Gear up for cover - Motorcycle racing

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With about 1.2 million active motorcyle riders in the UK, advisers would do well to familiarise themselves with covering the proportion who race. Andrzej Serwadczak explains

The 2011 Isle of Man TT Race has once again passed at full speed.

As usual, questions were asked about the safety of the course and whether motorcycle racing should be allowed to continue on the island.

Since the first death in June 1911, more than 230 riders have died during the races.

At least 14 more accidents have taken the lives of racers on practice days and during parade rides around the tracks, affecting bystanders, officials and spectators.

Motor racing began on the Isle of Man in 1904 and was originally restricted to touring automobiles.

The Motor Car Act of 1903 placed a speed restriction of 20mph on cars in the UK. As a result, the Secretary of the Automobile Car Club of Britain & Ireland approached the authorities in the Isle of Man for permission to race cars on public roads.

During the 1905 Isle of Man car event, it was decided to run a separate trial for motorcycles for a team to represent Great Britain in the International Motor-Cycle Cup Races.

Since 1905, motorcycles have continued to race on the Isle of Man in the annual event known as the International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race  known to all as the Isle of Man TT.

Due to the regular fatal accidents that occur during this race, is it any wonder that underwriters get uneasy when faced with an applicant who races in this event?

Needless to say, additional premiums in the form of loadings apply, but cover is still available. 

Cover Rating

A competitor riding a motorcycle with an engine size 350cc or higher in races, which include the TT, will usually be rated by an additional £14 for every £1,000 of cover applied for.

However, this level of loading does not apply to all types of motorcycle sports.
As the TT is deemed as being an extremely dangerous course to race  seen as one of the greatest challenges a rider can face  its loading is by far the highest one given.

At the other extreme, moped and scooter racing has no loading for life cover.

While the list of motorcycle sports available is very extensive, from an underwriting perspective they can be broadly, but not exclusively, split into two sections.  

Firstly, circuit racing (which includes either track or public roads), and then other events including:

Drag racing – races are usually run on a knockout basis, over a straight 1/4 mile sprint qualifying for subsequent rounds

Enduro racing -  the rider pits his skills and the machine against the terrain over long distances, riding to a ­pre-determined speed schedule

■ Grass track racing these are speed events on grass rather than road or circuit

■ Hill climbs - this entails racing against the clock to be the fastest around a pre-arranged course

■ Ice racing – as the name implies, racing on ice

■ Motocross – courses are enclosed dirt tracks, including jumps and turns

■ Trials – these are not racing events. They are a test of balance and machine control over a variety of obstacles

■ Sand racing – usually undertaken on beaches

■ Speedway racing – competitors race 500cc single-geared machines with no brakes

■ Veteran/vintage events – designed for older bikers.

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