Car Insurance Vs. Motorbike Insurance


May 7, 2024
Team Pineapple

What has wheels, gets you from point A to B and needs insurance? 

If you guessed ‘car’, you’d be correct. If you guessed ‘motorcycle’, you’re not wrong either. 

But don’t get your wires crossed; these vehicles don’t always find themselves occupying the same space. Take insurance, for instance; cars and motorbikes each require different insurance policies for adequate protection. 

Insuring your car or motorcycle involves understanding key differences due to their distinct risks and uses. Knowing the distinctions between the two is essential for choosing the right insurance coverage. 

That’s why Pineapple put together this guide to highlight the unique aspects of car and motorbike insurance for your reading pleasure. 

We trust this information will help you make informed decisions for your vehicle's safety and security.

Vehicle Type and Insurance Requirements

The differences between a car and a motorbike are so stark that even the three blind mice would notice. However, if you’re not as perceptive, these vehicles differ significantly in size, usage, and vulnerability, and each of these factors influences insurance requirements and premiums in distinct ways. 

Vehicle Characteristics

One is a 4-wheeled motor machine that can either be as basic as the girl-next-door or flashier than the neighbourhood streaker. The other is bound to get you a tongue-lashing from most of the women in your life because are you trying to kill yourself?!

Anyway, that’s beside the point.

The point is size matters; motorcycles are smaller and more exposed compared to cars. 

This exposure creates an elevated risk of injury while also affecting the likelihood of theft and damage, resulting in higher insurance premiums.

The inherent vulnerability of motorcycles and their riders plays a big role in insurance considerations. And that’s not all. Motorcycles are more susceptible to weather conditions, road hazards, and even theft, which can also contribute to a higher frequency of claims. 

Cars, on the other hand, are larger and more enclosed. They generally offer more physical protection against impacts and environmental factors than a motorbike would. 

Plus,  insurance providers typically perceive automobiles as less risky, thus resulting in lower premiums for similar coverage.

These fundamental differences are not to be ignored. They emphasise the need for tailored insurance policies for each vehicle type.

With motorcycle insurance policies, insurers place a greater emphasis on theft protection, personal injury protection, and liability for damages to others. Car insurance policies instead focus on collisions, personal injury protection for you and your passengers, and comprehensive coverage for a wider range of incidents.

Risk Assessment and Premium Determinants


If the census people and insurance sales agents competed to see who asks the most invasive questions, it’d be tough to determine a winner. 

Yet still, these never-ending questions are actually for your own good. Insurers use these questions to put together a nice little judgment of you, called a ‘risk profile’. 

Let’s see how it differs in the ‘car vs motorbike insurance’ debate:

Risk Profiles

Whether it’s a car or a motorcycle, insurers assess risk for each by considering factors like accident statistics and theft rates, which differ greatly between the two. 

It’s well-documented that motorcycles have a higher accident rate than cars. This is mainly because of their vulnerability on the road and lower visibility to other drivers. So, this increased risk of injuries and accidents naturally leads to higher insurance premiums for motorcycles. 

Plus, motorbikes are often used for recreational purposes rather than regular transportation needs. Thus, riders tend to spend less time riding them than driving cars.

Lastly, there’s a higher chance of a motorcycle being written off after an accident than a car, which increases the risk of insuring a motorbike.

Similarly, it was found that motorcycles are generally more prone to theft. This is typically due to their size and the ease with which they can be transported. 

Again, this risk is reflected in the insurance premiums. 

Motorcycle insurance can fetch a hefty price, often attracting higher premiums than cars, which are slightly more difficult to steal.

Furthermore, cars typically have safety features, namely airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and stability control, which help mitigate the risk of accidents and injuries. Motorcycles do not. At least not in the extensive way that cars do.

However, advancements for motorbikes like anti-lock brakes and traction control are fast becoming the norm.

Premium Determinants

A famous rapper once said, “Let’s talk money, I talk that,” and like him, Pineapple speaks the language of money fluently. So, let’s talk about monthly insurance premium costs.

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but multiple factors influence insurance premiums for both cars and motorcycles. 

These are usually the vehicle's retail value, make and model, age and that of the driver/rider, plus other details (what gender they are, how long they have had their licences, where they park the vehicle and what protective safety measures are in place).

Let’s unpack.

Higher-value vehicles will always attract higher premiums regardless of whether it’s a car or a bike. This is due to the greater cost of repair or replacement for these luxury and high-performance models. 

Next, the vehicle’s year of manufacture commonly known as the age. 

Spanking-new models typically cost more to insure, thanks to their higher retail value at the time. The make and model also play a similarly crucial role; some brands and models are associated with more expensive repair costs or are more likely to be involved in accidents or thefts.

As for the motorist or rider’s risk profile, insurers look at the person’s age, driving or riding experience, claims submitted and insurance history. 

It should come as no surprise that those with less experience or have an extensive claims history, are viewed as posing a higher risk, so they pay higher premiums. Additionally, travelling and residing in an area with an elevated likelihood of accidents or theft will also influence the cost of insurance for your car or bike.

Contrarily, older and more experienced individuals with clean driving records enjoy lower monthly insurance costs.

Coverage Options and Limitations

Similar to cars, motorcycle coverage comes in the following policy options: comprehensive, third-party and third-party fire and theft insurance. 

The major difference between car insurance and motorbike coverage is risk, which, as we’ve already discussed, leads to dreaded premium differences.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive insurance offers a broad spectrum of protection for both cars and motorcycles, covering incidents beyond the typical collision-related damages. The coverage extends to protection against theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and third-party liability. 

But you probably already knew that. 

Although the foundational elements of comprehensive coverage are similar for cars and motorcycles, there are nuances in how the policy applies to each vehicle type. 

But before we get into that, let’s just make sure we know what each motorbike insurance category entails:

  1. Comprehensive motorbike insurance virtually covers all accidental damage to your motorcycle, including the costs associated with theft. This policy also offers liability protection; if you accidentally damage someone else’s vehicle or building, this coverage will take care of that.

  1. A third-party-only bike policy covers you only in the event you accidentally damage someone’s property with your motorcycle.

  1. With third-party and theft cover you’re covered when you accidentally damage another person’s vehicle or building, and if your bike gets stolen, you’ll also be covered.

The first option safeguards you against damages to your bike if you're at fault, in addition to third-party, fire and theft protection.

Option two offers entry-level coverage, taking care of damages or injuries to another person or their bike should you be involved in an accident with them. The last option in the list builds on the previous policy, adding coverage for damage or destruction to your bike in the event of fire or theft. 

Although the latter options are typically more affordable than option one, they don’t give you complete coverage, especially if you spend a lot of time on your bike. 

That’s why comprehensive insurance is often a more desirable option for your motorbike.

Comprehensive insurance offers a broad spectrum of protection, covering accidents beyond just collision-related damages, including theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and third-party liability. 

Specialised Motorcycle Coverage

Hopefully, the higher risk and pricier premiums haven’t scared you off from motorcycles. Because despite some of the negatives, they do have their redeeming qualities. 

For starters, motorbikes are more fuel-efficient than cars, they’re easier to park, and you don't have to endure much traffic. Not to mention the unmatched exhilaration of riding (responsibly, of course)!

If we’re speaking your language, and you’re looking to get your own two-wheeled beast, here’s what you need to know from an insurance perspective.

Riding a bike comes with a unique set of risks, so first things first: bikers need to invest in protective gear

Given the importance of safety gear, this means that motorcycle insurance policies typically allow you to cover items like helmets, jackets, and gloves. Additionally, coverage can also include protection for custom parts and accessories not originally included with the bike, such as aftermarket exhausts or custom paint jobs. 

However, you’ll need to disclose any additional parts or modifications so that your insurer knows to include them in your policy and give you an accurate premium. 

That’s because replacing riding gear can be expensive. 

For example, a new helmet can cost anything upwards of R 3,680, depending on the type, quality and brand. Gloves, although cheaper, still have a starting price of R 1,250 for a quality pair.

And in the event of an accident, if your motorcycle doesn’t get written off, you’ll definitely have to replace some of its parts. 

Motorcycle spares are generally more expensive than car parts because of numerous reasons, i.e. material costs, specialised manufacturing methods, and lower production rates. 

That’s why it’s essential for South African vehicle owners to select insurance that adequately protects the unique aspects of their vehicle and riding or driving habits.

Exclusions and Special Considerations

Like all good things, vehicle insurance, for both cars and bikes, has a few terms and conditions to abide by. You can rest assured that these aren’t inconquerable obstacles but minor hurdles that you can overcome with relative ease. For example, insurance providers often insist on safety measures for motorbikes and security features for cars, highlighting the industry's emphasis on risk reduction.

Rider Safety

Let’s start by exploring biker safety. 

Rider safety is critical in motorcycle insurance, with insurance providers often taking into account the measures riders take to protect themselves. 

Besides the benefit of safety, riders can participate in training courses to improve riding skills, awareness, and safety on the road. 

Insurers may even offer premium discounts to individuals who’ve completed accredited training programmes, recognising the reduced risk of accidents and claims. However, this may not always be the case with every insurance provider, so be sure to ask.

Another important consideration is using protective gear. 

Helmets, gloves, jackets, and other protective clothing help mitigate the severity of injuries when an accident occurs. 

It must be said that responsible riding behaviour goes beyond training and gear. It also means adherence to traffic laws, restricting risky behaviour (speeding or aggressive riding, etc.), and maintaining a clean riding record. 

Insurance providers may even reward riders who continually demonstrate a commitment to safety with lower premiums, given the lower risk they pose.

Car Security Features

For cars, the presence of features often plays a role in determining insurance costs. 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a modern vehicle that doesn’t come equipped with a range of anti-theft devices and systems designed to deter theft and facilitate recovery. 

Features like immobilisers, which stop the engine from starting without the correct key, and alarm systems serve as the first line of defence against would-be carjackers.

Car tracking systems also offer an additional layer of security, allowing stolen vehicles to be tracked and recovered timeously. And in a country like South Africa, where the scourge of vehicle theft continues to terrorise parts of the nation, these systems are invaluable. 

Insurance providers adore these systems, as they significantly increase the chances of recovering a stolen vehicle, thereby reducing the potential loss. 

Consequently, cars equipped with tracking systems may qualify for lowered insurance premiums.

Claims Process and Settlement

Regardless of the motor, an insurer's goal remains the same: whether it is repairs and/or replacement, restoring the vehicle to its pre-incident condition in a cost-effective manner is of utmost importance.

Given the similarities in coverage for motorbikes and cars, it only makes sense for the claims process to more or less be the same. 

Therefore, as policyholders, insurance providers encourage you to understand your policy details, including the excess and how it works, limits on coverage for accessories or modifications, and the process for disputing a claim settlement if the need arises.

Accident and Theft Claims

As we’ve just said (literally a few sentences ago), the claims process for car and motorbike insurance in South Africa generally follows a similar structure.

The rules for both car and motorcycle insurance typically insist on the following:

  • Immediate notification: This allows the insurance provider to offer guidance on the next steps after an accident or other non-collision-related incident, plus how to begin the claims process.

  • Documentation: You must provide accurate and detailed documents like a police report (for theft or accidents involving third parties), photographs of the damage, and any relevant witness statements.

  • Assessment: Your insurer will then assess the claim, which involves inspecting the vehicle damage and reviewing the circumstances of the incident.

Repair and Replacement

The process of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles varies between insurance companies and also depends on the policy's terms, the extent of the damage, and the type of vehicle.

Generally, insurers have a network of approved repair shops and prefer for clients to use these. This helps ensure the quality of repairs and compliance are within the insurer's cost controls.

But before repairs begin, the insurance provider will assess the damage to determine if repairs are economically viable or if the vehicle should be declared a total loss and written off.

Motorcycle repairs require specialised knowledge, especially for high-performance or custom bikes. Insurers might have to source parts from specific suppliers, potentially affecting repair times. 

For classic or highly customised motorcycles, insurers may offer agreed value policies that consider the bike's unique value instead of the standard market or retail value.

Car repairs are more standardised, but issues can arise with luxury or imported models where parts are expensive or difficult to source. In cases of total loss, the settlement is based on the car's retail value at the time of the incident unless an agreed value policy is in place.


In summary, exploring the differences between car and motorbike insurance in South Africa is crucial for motorists and drivers seeking the appropriate protection. 

Motorbikes typically face higher risks and thus may have higher premiums, but they can also offer specialised coverage options for gear and accessories. Cars often focus on security features and liability coverage. 

Regardless of vehicle type, owners should assess their needs, considering the vehicle’s value, risk of theft, and usage, to choose a policy that offers the best coverage. 

Understanding the above ensures you select an insurance policy that provides both peace of mind and protection suited to your lifestyle and vehicle requirements.

After this long read, we only have one question: Ready to secure your peace of mind on the road? 

Choose Pineapple for comprehensive car insurance that's as unique as your journey. With affordable monthly premium options from as little as R25-ish per day, and unparalleled customer service, we've got you covered. 

Get a quote with Pineapple today and drive with confidence knowing you’re covered through and through!

Please Note: The information provided above is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as legal or financial advice.

Pineapple (FSP 48650) is underwritten by Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer Insure Limited, a licensed Non-Life Insurer and authorised FSP. T&Cs apply.

Team Pineapple

Team Pineapple comprises our company’s top talents, who are dedicated to creating clear, high-quality content on essential vehicle insurance topics. This diverse group, including actuaries, accountants, data scientists, and insurance professionals across South Africa, collaborates to produce enlightening and empowering articles.

Each piece is thoroughly researched, factually accurate, and rigorously reviewed to ensure quality.

*We say they’re the finest because we want them to keep writing for us!

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Please Note: The information provided above is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as legal or financial advice.

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