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Travel Insurance For Motorbike Holidays

02 July, 2019 By Hayley Kennedy

Scooter, motorbike, moped, vespa – the choices are endless when choosing a two-wheeled ride for your overseas holiday.

Riding any sized motorcycle can be a thrilling way to travel. These chariots of the people offer the ultimate feeling of freedom, independence and affordability.  The compact nature makes parking a breeze, allows flexibility in how long you stay and you can zoom off with very little fuss. You're not tied to a schedule of rushing from A to B, squeezing onto uncomfortable public transport or stressing about the holes in your pocket from paying for expensive cabs. You can make your own path and go at your own pace...with the added bonus of looking pretty cool.

But Will My Travel Insurance Cover Me While Riding A Motorbike Overseas?

In short, it depends upon your licence and the engine capacity of your ride.  

Lucky for you, it's a road well travelled and one that we know well. We've done the miles to ensure that you're in the know when it comes to cover while exploring the world on two wheels. Whether you're planning to leisurely hire a scooter for a day here and there, or you're planning to saddle up on a fully kitted BMW GS for a ride on the wild side, there’s cover out there for you.

  • Some insurers do not require you to have a motorcycle license if riding a low capacity engine and will cover you for a bike 50cc - 125cc.
  • Others have maximum engine size limits which you’re only insured to ride - irrespective of what your license says (keep reading to find out who-covers-what when it comes to muscle power)
  • And some cover you for whatever engine size you ride as long as you're licenced to do so in Australia.

**Click on the plus icon to see more detail**


General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal circumstances.

Licensed To Thrill

If you're travelling to a foreign country make sure you get your International Drivers Permit (IDP) - preferably before you leave! This allows you to drive or ride the same class of vehicle you are permitted to ride in your home country. So, if you are NOT covered to ride a motorcycle or scooter in Australia, you are not permitted overseas. It's strange how we tend to throw caution to the wind when on holiday. With absolutely no training or experience riding a motorbike or scooter at home, many of us seem to think we'll master the skills on the spot in a foreign country.

You can apply for an IDP overseas, but make sure you're ticking the right boxes. You may be able to fool the traffic cop in Thailand that you have a motorcycle licence, by 'ticking-the-box' when you got your IDP, but it won't cut the mustard with your travel insurance company. If you DO have a valid motorcycle license, be thrilled! Your licence will be accepted in over 150 countries including Bali, Indonesia, Laos, and Thailand.

Venturing To Vietnam?

If you will be riding a motorcycle in Vietnam over 50cc, then you must obtain a temporary Vietnamese drivers license.

To convert an Australian driving license into a temporary Vietnamese driver's license, you must hold a valid Vietnamese residence permit of at least three month's validity. Visit the website of the Australian Embassy for full details on how to apply for a Vietnamese drivers license. 

Be aware that only IDPs under the 1968 Convention are accepted in Vietnam. The Australian Government signed the 1949 UN Convention so if you hold an Australian issued IDP, you must obtain a temporary Vietnamese drivers license. Learn more about Vietnam motorbike licenses here

What's Not Covered?

Even with the cover offered, exclusions still apply. You are not covered:

  • If you are racing and intentionally putting yourself at risk
    Any time you intentionally put yourself in danger such as using your bike for jumps, stunts and tricks and injure yourself (especially if you are not wearing a helmet at the time) you are unlikely to be covered.
  • For motorbike theft or damage
    Whether owned, borrowed or rented, most insurers do not cover the bike.  If it's your own bike, it should be covered under your own motorcycle insurance.  If it's a hire bike, the rental company is likely to have insurance built into your daily hire cost or charge you an additional premium to cover it. 
  • For competitive or professional riding
    Competitive riding of any sort is generally not covered under standard travel insurance policies.
  • For motorbike rental excess cover
    Whether you're renting a Vespa in Italy, a motorbike in Vietnam, or a scooter in Bali, you are unlikely to be covered for the rental vehicle excess.  Although travel insurance often covers rental vehicle excess, this generally does not extend to two-wheeled modes of transport. If you hire an expensive bike and it gets damaged, unfortunately, your travel insurance will not cover the excess.
  • If you do not follow the rules of the road
    Always follow road signs including traffic lights, stop signs and give ways.
  • If you are under the influence
    You would not be covered if you were drunk driving and had an accident while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If you do not wear a helmet
    No travel insurance company is likely to cover you if you incur injuries when you were not wearing a helmet.  This will usually form part of the terms & conditions outlined in their policy wording. Also, despite many locals not taking notice, it is the law for motorcyclists to wear a helmet while riding in certain countries such as Bali, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What Else?

Finally, contact your travel insurance provider before you purchase travel insurance for your motorbike holiday if you're uncertain about the policy details.  Some insurers will automatically provide cover for riding a motorbike, whereas others will require you to add it to your policy and pay an additional premium to be covered.  When riding motorbikes or scooters overseas you are taking risks with both your health and your money so it pays to take a few minutes to make that short phone call to clarify any concerns.  Don't just settle for the first or the cheapest policy you find, do your research and compare quotes and cover levels for your next holiday.

Perhaps all that muscle power is too much for you. Taking out cycling travel insurance for your pushbike shouldn't give you whiplash either. Ride easy with our cycling travel insurance essential guide.

Quad biking & recreational all-terrain vehicles (ATV) are popular activities or modes of transport for certain holiday destinations.  For example, quad biking over sand dunes in Australia, touring rice fields in Bali, getting around a large resort or even as road transport on an island in Greece. If you're planning on getting in the saddle of an all-terrain vehicle, be sure to check your policy before purchasing as many insurers exclude quad bikes.  A few insurers will provide cover if you pay an additional premium for an adventure pack add-on.

Motorbike Travel Insurance FAQs

Does travel insurance cover riding scooters and motorbikes overseas?

Yes, most travel insurance policies will cover you to ride a motorbike or be a pillion passenger. However, each insurer has different conditions about engine classes and licence requirements - so check the summary table above and your policy documents to make sure that your policy works for you and your circumstances. Some insurers require you to pay an additional premium for scooter cover and others automatically include it. Be sure to wear a helmet.

Can I ride a scooter or motorbike in Bali without an Australian motorbike licence?

Generally speaking, to be covered for riding a motorbike, most insurers will require you to have either an Australian motorbike licence, or a local motorbike licence - but check your insurer's policy documents, as some insurers require you to have both. If you only have a car licence, some insurers will cover you to ride scooters of 50cc or less.

Am I covered medically if I ride a motorcycle while overseas?

Many travel insurers automatically cover you to ride a motorcycle overseas, provided that you're wearing a helmet and have the correct licence and engine class according to their policy terms. Check out our table above to find motorcycle travel insurance that might work for you and your circumstances.

Will my travel insurance cover damage to my motorcycle overseas?

While most travel insurance policies will cover you while riding a motorcycle (provided that you meet their conditions), they generally don't cover any damage to a rental motorbike or a motorcycle that you own. So if that's something you're looking for cover for, check your policy terms before you buy.

I don't have a motorbike license - can I still ride a scooter or motorbike overseas?

Some travel insurers will allow you to ride a scooter of less than 50cc or so if you have an Australian car licence. Check the above table and your policy documents or call your insurer to ask about their scooter or motorbike coverage.

Am I covered for personal liability while riding a motorbike overseas?

Most travel insurance policies do not offer personal liability coverage while you're operating a vehicle.

Do I need to wear a helmet when riding a motorbike?

Yes, absolutely. Whether it's a cute Vespa or a classic Harley, virtually all travel insurance policies require you to be wearing a helmet to be covered. Just as it is in Australia, it is compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a motorbike in Cambodia, Thailand and Bali

Contributor Hayley Kennedy

Hayley Kennedy

Originally from the UK, Hayley took a gap ‘year’ in 2011… and it’s still going! She’s travelled all over the world, volunteering in a Ugandan orphanage, skydiving in Australia, shark diving in South Africa, and skiing in the Alps (and snapping in a ligament in the process!). Certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and working in travel insurance for over two years, Hayley is a thrillseeker and a storyteller who loves hearing about customers’ holiday plans and sharing her own tips and must-see spots to help get them inspired.

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