Michael Simms, Registered Nurse

Planning an adventure holiday? Like the feel of the wind at your back? Or are you looking for a cheap and easy way to get about?

Renting a moped, scooter or motorbike to take in the sights of overseas countries sounds like a lot of fun and for many travellers it is. But for some, this is where their holiday can become a nightmare.

Check out our optional protection for motorcycle/moped riding if you plan on riding a motorcycle or moped while on holidays.

Motorcycles and mopeds can be enjoyable on the road, but they also carry a significant risk of injury. Inexperienced riders are a major cause of motorcycle accidents. Lack of experience, risk-taking behaviour and unfamiliarity with local conditions play a large part as contributing factors when it comes to accidents and injuries sustained by many travellers.

motorcycle riding

Can I rent a moped or motorcycle on holidays?

It can be easy to rent a scooter or motorbike in many Southeast Asian countries - but that doesn't mean you should! Especially if you are not a seasoned rider.

There are many less-than-reputable hire companies who will happily rent you a bike. With little more than a cursory glance at some ID and the signing of some paperwork, in return you receive the keys, a helmet, and a friendly wave goodbye as you set off down the road. 

What many do not count on are the thousands of other riders sharing the same space, poor road conditions and the lack of obvious traffic laws or road rules. 

For many locals, stop signs, traffic lights and indicators are little more than decorative distractions that are often ignored.

Is it safe riding a motorcycle or moped overseas?

This depends on where you're planning to rent and ride! It can be a higher risk activity in some countries, particularly in Southeast Asia. If you've never ridden before, trying for the first time while on holidays may not be a smart move.

In Bali alone, there are estimated to be up to three road deaths per day - usually related to motorbike or scooter accidents. 

In Thailand, the figures are alarmingly high with an average of 80 deaths per day, of which 74% of these related to motorbikes. Too often, we end up dealing with many claims related to these types of scenarios.

If you are lucky, you may just end up with a minor injury or scrape. If you are not so lucky, you can wind up sustaining serious, debilitating or life-threatening injuries. 

Unfortunately, the latter is an all too common statistic we deal with in many overseas countries. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia or Vietnam are NOT places to decide that you want to start learning to ride. Even experienced riders take to the roads in these places with a healthy degree of trepidation.

southeast asia

What are common injuries from motorcycle or moped riding?

The most common serious injuries are head, orthopaedic (bones) and spinal injuries

A helmet will offer a degree of protection but is merely a cushion at best.

In high impact accidents, brain injuries are caused by rapid deceleration of the head causing the brain to violently smash into the inside of the skull.  For those that survive, it may be a simple concussion but at the high end of the injury spectrum, it can cause permanent loss of cognitive functions.

Orthopaedic injuries include fractures of the limbs and pelvis, many of which need immediate operative management far away from your home.

Spinal and neck injuries can cause permanent paralysis - a devastating outcome for both you and your loved ones. Please consider wearing all of the proper protective gear and body armour when you choose to ride a motorcycle or moped.

Lesser but still potentially significant injuries can include internal injuries and bleeding (most commonly from striking the handlebars or whatever other objects you might hit), groin injuries (striking the petrol tank) and eye injuries from foreign bodies such as stones or insects (use your visor or wear sunglasses!).

motorcycle riding in asia

Does travel insurance cover riding a moped or motorcycle?  

Make sure you have taken out the appropriate policy and have included moped/motorcycle cover before you depart on your trip. This cover is often an additional option on your policy and certain conditions need to be met. 

Learn more about our optional Motorcycle/Moped Cover here

To be protected whilst travelling – whether as a driver or passenger on a moped or motorcycle – you’ll need to choose this additional cover and pay the extra premium. 

With our Direct Cover-More policies, this optional cover is only in force you've included it in your policy (for an extra premium) and:

  • Whilst in control of a motorcycle or moped you hold a valid Australian motorcycle licence or Australian motor vehicle driver licence;
  • You hold a licence valid in the relevant country;
  • Whilst you are a pillion passenger, the driver holds a licence valid in the relevant country;
  • The engine capacity is 200cc or less;
  • You are wearing a helmet;
  • You are not participating in a professional capacity; and
  • You are not racing.

Please keep in mind that no cover will apply for personal liability. This means you are responsible to pay costs associated with damage to the motorcycle, moped or property or injury to another person.

Be sure to always check with your travel insurer regarding details about motorcycle and moped cover. 

For further reading, I recommend checking out the following:

Tip: It's a good idea to check with the relevant embassy or consult to find the most up-to-date information regarding driving requirements in the countries you're planning to visit. 


Michael Simms is a Registered Nurse who combines his passion for helping people with his love of travel as part of his role at Cover-More. From time to time you'll find Michael jetting off anywhere in the world to rescue a customer of ours and bring them home safely. This self-confessed travel junkie considers his job to be the best in the world. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.