Riding a motorcycle overseas

Are you planning on riding a motorcycle overseas?

Riding a motorcycle overseas is not only a cheap way to get around, it can also help you to have a more authentic travel experience by getting around like the locals.

At Go Insurance, we understand that mixing it with the locals and riding a motorcycle overseas can be exciting but beware – it’s dangerous and if you haven’t gone about it the right way, your travel insurance policy may not respond if you fall off and get hurt.

Each travel insurer has their own policy terms relating to riding a motorcycle overseas. Some policies completely exclude claims arising from riding motorcycles, some provide limited cover and others offer more cover than most.

Check the fine print to make sure the policy provides cover to you if you ride a motorcycle and then make sure you comply with the terms and conditions of the policy.

For instance; some insurers require that you have a motorcycle licence to hire any form of motorised bike. Certain insurers stipulate that you can only hire a motorcycle of a certain engine capacity (eg 50cc or less) and others require that you use safety equipment and wear a helmet. Some travel insurers include cover for motorcycling at no extra cost and others require you to pay additional premium to have it included in your policy.

Subject to relevant terms and conditions, Go Insurance policies provide automatic cover for motorcycling provided you meet certain criteria:

  1. You must wear a helmet (this applies if you are the driver or passenger)
  2. You (or the driver if you are a passenger) must hold an appropriate driving licence for the country you are in
  3. If the engine capacity of the motorcycle is more than 125cc, you (or the driver if you are a passenger) must hold a valid and unrestricted motorcycling licence required for driving an equivalent capacity motorcycle in Australia (up to a maximum 1200cc).

Here is where it starts to get a little tricky!

Each country has different laws relating to riding a motorcycle. In some countries, a drivers licence from your home country is sufficient whereas other countries require that you also have an International Drivers Permit (IDP). To legally ride a motorcycle in some countries, you are actually required to sit a test to secure a local licence.

Looking at Australian law, if you have a car licence that was issued in Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia or Western Australia, you can legally ride a motorcycle, scooter or moped in Australia if the engine capacity is 50cc or less. To legally ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity of more than 50cc in Australia, you need to have a motorcycle licence.

If your car licence was issued in New South Wales, to legally ride a motorcycle, moped or scooter with an engine capacity of 50cc or less, you actually need a “conditional rider licence”. If the engine capacity is more than 50cc, then you need a motorcycle licence.

So what does this all mean for your next holiday?

Whilst motorcycle hire companies will often tell you that you don’t need a licence, it is your responsibility to know the facts and ensure you do not break the law. Let’s look at the law around riding a motorcycle in a few popular destinations.

Indonesia / Bali

To legally ride a motorcycle in Bali, you will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP). This will entitle you to use the road in the same manner that you can at home. If you only have a car licence in Australia, an IDP will entitle you to drive a car and also a motorcycle of 50cc or less (provided your car licence was issued in Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia or Western Australia). Once you have an IDP, you also need to carry your Australian licence with you to ensure it is valid.

If you do not obtain an IDP prior to leaving Australia and want to ride a motorcycle, you will need to visit a local police station, sit the test and pay the fee (usually US$30) to obtain a licence.

Once you are licensed, you need to carry your IDP and Australian car licence (or local bike licence) on you and also wear a helmet (which fastens under the chin).

Unless you have an Australian motorcycle licence, do not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity of more than 50cc. To legally ride a scooter or motorcycle with an engine capacity of more than 50cc (at home or overseas), you need a motorcycle licence.

Thailand

To drive a car or ride a motorcycle in Thailand, you need to have a valid licence in the same vehicle class. Whilst you can hire a car with an Australian drivers licence, you will be driving illegally if you do not also hold an International Drivers Permit or Thai Licence.

Thai law also requires that you wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.

Vietnam / Cambodia

Don’t get caught out here! International Driving Permits issued in Australia are not valid in Vietnam or Cambodia. To drive or ride in Vietnam, you actually need to have a valid Vietnamese drivers licence. To drive or ride in Cambodia, you need a valid Cambodian drivers licence.

Sorry … there’s no ifs and no buts.

Malaysia

To legally drive or ride in Malaysia, you need an IDP and must carry your Australian licence with you.

A few more points:

Driving or riding a motorcycle overseas is very dangerous. Road rules that apply on Australian roads do not necessary apply overseas. Road conditions are often poor and night driving / riding is fraught with unseen and unusual hazards (think livestock, pot holes and rubbish).

Think about whether you have any prior experience in riding a motorcycle – just because you are on holiday doesn’t mean you suddenly possess riding skills to rival Casey Stoner or Mick Doohan!

If you are going to ride, remember that riding a motorcycle other than what you can legally ride with the appropriate licences will invalidate your travel insurance if you need to make a claim arising from riding a motorcycle overseas.

Take it slow – there is no need to speed and please, please do not ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Oh, and wear a helmet and appropriate clothing at all times – definitely not thongs or sandals otherwise, this too could invalidate your insurance and you will be riding without any cover.

Don’t forget to get your International Drivers Permit (if accepted where you are going) and remember that to be eligible for one, you need to be fully licensed in Australia – probationary licence holders are not eligible.  To find out more about IDPs and whether they apply to where you are going, contact your local motoring club.  If you do require one, they can often issue an IDP for you over the phone as well!

If you have any queries about riding a motorcycle overseas or how the Go Insurance travel policy responds to cover this, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 819 888 or via email sales@goinsurance.com.au .

Categories: Travel Advice, Travel Insurance

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