Brexit and Bikers: What could change?
We’ve already looked at which way the biggest insurance associations and industry organisations want the EU referendum to go.
Now we’re looking at how bikers like you could be affected.
We’ve scoured the web to see the impact a vote to leave could have on you and your bike.
European breakdown cover
Both the AA and RAC, two of the biggest breakdown cover providers in the UK, have stated that leaving the EU will not affect breakdown cover in Europe.
The only thing that could change is the cost of policies, which could rise as a result of a predicted change in the exchange rate.
Controversial gender issues
One of the EU’s more tangible insurance directives came from the European Court of Justice.
It stated that insurance companies were no longer able to take gender into account when calculating risk profiles.
This meant that female motorists, traditionally considered low-risk for insurers, saw a rise in their insurance premiums. On the flip side, male motorists saw their insurance premiums fall.
This policy could be abandoned if the UK votes to leave the EU, however it seems unlikely and quite far down the post-Brexit things to do list.
Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) rises
Last year IPT grew from six per cent to 9.5 per cent, a move that George Osborne said was to bring the UK in line with other EU member states.
This could be reversed if the UK leaves the EU because there would be no reason to keep us in line with other European States if we don’t have to.
Except of course the whole tax angle which gives the government more money.
In the last Budget statement, Osborne also announced that IPT will increase again by 0.5 per cent in August.
As a result, and a certain £80m increase in money it would generate, it’s unlikely IPT would be reversed.
Riding to Europe
Road trips and motorbike tours into Europe are more popular than ever among UK riders, as sales of Adventure bikes shows.
A vote to leave the EU would result in more Customs controls at ports on both sides of the Channel.
Other than that, driving in the Schengen area (the EU passport free zone) should remain hassle free.
One of the big changes however concerns the length of time UK bikers would be allowed to continuously travel around Europe.
Without a Visa, UK bikers would be able to stay in Europe for potentially 90-days before a Visa was required, however again, the actual number of days is yet to be confirmed.
Then there’s also the fact that if Sterling drops in value as expected, exchange rates will take a hit, making your European road trip that bit more expensive.
One thing that looks likely if the UK votes to leave the EU is an increase in fuel prices.
The AA predicts petrol prices lurching up by 18.7p per litre from around £1.03 to almost £1.22 in a worst-case scenario.
PetrolPrices.com believes that’s a slightly dramatic view however the uncertainty of the referendum result has already impacted the value of Sterling against the US Dollar – the trading currency for oil prices.
That means that the trading price of oil has already gone up, making fuel more expensive in the UK.
The British Pound is expected to take another hit (a 20 per cent drop in value is being predicted by HSBC) if the UK leaves the EU, in which case the cost of petrol will increase.
Buying a new motorbike
Again, if we look at the predicted drop in value of Sterling if Brexit comes about, UK bikers look set to pay more for a new motorbike in the immediate aftermath.
So Brexit will impact the majority of UK bikers in the market for a new bik if the British Pound falls in value if Brexit occurs.
Manufacturers are already feeling the pinch and some, Yamaha for example, have been forced to discontinue certain models due to the costs involved with meeting stringent Euro4 emissions targets across all of its models.
So would Euro emissions targets disappear in the event of Brexit for bikes sold in the UK?
The answer is probably not. All manufacturers, even the British ones, sell bikes in the EU where they need to meet certain emissions targets to be able to do so.
Manufacturers are unlikely to create engines and drivetrains purely for the UK market and are more likely to conform to EU directives and sell those bikes to the UK market anyway.
So while emissions targets exist in the European Union, bike manufacturers will continue to hit them.
Better to remain?
The question we all want answering, with a straight answer please Politicians, is if we are better staying in the EU or leaving it?
Unfortunately, we can’t get a solid answer out of anyone, so all we can do is present the facts that are available to us (there aren’t many), the predictions being slung about in the industry and try to weigh up for ourselves what would suit us bikers more.
What’s clear is that the majority of European manufacturers, perhaps BMW most vocally, want the UK to remain.
The insurance industry’s leading associations and organisations believe the UK is better off in Europe, while the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) also shares that view.
Overall it seems the biggest and most immediate impact it will have on UK bikers is in terms of the value of the Pound.
If the value falls as expected by most of the people and groups in the know petrol will become more expensive.
Other than that, and as you’ve probably noticed throughout this campaign period, nobody can really predict what’s going to happen.