New Bike Guide

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Well *now* what do I do?

What a mess. And regardless of whose fault it was it's going to cost you...It's almost inevitable that at some point in your riding career you will find yourself on the wrong end of another road user's mistake. That horrible moment where you realise, just too late, that what you thought was eye contact and recognition was actually the vacant stare of a complete cretin. You brake, you take avoiding action but all to no avail. There's a screech and a bang and everything happens terribly slowly as you are thrown from the bike, bounce off the car and land in a heap on the road. It's a horrible feeling, but at least you're not hurt, so it's all OK.

All you need to do now is get your insurance company to contact their insurance company and it will all sort itself out. Of course, these things take time, so you need to wait for them to agree whose fault it was, to contact their engineer who needs to come and look at the bike, to authorise repair, to haggle about your helmet, which needs replacing of course, and your scuffed and sorry looking jacket and trousers... And all this time you're commuting by public transport and paying for the privilege. If you were hurt then it's even worse, because now you're unable to chase things up (no mobiles allowed in hospital), you're not earning and, though eventually you'll get everything back, perhaps, right now it's a layer of hassle and worry that you really don't need.

Now in an ideal world, insurance companies would all behave impeccably and admit responsibility where they needed to. They'd pay up promptly and give a fair price each time, and everyone would be happy. Apart from their shareholders, of course, who may take a dim view of their investment being devalued like this. Truth is, insurance is a business and like any other business you pay out as little as you can and hold out for as long as possible before paying. It's pretty harsh but it's also reality. And as a biker you are in just about the worst possible position for getting stitched up by an insurer.

There's still a perception in the legal system that we invite any calamity that may befall us because we choose to ride a bike. As a result, various arguments have been made, with horrifying degrees of success, that actually this pillock who just pulled out in front of you and reduced your bike to a pile of scrap while injuring you is in fact the innocent party - you're the villain for choosing to ride in the first place. It's stupid, it's unfair and it's untrue. But it still happens.

So let's look at the process after you've been knocked off. Or even after you've got it wrong yourself - the principle at this point is much the same.

You phone your insurance company and tell them what's happened. Let's assume that you're not hurt but the bike is damaged. We'll also assume you've sorted out recovery and the bike is at a dealer.

Some time later you get a call from the insurance company's call centre, probably outside the UK. You tell them what's happened.About half of the bikes awaiting repair and assessment at Plantec's workshop

Some time later still you get a call from the engineer who needs to inspect the bike. You tell him what's happened and where the bike is.

Later still, you get a call form their legal people. You tell them what happened. You need to explain what you actually mean when you refer to, say, the forks being bent, because they know nothing about bikes.

A lot later you get a call from another person at the insurance company who asks you to explain what happened again. I don't know what they do or why they call, but this always seems to happen to me so I guess it's normal. You ask about bike hire and getting your kit replaced, but they can't tell you anything.

Several days later you get a call telling you that the bike is a write-off.

You then enter protracted negotiations about the real value of the bike. You're still travelling by train and it's costing you a small fortune. Nobody can tell you about hiring a bike or getting your kit replaced. The other driver is denying responsibility, saying that you were going too fast. The Police aren't interested because you weren't hurt so there's been no measuring done.

You're stuck.

Eventually, of course, the case is settled in your favour. You get an agreed value of the bike, which is quite a lot less than it's worth to you. You take a hit on your kit because they'll argue that buying you a new lid is "betterment" - you shouldn't actually gain from the claim so you have to make up the difference between the second hand value of your lid and the cost of a new one. Likewise gloves and jacket. You've had to pay out for public transport, phone calls and so on, and have had loads of hassle to deal with. You're probably down the best part of a grand.

Exaggeration? Perhaps, but only slightly. I personally can point at maybe a dozen of my friends and colleagues who have ended up seriously out of pocket because of the delay that occurs when the insurance dinosaur swings into action. I ended up paying out on an absolutely bona fide no fault claim because by the time my insurers got around to contacting the witnesses, six months had gone by and they could no longer be considered totally reliable. The other driver, of course, denied liability. Well he would, wouldn't he. Bang went my no claims bonus, and I had to replace my lid and jacket out of my own pocket.

Part of the workshop. It's lunchtime so it's quiet but it's ever so clean and well laid out...Why does this happen? In a nutshell, it's because bikes are a tiny proportion of the marketplace and as a result if you're claiming against a third party, the chances are his insurers will know approximately damn-all about bikes. Maybe less. A bike accident is not like a car accident. Two cars have a knock and usually, even if there's a claim, both parties drive away and deal with it as and when. You get knocked off your bike and if there's an insurance claim to be made the chances are that, even if you're unhurt, you won't be able to ride it away. So straight away there's a layer of complication - sorting out alternative transport. Car drivers don't have to worry about protective clothing either. I spent many happy hours arguing with a driver's insurer, or more accurately a call centre, while trying to get them to fork out for a new helmet. They don't understand that a lid is a single use item. They don't understand the implications of a broken fairing bracket or a bent fork stanchion and can't understand why you can't just leave your bike with only old backstreet repair shop but need to go to someone who knows what they're doing.

A fortnight ago, though, something came to my attention that could signal the end of this pretty sorry state of affairs. Accident Management companies are nothing new - chances are you've encountered one, even if just to know they exist. But one specialising in bikes? That's a different matter entirely.

Plantec have been going for a few years now, quietly building their business and refining it. They started as a credit hire company providing bikes to bikers involved in non-fault accidents. As the need for this service grew, so did the services they provided. Now they offer a complete end to end claim solution - all handled in house. Plantec boasts one of the largest bike hire fleets in the UK, an extremely large and well equipped repair centre and a fleet of vans This is just part of the team waiting to help YOU out of the pooh...doing nothing but collecting and delivering bikes all over the UK. By listening to what bikers wanted, Plantec has gone from strength to strength. Whether you’re injured or just need a replacement bike, one call to Plantec will ensure that you’re taken care of.

And that's Good News for you. Because it means you can get a company who actually understands bikes and bikers working on your behalf from the off. Not only that, but they also understand the law, insurance companies and all the minefields you can encounter when you marry those two together. Here's how it works.

You contact Plantec and you give them the details of what happened, where you are, what your bike is, where it is and any damage to it, you or your kit. One call, that's it. Not long afterwards, if not the same day then usually the next day, a large van arrives at work, home or wherever you've agreed and a hire bike is disgorged. Your own bike fills the gap in the van and is taken away for repair. You'll get regular updates on the progress of the repair and, when it's ready, your bike will get delivered back to you and the hire bike gets taken away. Easy, huh?

And it gets better. First of all, the hire bike will be something appropriate. From GSX-R to Pan European to 125 scooter, Plantec have it in the fleet. But perhaps most important of all, they are out to minimise your aggravation and costs, and to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

When they're working for you, or your insurer, as well as trying to minimise your hassle they're also right on top of the other driver's insurance company, worrying away at them and making sure that they cough up what's due. And from what I've seen, they're bloody handy to have on your side.

So what do you do?

Easy. Download this card and print it out. Cut around the outside and pop it in your wallet.

When it all goes pear shaped, get the card out and ring Plantec. If you can, do it before you call anyone else - even your insurance company - though obviously deal with the Police and Ambulance if necessary first. Then sit back and relax, knowing that someone who knows what they (and, more importantly, you) are talking about is getting things happening. Even if it was your fault, they'll at least be able to offer some advice and guidance. And the real beauty is that it doesn't cost you a penny.

We all hope that it will never happen to us. But we all ought to recognise that one day it will, even if the result is no more than some scuffed plastics and minor irritation. Plantec offer to minimise the hassle and make the experience as pleasant as it can be.

That's got to be A Good Thing.


Print this off and keep it in your wallet, just in case...





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