Big boy’s toy? Big boy’s risk!

After the recent Labour Weekend, the road toll shows that two male motorcyclists died in two crashes. Specialist vehicle insurer Swann is giving motorcyclists a bit of a rev up.

You might be older, but are you really getting wiser?

Data from both Ministry of Transport and IAG’s Research Centre recently found that 41-45 year old men had the most claims for damage to their motorcycles last year. According to IAG New Zealand motorcycle claim data for the last three years, there was in fact a drop of 10% in claims from young people (19-25 years old) who are often thought to be more reckless and have more accidents than more ‘mature adults’. However, the total number of claims in the over 40s age group (41-45 years old) reaches to 20% from 2014 to 2015, compared with 13% three years ago.

Swann Claims Technical Specialist Chris Kiddey said the change could be a reflection of more riders in that category being on the road.

“A large number of motorbikes are ‘recreational’, at least to a degree, like a boat for example. And it can take a few years to be able to afford a big powerful one. Once you’ve put in the work the motorbike is sometimes seen as a bit of a reward or treat so what we might be seeing are riders returning to the road on two wheels after a period of driving cars.”

“If there are more riders of a certain age on the road, obviously that age group is going to be represented more highly in the accident statistics. The data may also suggest returning riders, or new riders starting later in life, are not taking to the road with the caution as they perhaps should.

“The motorbikes may be more powerful and agile than they remember – and the riders a little less so.”

How fatal and costly are motorcycle collisions?

“Speed”, “freedom” and “open road” are the words often cited by people who love motorcycles, but riding a motorcycle comes with risks.

According to the latest Motorcyclist Report from Ministry of Transport, 43 motorcyclists died and a further 1,165 were injured in road crashes last year. This was 15 percent of all deaths and 10 percent of all reported injuries on our roads, compared with motorcycles made up about 4% of the fleet on the road in 2014. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all motorcycle injury crashes occur on urban (speed limit of 70km/h or less) roads, but nearly three quarters (73 percent) of fatal crashes are on the open road.

Chris Kiddey said that with car accidents perhaps 10% of all claims end up in write-offs; with motorbikes the figure is nearly 50%.

“To a degree that’s obviously because the average motorbike costs less than a car, but it also represents the fact that if a bike gets in an accident, the damage is often major, and if the damage to the bike is major then we have to worry about the rider too.” Chris said.

The IAG Research Centre found that 26% motorcycle claims last year were caused by other parties, compared with 15% of claims that were caused by the rider themselves. As a result, 45% of motorcycle claims were total losses in the last three years. As shown in the graph below, if a person is at fault in a motorcycle collision, the average cost of the insurance claim in the last three years is likely to be around or over NZ$3000. Collisions with animals are rare, however, when a motorcyclist does have one the average cost is even higher than ‘regular’ collisions.

MC clms avg cost

Source: IAG Research Centre, 2015


Where do most motorcycle collisions happen in New Zealand?

Wellington has had the most number of motorcycle claims for the last three years, with the total number of claims being double the total number of motorcycle claims in Auckland Central.

“That could be a reflection of the roads – which are often windy and hilly – and the weather which is often the other sort of windy,” Chris said.

When do motorcycle collisions happen?

Over three years to the end of 2014 most motorcycle incidents occurred between 6am to midday, however, from 2014 to 2015, the claims data shows a spike in accidents around 5pm to 7pm. Either way the key commuting periods when more traffic is on the roads are clearly times for greater care to be taken.

Drivers of other vehicles need to play their part by continually watching for motorcyclists on the road; but Swann has some tips for motorcyclists themselves. No matter whether you are 20 year old chasing freedom, a 40 year old enjoying speed, or in the throes of a mid-life crisis motorcycle ride, take the extra care on the road. Remember:

  • You’re small: Even the biggest bike is only a fraction of the size of a car. While that might mean manoeuvrability it means that you’re much less likely to be seen. Be aware that no matter how good a rider you are, it can be other drivers who are the real risk.
  • Wear appropriate gear – be seen: Most standard motorcycle gear is about keeping the rider safe if/when an accident occurs – but to prevent an accident it helps to be seen. Again, you’re less noticeable than a car. Wear reflectors and other hi-viz gear and keep your lights on.
  • Know your bike:Get used to your bike before you put it – and yourself – in harm’s way. And if you are moving to a new motorbike treat it with the same respect and caution you did with your first motorbike.
  • The difference between one motorbike and another, in relation to your own height and weight, can be far more significant than the difference between one car and another. If you’re new to riding, take a motorcycle skills course. The Ride Forever national training programme ( provides heavily subsidised training throughout the whole of New Zealand.


To read more on this story in the media, please click:–iag

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