The UK motorcycle insurance market is ripe for consolidation, with a varied group of brokers and MGAs all competing for a diminishing band of 55-70 year old enthusiast bikers, plus reluctant commuters avoiding unreliable public transport. Then there’s the expanding food delivery and courier market.
For the last two decades the general approach has been affinity marketing, via lifestyle sponsorship, club member discount schemes and appointing biker brand ambassadors.
But times change, and even older guys who ride original Triumph Tridents have discovered how to work the internet. That means all the touchy-feely stuff about supporting biking, being on your side and sponsoring dreary car boot sales disguised as glamorous bike shows is coming to an end.
Those wealthy people who can afford to ride a 10K bike when the sun shines simply want the machine, and their kit, covered at the cheapest price. Classic owners with collections of 3-10 machines, want an insurer that can automate agreed valuations, instead of asking the policyholder to do all the work for them.
LONG TERM OUTLOOK
In the longer term, urban commuters and couriers may well be better off choosing PAYG cover like Zego‘s products, than stick with traditional bike insurers.
For them, an annual policy probably doesn’t make sense and PAYG is simply more affordable for people on a zero hours contract. That will leave the existing main players in bike insurance fighting over a gradually ageing customer pool. Many of them resent having to pay over £300 to insure a 15K bike. In that tough market, a gradual roll-up of existing brokers into perhaps three or four umbrella brands is the likely endgame.
Meanwhile in the MGA sector, two of the biggest name in bike insurance are set to become one brand in essence, as Carole Nash and Bennetts will now both sit under the Ardonagh Group umbrella.
It looks like interesting times ahead for staff at both those flagship brands, and there could be more grumbling at biker hangouts & cafes, as riders realise the merger means insurance premiums prices will probably rise. But you know what; maybe they should, because the risk of riding motorcycles has increased enormously as councils neglect road surfaces, traffic volumes increase and uninsured drivers are more plentiful. Fact is, older bikers simply aren’t as sharp and skilled as they once were.
Here’s the press statement on the deal from Ardonagh;
The Ardonagh Group today announced that Atlanta Investment Holdings C Limited, a subsidiary of Ardonagh, has exchanged contracts in relation to the purchase of Bennetts Motorcycling Services Limited, part of Saga Services Limited.
Bennetts will join Autonet, Carole Nash and Swinton as part of Atlanta, Ardonagh’s Retail platform. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval. Founded in 1930, Bennetts is a leading bike insurance specialist providing cover for over 200,000 motorcyclists across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Bennetts services riders online and via its 200-strong team across sites in Peterborough and Coventry. Bennetts also operates BikeSocial, an online news and advice platform which has amassed a significant following across social media.
Commenting on the news today, Ian Donaldson, CEO of Atlanta said:
“More than just an insurance provider, Bennetts holds a distinct place within the biking world thanks to its approach to social channels, with Bike Social providing a hub of expert resources and advice for riders across the UK.”
“It’s this client-centric focus which makes it a brand we’ve admired and one that’s set to complement our business lines. We look forward to the collaboration opportunities ahead.”
CEO of The Ardonagh Group David Ross said:
“Bennetts holds an well-respected position in the bike insurance sector, making it an ideal addition to the Group. As we gather further momentum into the new decade and continue capitalising on the opportunities, we look forward to welcoming another leading brand into the Ardonagh family.”
Vince Chaney, Managing Director of Bennetts added:
“As Bennetts enters its 91st year, the acquisition presents new opportunities for us to continue to improve our services for Britain’s motorcyclists. This is an exciting time within Bennetts and we’re looking forward to working with our new colleagues across The Ardonagh Group”