Sidecars and bike insurance

Find out the practical and legal considerations to take into account when arranging sidecar insurance for your motorbike.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 2 September 2019  | 4 min read

While sidecars have become quite rare, there’s still a community of enthusiasts who even compete in sidecar classes in various motorsport events.

But how do you get motorcycle insurance with a sidecar?

Key points

  • Sidecars can be insured as an accessory, or included in the entire vehicle value of your motorbike
  • You'll need to disclose the make, model and value of your sidecar to your insurer
  • There are specialist insurers that can cover kit and self-build sidecars

Motorcycle and sidecar insurance

Insuring a manufacturer-made sidecar is often quite straightforward - the sidecar is classed as an accessory to the motorcycle that it's attached to.

Not all insurers will be able to cover a sidecar, but for those that do your motorbike insurance policy won’t differ much from a standard one.

You’ll just need to disclose the make, model and value of your sidecar to your insurer before your cover starts.

Disclosing sidecar value

Check whether you need to tell your insurer the value of your sidecar separately - as an accessory - or include the value of it as part of the entire vehicle value.

Self-built or kit sidecars

For self-built or kit sidecars that are attached to a motorcycle that’s already registered (using regular clamps or bolt-on brackets), you’ll need to tell your insurer about it. It’s also likely to cost a bit more for your MOT too. 

If you’ve modified the motorbike frame to fit the sidecar – meaning the bike and sidecar become an ‘outfit’ – then you’ll need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) as well as your insurer. The DVLA will then decide whether the extent of the modification requires the outfit to be re-registered. In that case, it’ll issue a new Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and you’ll need to get a Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) for the outfit. Once your motorbike-sidecar outfit is approved, you'll need to get it insured so you can drive it on the road.

As with all self-build and kit constructions, fewer insurers will offer you cover, but there are motorcycle insurers who specialise in covering these, as long as they’re road legal.

Sidecars and modifications

Modifications that are common when adding a sidecar to a motorbike include:

  • Adjustments to the gears to create extra power to tow the sidecar
  • Leading link forks to enhance the steering
  • Car wheel conversions to allow for higher mileage and larger capacity

While these changes are designed to make the ride safer, they are considered non-standard modifications by insurers and the DVLA.

This means you need to disclose changes like these to both your insurance company and the DVLA.

Motorcycle and sidecar law

To ride a motorbike with a sidecar you need a motorcycle licence.

Riders with restricted licences (anything but a full A licence classification) must make themselves aware of power-to-weight ratios and, unless your motorcycle was registered before September 1981, the sidecar must be fitted on the left side of the bike.

Once you’ve fitted the sidecar, the outfit has to undergo a new MOT, even if the motorbike has recently passed one - evidence of the MOT certificate will likely be required when arranging your insurance.

Did you know...?

Many European countries have a law that requires sidecar passengers to wear helmets, but the UK doesn’t. Regardless, it’s a good idea to wear one anyway.

Responsible riding

If you’re new to riding a motorcycle sidecar outfit, get advice or training from experienced riders before committing to owning one.

Passengers should be instructed to stay in the sidecar at all times and not act irresponsibly as it could affect your riding.

As with carrying pillion passengers, a sidecar passenger is the responsibility of the rider.

While your sidecar passenger doesn’t legally have to wear a helmet in the UK, it’s advisable to wear one.

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