13 May 2020

Riding and driving under “Staying alert and safe” regime

Today (Wednesday 13 May) sees the start of revised ‘lockdown’ measures introduced by the Government in England.

In many ways, little has changed. We are being asked to leave home only to go to work, to do essential shopping, for medical needs or for exercise or recreational purposes. Whilst the messaging has changed, stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid 19 remains at its core.

However there are two key changes which could impact car and motorcycle insurance policyholders.

On Sunday the Prime Minster stated that “”We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.” The advice previously was to go into work only if you must.

Whilst a little more nuanced the full Staying alert and safe guidance unsurprisingly echoes the PMs exhortation.

Return to work commuting

Getting to work was an issue addressed by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Noting the rise in the numbers of those walking and cycling in the previous weeks of lockdown he urged that “when the country does get back to work we need to ask those people to carry on cycling or walking and for them to be joined by many others as well.

Walking and cycling were promoted to help prevent potential gridlock due to the reduced capacity of public transport networks.

Walking or cycling could pose practical problems for many. Government research showed that in 2013/14 the average commuting distance was 8.8 miles. Driving, riding or public transport, if available, could be the only options.

The PM additionally advocated the use of cars.  Controversially the use of motorcycles,was not advised for return to work commuting.

Only you can determine what is the best, most practical way to get to work under the new rules.

Stay Alert commutingThinking of becoming a motorcycle commuter?

You could certainly be forgiven for choosing to be a motorcycle commuter.

Motorcycles are more agile and take up less space on the road. Rather than contribute to congestion, they can reduce it.

They also make sense in our socially distanced times. Helmet law means that riders, by default, have their faces covered. Good practice also sees the use of wider body protective wear.

Riding is a largely a solo pursuit, excepting when a pillion is carried which may be less likely on a daily commute.

Motorcycling is more environmentally friendly. Lockdown has made us appreciate cleaner air. In April alone, Europe-wide it reportedly helped some 11,000 air pollution attributable deaths to be avoided.

Not surprisingly, there is a growing controversy over the exclusion of motorcycling from the governments return to work commuting strategy. We shall be reporting on this shortly – and advising on how you might lobby for change.

Stay alert bike insuranceMotorcycle insurance commuting considerations

Deciding whether to ride to work has to be a personal decision.

Only you can weigh up the pros and cons in relation to your particular circumstances and do what we are all urged; apply common sense.

If you do opt to ride there are some things to consider:

  • Ride even more carefully. The stay alert message is particularly pertinent at a time when we read of extreme speeders taking advantage of the emptier roads. Take care of yourself. The NHS really doesn’t need you being rolled through A&E’s doors.
  • Keep it clean. Observing the government’s handwashing guidance – for 20 seconds and often – and sanitise your biking kit . When filling up remember that rather than reducing viral spread, gloves can increase it. If you can, sanitise pump handles after use.
  • Give your bike a once-over. If you’ve not ridden for a while, do a quick mechanical and safety check. Avoiding a breakdown will reduce pressure on assistance services.
  • Check your bike insurance. Many policies do not include commuting insurance as standard. Check your documents. If you are a Principal policyholder and do not have commuting insurance, please contact us to see if we can extend your cover.

Riding or driving for leisure and pleasure

The new guidance means you can now drive or ride to any “outdoor public space, irrespective of distance, but should follow social distancing guidance whilst you are there.”

This advice applies only within England as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate rules in place.

The government advises you to “plan ahead to ensure that, where you are visiting places like National Parks, you have checked that they are open and appropriately prepared for visitors.”

The application of common sense seems particularly pertinent here. There are many temptations out there. Matlock Bath. The Yorkshire Moors, Box Hill. Brighton, Southend, Scarborough….

Stay Alert classic carIt’s worth considering when and where to travel – and how you can continue to observe the two-metre rule when you get there.

Public gatherings of more than two people remain a no-no.

Riding in groups is also off limits and, say, impromptu classic car rallies are unlikely to impress the boys in blue.

As a biker you might also be tempted to twist the throttle.

As a car or van driver, to press the accelerator just that bit harder. More than ever it’s worth resisting, if only to ensure our hard-pressed NHS medics can focus on delivering care to coronavirus patients.

But even a small off, minor smash or mechanical failure can result in emergency service attendance. They’d rather not.


If you have any queries about your motorcycle, motorhome, van or car insurance, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can find all the relevant telephone numbers and email addresses here.

You can also get in touch during weekday business hours using our webchat service.

Stay safeStay alert

These are strange and trying times. But as the crisis has unfolded it’s been heartening to see widespread observance of advice – now further encouraged by heftier fines – which should help us get back to some kind of normality.

We all want to enjoy – as best we can and as soon as we can – the freedoms we previously took for granted.

We’re not there yet but hopefully we’re making progress on a long journey. So, if you’re looking to benefit from the newly relaxed rules, please stay safe and stay well.


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