Insuring trikes and three-wheelers

Find out about insuring and riding motorised tricycles, including information on judging whether your three-wheeler is a car or a motorbike, licence laws, MOT and tax details.

Alice Morgan
Alice Morgan
Updated 13 November 2019  | 4 min read

What are trikes and what types of three-wheelers are there?

A trike is a three-wheeled vehicle. There are two types of trike:

  • Delta - two wheels at the back and one at the front
  • Tadpole - one wheel at the back and two at the front

Three-wheeler will either be car-derived or bike-derived.

Is my three-wheeler a car or a motorbike?

A car-derived three-wheeler will have a steering wheel and manual gearshift transmission.

Good examples are the Morgan Three-Wheeler, the Grinnall Scorpion or the Reliant Robin.

A bike-derived three-wheeler will be handlebar-operated and look more like a motorbike.

They’re often extensions of existing motorbike models like the Harley Davidson Sportster, using the rear chassis of a car such as the VW Beetle.

Whether it’s bike or car derived, your three-wheeler is technically called a ‘motorised tricycle’.

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How to get insurance for trikes

You’ll probably need specialist insurance for a trike, but you might be able to get cover with a motorbike insurance policy from some providers, particularly if you have a standard production model from a recognised manufacturer.

To get insurance for your trike, here are a few things insurers will need to know:

  • Vehicle details - make and model, the vehicle’s value, its engine size and whether it’s a delta or tadpole construction
  • Your information and riding history - Your name, address, licence type and how long you’ve had it
  • Custom build? - If so, you’ll also need to send off photos or receipts so your insurer can understand exactly what cover you need
  • Cover extras - You can get cover for accident and breakdown recovery, European cover, legal expenses and more

Who can drive a three-wheeler?

It depends on what driving or riding tests you’ve passed and when.

If you passed your car driving test before January 2013 you're allowed to ride any trike on your car licence.

If you passed your car test after that, or you don’t have a car driving licence, you’ll be able to drive a motor tricycle of any power rating as long as you’re over 21 and have a full motorcycle licence.

If that’s not the case for you, you’ll either need:

  • An A1 motorbike licence to ride a trike up to 15 Kilowatts (kW)
  • A full category A motorbike licence to ride trikes more than 15kW

You’ll also need to pass your CBT before taking a theory and practical test.

If you’re over 21 and got your full car driving licence before January 2013, you can drive a motor tricycle of any power rating

Helmets and seatbelts

By law, you don’t need to wear a helmet when you ride a tricycle, but it’s recommended you wear one if you’re riding a bike-derived trike where there is less chassis to protect you.

Think about the rest of your clothing too - the same sort of protective gear that motorcyclists wear is a good idea - you can cover them under your motorbike insurance if you take out helmet and leathers cover.

According to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, you’ll need to have seat belt anchorage points fitted if you have a three-wheeled motorcycle which exceeds 255kg and was first used on or after 1 September 1970.


MOT and tax laws

If you have a new three-wheeled vehicle, it‘ll need an MOT after three years, then every year after that.

If its unladen weight is under 450kg, it’ll be examined under MOT Class 3 and you'll pay the motorbike fee.

However, if its unladen weight is more than 450kg, it’ll be examined under MOT Class 4 - the same class as cars - so the car fee will apply.

Your tax is based on the weight and power of your vehicle, the same as for other vehicles.

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