However, off road riding brings with it additional hazards and whilst we all do what we can to avoid parting company with our bike, accidents happen and like the pot holes you will undoubtedly encounter, the need for insurance can not be avoided.
Touring in Europe is one thing but if you are riding in the Sahara or climbing to 5000m on your Enfield in Nepal, a fall can result in a complex emergency situation requiring emergency medical attention and repatriation from a remote location. Hopefully your guide will have a proper emergency plan in place to get you out of there but someone will still have to pay the bills and this is where your insurance company comes in.
But, and this is a big ‘but’, insuring motor cycling is not a standard holiday activity and most travel insurance policies will have restrictions on who, what and where they will cover when it comes to motor bike accidents.
For a start, your low cost supermarket policy or freebie given to you with your bank account will almost certainly restrict the size of bike you can ride to 125cc. Even if your policy covers motor cycle touring (normally requiring that you have a valid UK license for the size of bike you hire), it will probably regard riding off road or at altitude as being ‘hazardous’ and is therefore excluded from cover. Even if motor cycling is not directly mentioned, you should ask your insurance company for clarification as more likely than not, they would not want to insure an off road adventure under standard terms.
Specialist activity holiday policies should provide more assurance providing you have declared your activity and the company has agreed that your riding and location falls within their policy cover. However, do not make assumptions as you have a duty to observe the requirement to disclose fully your activities. Many policies will insist that you wear a helmet but even if they don’t you will be expected to behave as you would within the UK which means high safety standards should be maintained, including avoiding alcohol and drugs.
A key point to note when hiring a bike is that personal travel insurance will not insure you for third party motor liability. You may find your own motor cycle insurance provides cover for riding hired bikes but you should check that this would extend overseas, as different laws apply in other countries governing motor liability. If you are hiring your bike from a properly regulated and insured business, they should provide liability insurance within the cost of hiring the bike but it is down to you to check and ask the question.
You also need to know that the bikes have been properly maintained and that if you have an accident because of the owners negligence, that they are insured to compensate you. Your travel insurance will cover your direct medical costs but it will not insure either your death or permanent disablement. If you are prevented from working again, you will need to sue for compensation and if the hire company was in any way negligent for your injuries they will need their own liability insurance. It is a legal requirement for operators within the EC to be insured but this does not extend to other parts of the world, including North America.
So, whether you are taking your own bike overseas or booking onto one of the many off road adventures that hire bikes, check your insurance, ask questions, and don’t take anything for granted!