Pillion Cover for Motorbike Passengers

A passenger riding behind you on your motorbike or moped is called a ‘pillion passenger’ or someone ‘riding pillion’. Sharing a ride with another can be an exciting experience for both you and your pillion passenger, and can be a convenient way for the two of you to get around. But it’s important to make sure you have bike insurance that covers any pillion passengers you carry.


In this guide, we’ll explain what motorcycle pillion cover is and how it works. We’ll look at whether or not pillion cover is a legal requirement, as well as how to find the right motorbike insurance for you.

Rider sat on a motorbike next to a field looking into the distance
28 May 2024

What is pillion cover?


A pillion passenger is someone sitting behind you on your motorcycle or moped. Pillion cover is a part of your motorbike insurance – it insures both you and your passenger. Specifically, it covers your passenger for personal injury costs and damages in the event of an accident.


If you want to ride with a pillion passenger – even if it’s just for a short, one-off journey – make sure you have pillion cover as part of your motorbike insurance. If you don’t, and you’re involved in an accident, you might not be able to claim for your passenger’s costs. Or your policy may even be invalidated, meaning you could be left facing a hefty bill you’ll have to pay yourself.


Many motorbike insurance policies will cover pillion riders as standard. But if you’re planning on riding with a passenger, always check your insurance to make sure you have pillion cover. If not, you can usually add pillion cover to your policy. Of course, it’s very likely your premium will go up.


How does pillion cover work?


If you have motorbike insurance with pillion cover, your pillion passengers can claim against your insurance policy in the same way you can. A pillion passenger isn’t considered as a third party – they can make claims in the same way as the main policyholder, up to the policy limits for injuries and damage to their property.


But if you don’t have pillion cover, and you’re involved in an accident with a passenger, your insurer may deem them a third party. This means your insurer will reclaim their costs from you as a breach of your insurance policy. In some cases, carrying a pillion passenger without pillion cover can invalidate your motorbike insurance.


Why is pillion cover important?


If you’re riding with a pillion passenger, you’re responsible for their safety. As well as driving in a safe manner – which can be more difficult with the added weight of a pillion passenger – you need to make sure your motorbike insurance will cover your passenger in the event of an incident too.


If you do have an accident, your pillion passenger could be hurt and they may incur medical costs, and/or their belongings might be damaged. If the accident was your fault, you might be liable for those medical costs, and for repairing or replacing damaged property. By driving with motorbike insurance pillion cover, you protect both yourself and your pillion passenger against injury and losses.


Is pillion cover a legal requirement?


Whilst pillion cover isn’t legally required to carry a pillion passenger, it’s highly recommended. If you have an accident and you don’t have pillion cover, you could be left liable for your passenger’s medical costs and damages.


To legally carry pillion passengers, you must:


  • Have a full driving licence (it’s illegal to carry pillion passengers if you only have a provisional licence).
  • Only carry one passenger at a time.
  • Have a motorbike or moped that’s designed to carry passengers, and has a pillion seat and rear footrests.
  • Have helmets for yourself and your passenger that meet UK safety standards (unless either of you are exempt, such as if you or your passenger are Sikh and wear a turban).
  • Seat the passenger facing forwards.


Passengers can be any age, but they must be able to sit securely on the pillion seat and be able to reach the bike’s footrests.


Can your bike carry a passenger?


To legally carry a pillion passenger, your motorbike or moped must be designed to do so. It must have a pillion seat and rear footrests. Some bikes also feature handles or grab rails, although these aren’t mandatory.


Before carrying a pillion passenger, also check your bike’s handbook to understand what the maximum carrying capacity is so you don’t exceed it.


Rider responsibility


As the rider of the bike, you’re responsible for the safety of your pillion passenger and their behaviour. If your passenger misbehaves and causes an incident, you will be the one ultimately held responsible for it. Before starting a journey, it’s advisable to have a conversation with your passenger and run through some pre-ride checks.


  • Make sure your passenger has a helmet and appropriate clothing.
  • Show them how to sit properly as a pillion passenger, including facing forwards and using the footrests and any available handles.
  • Explain how the bike leans on corners.
  • Emphasise how they need to behave with care and respect.
  • Agree on a simple way for your passenger to signal they want to stop, such as a double tap on your right shoulder.


Compare motorbike insurance quotes with Asda Money


With Asda Money, you can compare insurance quotes from some of the UK’s top insurance providers in minutes to help you find the cover you need, at a price you’re happy with. The car insurance comparison service is provided by Vast Visibility Limited.

Top motorbike insurance FAQs

Can I carry a pillion passenger without pillion cover?

If you have an accident and you don’t have pillion cover, you may be left footing the bill for your passenger’s damages and medical costs.

What should a pillion wear?

A pillion passenger must wear a crash helmet that meets UK safety standards (unless they’re exempt from doing so). They should also wear appropriate motorcycle personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes a jacket, trousers, motorcycle boots and gloves.

What are the pillion laws in the UK?

Under UK law, you can only carry one pillion passenger on your motorbike or moped. And you can only do so if your bike is designed to – it must have a pillion seat and footrests. Your pillion passenger must face forwards, use the footrests and be able to sit comfortably on the pillion seat. They must wear a crash helmet that meets UK safety standards too. You can’t carry a pillion passenger if you only have a provisional licence.

What happens if I don't have pillion insurance?

If you have an accident that causes harm to your pillion rider, you could be liable to pay for their damages and/or medical costs, without being able to claim on your insurance.

Does carrying a pillion passenger increase insurance?

Many motorbike insurance policies include pillion cover as standard. If a policy doesn’t, you can ask for pillion cover to be added. In some cases you won’t be charged any extra, but some insurers will charge you more. Remember to shop around to find the best prices on motorbike insurance.


Can a pillion sit in front of the rider?

No. To be carried legally, a pillion passenger must sit behind the rider. They must also sit facing forwards on a dedicated pillion seat.

Does a pillion passenger have to wear a helmet?

Yes. A pillion passenger must wear a crash helmet that meets UK safety standards. The only exception to this is if they’re legally exempt from wearing a helmet, such as if they’re Sikh and wear a turban.

What age can you ride as a pillion passenger in the UK?

There is no legal age limit to ride as a pillion passenger in the UK. However, a pillion passenger must be able to sit safely on the pillion seat and reach the bike’s footrests.

What does exclude pillion cover mean?

Some motorbike insurance policies won’t include pillion cover as standard, meaning they exclude pillion cover. If you want to take out pillion cover, you’ll most likely be able to add it to a bike insurance policy – sometimes at no extra cost.


Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-motorcyclists-83-to-88

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