07 February 2019
Scooters, mopeds, vespas: there is something about the small motorised scooters which British people just find fun. Scooters are often seen as a bit of a novelty, or as small, less powerful motorbikes for teenagers. However, the fact remains that these efficient machines can let you beat the traffic and save on fuel costs while always finding a place to park. While they will not be the right choice for everyone’s situation, a great number of people could probably change to commuting by scooter and find their lives improved.
Scooters with 50cc engines are available for sixteen-year olds to ride, and people over the age of seventeen are allowed to drive scooters with 125cc engines – a notable jump in power, but obviously still less powerful than even a small car. A few things are needed to ride however, and one is insurance.
Before they are allowed to ride a scooter, prospective riders must pass a day of Compulsory Basic Training, and then a theory test and the practical test for scooters and motorcycles. There are two years from the completion of the CBT to complete the theory and practical sessions, after which the CBT must be retaken. It is then necessary to register the vehicle with the DVLA before taking it on the road. The other legal necessity before driving is that new drivers must have, at the very least, third party only road insurance.
Third party only insurance is the cheapest and least thorough form of vehicle insurance. It means that if you cause damage to other people or their property, for example another vehicle owner, they cannot charge you for the repairs to their vehicle. This will instead be paid for by your insurance company, although it is likely to affect your premiums. The system whereby it is illegal not to have this insurance has been in place for decades.
The result of this is that almost everyone who gets into an accident that was not their fault, unless the person who damaged their vehicle was illegally driving without insurance, will be able to have their repairs paid for quickly. This means that people can economically bounce back from the effects of damage to their vehicles quite quickly. However, to ensure that people do not drive without insurance there is a penalty of up to £1000 for doing so, in order to make certain before you approach the road that you are insured.
Insurance should be continuous and paid for in yearly contracts. It is better in these cases to buy your car insurance in one big yearly bundle, instead of paying a premium every month to pay smaller amounts, as the difference can add up quickly. In the event that you will be taking your scooter off the road for a long period of time and do not want to pay road tax and insurance on it, then you can get a form called a Statutory Off-Road Notice, or SORN. This will freeze the insurance on the unused vehicle until you are ready to use it again.
There are three levels of scooter insurance to choose from. The minimum is third party only, which would only cover you for the damage you dealt to another road user and their vehicle. Third party, fire and theft, the second kind, goes further in protecting you from claims and also insuring your vehicle against being stolen or destroyed in flames. The third and most thorough kind of scooter insurance is fully comprehensive cover, which insures against all of the above but also a range of other eventualities.
While it can seem a good bargain to just buy the mandatory third party only insurance, be aware that this would not cover you for any problems with your own vehicle which arose unexpectedly. With advances in modern engineering, scooters often run very smoothly with no problem for a very long time, but aim to be aware of possible problems ahead of time and ask yourself “would my insurance cover this problem?”
Sorting the best possible scooter insurance can seem daunting, especially to those coming to scooter ownership from not having previously owned a car. But, if you find the right insurance and keep your costs low by going through a broker and shopping around, you can find good affordable insurance which does everything you want it to.
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