HomeTravel adviceThe perils of motorbike hire on holiday: Brits invalidate travel cover by ditching helmets

The perils of motorbike hire on holiday: Brits invalidate travel cover by ditching helmets

,

Written by:

Created:

Last Modified:

Our latest data reveals the top 10 destinations where British holidaymakers think it’s OK to hire a motorbike or moped and risk riding  without a helmet.

Thailand tops the danger list – with 30% of survey respondents saying it would be the norm to ride a hire bike or moped without wearing an approved helmet. Many people felt the same to be true for India (26%) and Jamaica (18%).

Top 10 countries where British holidaymakers think it would the norm to ride a hire bike or moped without wearing an approved helmet

Thailand30%
India26%
Jamaica18%
Brazil18%
Italy18%
Spain17%
Maldives13%
Ibiza13%
USA10%
Lanzarote9%

The new data suggests a significant proportion of British holidaymakers could be putting themselves at risk when going on holiday this year. Nationally, 21% of people said they were inclined to hire a moped to have some holiday fun  – and 16% favoured a motorbike road trip – even though survey respondents acknowledged these were not activities they would normally do at home in the UK. Compounding the significant safety risk of people doing things they are unfamiliar with on holiday, not wearing an approved helmet on a moped or motorbike will usually invalidate a travel insurance policy – leaving holidaymakers exposed to personally covering the cost of huge medical bills.

The belief by UK holidaymakers that it would be the norm not to wear a bike helmet on holiday in Thailand is of particular concern given the country has one of the highest death rates from road traffic deaths per capita in the world, with 74% of those involving motorbikes.[1]

Also of particular concern, older holiday makers were most inclined to hire a motorbike or moped as a special holiday experience, doing something they don’t usually do at home. The over 55s were most likely to think it was alright to go on a motorbike trip without an approved helmet in Thailand (35%), and for India it was the over 45s most likely to consider hiring a moped or motorbike without a helmet (31%).

Regionally, people in Scotland, the West Midlands and Yorkshire were most likely to believe it was the norm not to wear a helmet in Thailand, India or Jamaica (see table below).

When the nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults was asked why they wouldn’t wear a motorbike or moped helmet when hiring a motorbike or moped on holiday, 20% said it was OK not to wear one if they were visiting a country where helmet laws were not strict or enforced (20%) and 15% said they would fit in with what the locals did. A further 17% said they wouldn’t wear a helmet if the weather was hot and sticky and 20% wouldn’t feel the need for a helmet if they were only travelling a short distance.

Chris Rolland CEO at InsureandGo comments: “Everyone wants to have some care-free fun when abroad – and as a leading travel insurance provider we want to make it easy for them to go without the doubt – but safety is also of prime importance. Hiring motorbikes and mopeds on holiday can be risky, especially if biking is something people don’t do at home. Added to this, wearing a helmet is vital. In Thailand, helmets are mandatory but many people choose not to wear them and the law isn’t enforced. While there may be a temptation to do what the locals do, the simple truth is if holidaymakers hire a bike and don’t wear a helmet, they will invalidate their travel insurance. The last thing anyone needs on holiday is to be involved in a traffic accident, which is stressful enough, only to find there’s also huge medical bill to pay personally if their travel insurance cover is then invalidated.”

Countries where Brits think it is perfectly OK to hire a motorbike or moped and risk riding one without a helmet (by UK region).

 ThailandIndiaJamaica
Scotland38%30%28%
West Midlands34%29%16%
Yorkshire/The Humber34%31%20%
N East33%23%15%
London31%30%20%
Wales30%17%17%
South West29%21%14%
East28%27%11%
North West27%25%20%
South East27%25%21%
East Midlands24%27%11%
Northern Ireland24%19%3%

InsureandGo’s top tips before hiring a motorbike or moped on holiday

  • Make sure you have valid Travel Insurance and check any special conditions.
  • You MUST wear an approved helmet at all times.
  • You MUST have a valid ID. Check your Driver’s Licence; it will show if you are or aren’t allowed to ride a motor-cycle in the UK.  If you are not allowed to ride a motor-cycle in the UK, many travel insurance policies won’t cover you for hiring a motorbike/scooter/moped overseas.
  • Check the specific clause in your travel insurance policy that relates to holiday motor-bike hire. Many policies stipulate the maximum cc of the bike that you are allowed to hire.  If this is the case -do not exceed that limit.  Other policies will only allow you to hire motor-bikes in line with what you are allowed to ride in the UK.    
  • ID must be at least 3 years old and you should be minimum age of 21.
  • Only hire from an approved rental company.  Tourist Boards can often recommend what licences the rental company needs to be approved.  
  • Make sure your helmet fits. A properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries in an accident by up to 70%.
  • Rental companies will NOT cover theft, but will often cover roadside assistance WITH added insurance.
  • Inspect your motorbike or moped.  Look for signs of any damage before using it.
  • Stick to officially recognised roads as some travel insurance policies exclude off-road riding.
  • Use your phone or camera to take photos of accessories, possible scratches, bumps or previous dents on the bike.
  • You should test the motorbike before riding it.
  • Carry out short test drive. Check lights and brakes work correctly and that the condition and pressure of the tyres is good.
  • Do not get on your motorbike or moped under the influence of alcohol of drugs. Insurance providers will not cover your hospitalisation of repatriation expenses in the case of accident or injury from drink or drug driving.

The online research was conducted for InsureandGo by Sago research on 23 February 2024 among a representative sample for 2,233 adults.


[1] The Thai Health Promotion Foundation reports on average 70 people die each day in road accidents – and 74% of those are motorbike riders and passengers.  The highest death rate is proportionate to the size of Thailand’s population. At least 20,000 people die on Thailand’s roads every year according to the WHO [source Sky https://news.sky.com/story/killer-roads-why-thailand-has-one-of-the-worst-death-rates-from-driving-in-the-world-12051841]