Hiring quad bikes, scooters and motorcycles abroad

Hiring a scooter or motorcycle can be a great way to get around when you’re on holiday. If you’re looking for off-road thrills a quad bike might be just up your street. Whatever type of vehicle you’re thinking of hiring it’s important to make sure you use a reputable firm so you know the scooter or bike is safe and well maintained. If you use an unregistered rental firm and have an accident you might well find your travel insurance won’t cover you.

If you’re thinking of hiring a motorised bike or scooter it’s worth looking up the country you’re visiting on the government’s foreign travel advice website as this often has information on hiring vehicles as well as on how safe the roads are.

Scooters and motorcycles

Depending on where you go you might need a full driving licence to hire a scooter or moped. And if you want to hire a motorbike or big scooter make sure you take your motorbike licence with you.

If you have motorcycle insurance make sure it covers you for hiring a bike abroad. If you don’t then you need to make sure your travel insurance covers you for renting a motorbike or scooter – most policies don’t. If your travel insurance doesn’t cover you then if you have an accident and are injured you will have to pay for all your medical expenses which could run into thousands of pounds.

Hire companies may offer you their own insurance but this is usually only for third party insurance to cover the cost of damage to another vehicle and will not cover any medical bills you incur if you have an accident.

Other things to do if you plan to hire a scooter or motorcycle include:

  • Ask the rental firm what safety checks they’ve carried out on the bikes. Check the brakes and tyres before leaving the premises.
  • Wearing a helmet is essential whether you’re driving or a passenger. Check the helmet you’re given is not damaged. In some countries it’s illegal not to wear a helmet and if you have an accident and are not wearing a helmet you will invalidate your travel insurance.
  • Make sure you wear protective clothing. Reflective or bright coloured clothing will make you more visible. Padded clothing will protect you if you have a crash and gloves and boots will protect your hands and feet.
  • Never hand over your passport as a guarantee against returning a motorcycle or scooter.

For general advice on driving abroad see our guide.

Quad bikes

Quad biking can be great fun but it is classed as an extreme sport and can be very dangerous. There have been a number of very serious and in some cases fatal accidents abroad where people have hired these bikes to get around, often on main roads, despite having little training on how to handle them and not wearing helmets or protective clothing.

This has prompted the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and others to recommend holidaymakers only use quad bikes off-road on excursions booked through reputable agencies which follow appropriate health and safety guidelines and offer some training.

If you decide to hire a bike independently make sure you have some training first on how to handle the machine, don’t drive on main roads and only hire from a reputable firm.

You will need to take out special travel insurance if you plan to go quad biking as most travel insurance policies specifically exclude this cover.

Safer Tourism checklist Quad bikes

ABTA has produced a short video with tips on how to stay safe.