Motorcycle insurance: which add-ons do you need?

When it comes to motorcycle insurance, there are many options and add-ons to choose from. But which are really worth it? Source: iStock / Jag_cz

When you take out motorbike insurance, you can be faced with a whole host of cover options to choose from. If you're not familiar with them all, it's easy to get overwhelmed. We explain which cover is recommended and when.

On the whole, motorcycle insurance functions in the same way as car insurance. Apart from liability insurance, which is compulsory, there are various cover options and add-ons to choose from. These include the two main pillars of partial casco and full casco, as well as accident insurance and breakdown cover, plus various add-ons within these options. These components are also fairly similar to car insurance in terms of scope of cover and insurance benefits. However, there are two motorbike-specific options – waiver of suspension and helmet and leathers cover. But which type of protection do bikers really need?

Partial and full casco – a must for new vehicles 

If you want to register a vehicle, you first need liability insurance. This is a legal requirement and covers any damage you might cause to third parties with your motorbike. You can also take out partial or full casco insurance to protect yourself in the event of damage to your own bike. While partial casco insurance covers damage not caused by the rider, i.e. due to theft, natural hazards, (hail, rockfall, floods, etc.), fire, vandalism (excluding scratches and dents), collisions with animals, and marten damage, full casco covers collision damage caused by the rider in addition.

Recommended for new motorcycles

Since the insurance benefits depend on the age and condition of the vehicle, the two types of casco cover are strongly recommended for newer motorbikes: partial casco for vehicles up to seven years and full casco for vehicles up to four years from first registration. Whether you need to continue with these insurance types after that depends mainly on your personal budget considerations. Note also that full casco insurance is compulsory for leased vehicles.

Within these casco components, there are usually some optional extras available:

Personal effects

  • Insurance for personal effects carried by the rider and passenger against theft and damage in connection with an event covered by casco insurance.
  • Items such as cash, credit cards, securities and jewellery are always excluded.
  • Electronic devices, motorcycle clothing and professional tools are often not included in the cover.

To sum up: Since any personal effects you take with you are often already covered by your home contents insurance, this option is not absolutely necessary. If you already have a casco add-on with your contents insurance, then this option is definitely superfluous.

Motorcycle clothing

  • Insurance for accidental damage to helmet and leathers.
  • Theft cover is also included if the items in question were kept in a locked container or secured using a helmet lock.
  • Sometimes already covered under the “personal effects” option.

To sum up: If you already have a casco add-on with your contents insurance, you do not need this option.

Damage while parked

  • Covers scratches and dents caused by unknown third parties to a parked motorcycle.
  • Sometimes also covers graffiti and spraying damage caused by unknown third parties.

To sum up: If you have a new motorcycle and often park it in public parking spaces, you should definitely consider this cover.

Also recommended: bonus protection and gross negligence cover

Bonus protection 

This cover protects you from moving up a bonus level in the premium level system used in liability and casco insurance, after you make the first claim of the year. This prevents your insurance premium from going up the following year. This is cover you can't do without, because bonus protection is very cheap – especially when compared with an increase in premiums.

Gross negligence cover

Gross negligence cover is also advisable. It protects you in the event of a grossly negligent violation of traffic rules, such as failing to stop at a stop sign or exceeding the speed limit, in that the insurance company waives the reduction of benefits (right of recovery). Since the extra cost is usually minimal and a grossly negligent violation of traffic rules can happen to even careful drivers, this cover is recommended.

Accident insurance, breakdown cover and waiver of suspension – consider carefully

Accident insurance 

Accident insurance offers additional protection by insuring riders and/or passengers against the financial consequences of an accident. It is particularly worth taking out if you are riding with a passenger from abroad with inadequate accident cover. However, if rider and passenger are resident in Switzerland, this option is usually unnecessary, as they are usually sufficiently covered for accidents by their employer (if they work over eight hours a week) or by their health insurance. To avoid insuring yourself twice over, you should check carefully the cover offered by the insurer for your specific case and compare with any existing accident cover.

Breakdown cover / roadside assistance

This type of insurance provides support in an emergency. Cover varies between insurers, ranging from breakdown services and vehicle repatriation to accommodation and return journey for the vehicle users. If you are a member of Touring Club Schweiz (TCS) or are already covered under a travel policy, you can safely do without this cover. Otherwise, it's worth examining this option more closely (cost of breakdown service, budget considerations etc.). Don't forget that some insurers automatically include this cover in their partial casco insurance.

Waiver of suspension

Some insurance companies also offer what is known as a “waiver of suspension”. Motorcyclists choosing this cover avoid having to deposit their number plates during the winter months. Although insurance premiums still have to be paid for the full year, the policyholder can enjoy a premium discount of 25 to 30 per cent. Whether a waiver of suspension is a worthwhile investment must be considered on an individual basis. However, if you do not ride your motorbike for six months, it's probably worth depositing the number plates. 

Tip: The rates and specific cover offered by these add-ons can vary quite considerably depending on the insurer and the policy. It is therefore always worth getting a few quotes and comparing them carefully.