the many, many, many, 'tricks' they pull on you. As a result I insure the bare minimum. Always have, always will. The bare minimum in my case means third party only. 

So, what can I say about insurance? Well, it's a necessity to have your motorcycle insured in most countries in the world. When you ride in the same country you live in there is quite a choice, although I wonder why with all that choice and so called competition the premiums are so damn close… If you want to go abroad the choice becomes a lot less and funnily enough premiums go up even higher, even when riding in countries where repairs and hospital bills are lower than where you live. Insurance companies will claim that you are more likely to get involved in an accident when abroad, yet they won't charge you any extra when you want to visit a capital city in your own country.
We lived in Australia when we were planning the trip and I contacted the people I had my bike insured with for years, Swan Insurance, told them what we were about to do and all they replied was 'we won't insure this'. Many thanks for paying your premium for years and not making a single claim; now piss off!' QBE was next on my list as they have the insurance that 'goes were you go'. It was only going as far as the border… despite them having offices all over the world they couldn't offer me an insurance. I was told to contact one of their offices in the country I was going to. When I contacted them they didn't want to insure me either as I wasn't living there… What a bunch of halfwits!
I contacted several insurance specialists who claim to offer worldwide coverage but hey either didn't respond or came with premiums that were beyond a joke. One even dared to quote 2400 dollars per bike(!) and didn't want to insure my son as he was only 17.
Most of the replies I received were so vague that I dumped them straight into the virtual bin.

Motorcycle express 
Motorcycle express was an exception. They offer coverage for the USA and Canada for up to 6 months. No idea why the 6 months limit as you can get a visa that is valid for more than 6 months for both the US and Canada, but in our case if fitted the bill. The premiums are very reasonable and they are pleasant to work with (meaning they actually read your e-mail and even reply to it, which is unfortunately unusual these days). We insured our bikes with them for the US and Canada part of our trip. They also insured us for Mexico, are looking into Central America and South America for us now and later-on we'll contact them for the European part.

Shipping insurance
Just for the heck of it; ask a shipping agent what they are liable for in case something goes wrong with the shipment. From memory I think it's 1.5% of the value… Now ask them for insurance and the full policy wording; you won't believe how much you pay for virtually nothing. There are so many exclusions and limits to their liability that I decided to ship without insurance! I'm sure most will say I'm insane but in our case the premiums presented were higher than the actual shipping costs and when reading the small print I wondered what was insured, if anything. One even excluded natural disasters. Imagine your bike at sea and one hell of a cyclone sends the vessel to the bottom of the ocean… 'sorry mate, natural disaster…' What else can cause a vessel to sink but a natural disaster? Pirates? Possibly but that would fall under 'armed conflict', which is another exclusion. 
Another problem is for you to prove where it went wrong. You hand in the bike at the shipping agent in perfect condition, pick it up at the other side extensively damaged. You think it's simple, but it's not. The question is; where did it happen? All the people involved will say it was in perfect condition when it left their premises, apart from the last one who will claim that's how it arrived here. If you can't prove where it happened the insurance won't cover it. It could for instance have happened when one of the transporters was moving it, or a container with the bike in it, from one harbour to another, or from one warehouse to another. It thus could have happened while it was not actually in the harbour… You will have to prove that it did. 

We decided to pass on the insurance and spend the money on very good crates. We made photos of the crating process and the crates being loaded into the truck. The crates were moved from there straight to the people that filled the container. When the container arrived in Vancouver the Customs seals where still on the doors, as they opened we saw a gaping big hole in one of the crates where a forklift had rammed it. It's perfectly clear what happened and where, yet the shipping company claimed they have photos of the crates in the container at the other end which shows they were undamaged. The insurance wouldn't have covered us. The crates were beyond repair, but did their job as the bikes were undamaged. I don't want to think about the results of simple crates or even motorcycle manufacturer ones… At least one of the bikes would have been a write off. The people who made the crates focus in Auckland, Pope Packaging, know how to make crates, it's their business and they saved our bikes! Thanks Jono Pope!