“The insurers categorically refused to insure my motorcycle because I am registered disabled”
Anyone can own and insure a vehicle even without a license, but the process is often difficult and means sellers and insurance companies reject customers out of hand.
Image: Darren Quinton / Coventry Telegraph)
A lively biker recounted his struggle to keep riding when he went blind and insurers refused to cover him even as a passenger – preventing him from enjoying his love of the road.
Kevin Grainger, 55, of Darlington, fell in love with motorcycles at the age of 14, when his grandfather bought him a Yamaha FS1E moped.
Since then he has traveled on motorcycles to 19 countries and says he appreciates the biker community.
“It’s a welcoming world,” he said. “Bank managers, vets, police officers, whatever you want, they all cycle. “
In 2006, he first noticed a change in his vision due to an undiagnosed disease that worsened. In 2011, he had to stop riding his motorcycles altogether.
For eight years after that, he didn’t ride a motorcycle at all until one day at a bike dealership he was friends with, Teasdale Motorcycles.
“I asked a biker, ‘if you take me I’ll pay for the coffee stop and your fees,’” he said.
The rider said yes, and Kevin went out with him in the backseat of the bike.
He savored the experience and couldn’t wait to do it again.
“When you become disabled, your mobility is severely reduced,” he said. “Your mobility is your independence.”
After enjoying getting out in the backs of other people’s bikes, Kevin wanted to buy his own.
But he found the process to be an uphill struggle.
Due to his eyesight, Kevin cannot obtain a license to operate a motorcycle.
But there is no law that says bikers must have a license to own or insure a motorcycle.
This means that anyone has every right to buy one and insure it so that others can control it for them.
But despite this, Kevin found himself frustrated at every turn.
He says that many dealerships refused to deal with him because he did not have a motorcycle license.
“It’s caused by fear,” Kevin said. “There is a stigma attached to it. People are afraid to deal with a person with a disability. Just yesterday people talked to my wife but avoided talking to me altogether.”
Finally, Kevin managed to get his hands on a Kawasaki 1000GT motorcycle, then took on his second challenge: insurance.
Each of the big four price comparison websites – GoCompare, CompareTheMarket, MoneySuperMarket, and Confused – wouldn’t cover it.
“Many insurers are hostile to people with disabilities,” Kevin said. “But why? How much risk am I? I can’t control a vehicle!”
Kevin spoke to his Darlington MP Peter Gibson about this and then to the British Insurance Brokers Association (Biba), which has a signaling service, Find A Broker , to help people who have difficulty covering themselves.
In less than 24 hours, Biba had put him in touch with A-Plan, who finally assured him in March of this year.
Grainger congratulated Biba’s team and told them that he “owed you a debt of gratitude that I couldn’t pay”.
“I am so grateful to these people, who have no prejudices,” said Kevin. “Without them, I wouldn’t be able to ride.
Now anyone with a license and a full bike cover can be a named biker on Kevin’s police and ride the Kawasaki with him in the back.
He most often dates his friend Johnathan Wells and says it allows him to enjoy the ride and the social side of being a motorcyclist.
Teasdale Motorcycles even helped provide it with safety gear like a helmet intercom.
He has big plans for more visits to Europe, and says he would like to visit Colditz Castle in Germany, where Allied officers were held as prisoners during WWII.
“I want to show that people with disabilities should not be treated any differently from others,” he said.
“I’m not special, and neither am I. My mobility is the same as everyone’s. It’s time people started to see people with disabilities as people.”