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Motorcycle rider riding Harley Davidson motorcycle down the interstate

Motorcycle Insurance: Everything You Need to Know 

Summary

The number of motorcycles on US roads has steadily increased over the last two decades. With so many cruisers, choppers, and dirt bikes out there, knowing what kind of insurance you need is important.

  • Almost every state requires some form of insurance and registration for motorcycles.
  • The size, style, and power of your bike will factor into your rates.
  • Pay close attention to exclusions.

The number of motorcycles on the road in the U.S. has grown steadily over the last 20 years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number of on-road motorcycles doubled between 2002 to 2021, from 4.3 million to 8.6 million during the period.

The report goes on to note that two classifications of on-road bikes are probably underrepresented in the data. “Choppers,” which are largely custom-built motorcycles, are not generally identifiable by Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), so the data frequently misses them. Scooters sometimes have engines that are smaller than the required threshold for some states’ registration requirements and are therefore also left out of the data.

With so many sizes and styles of two-wheeled fun available, insuring your motorcycle or scooter can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know about motorcycle coverage — from types and costs to common exclusions.

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What Are Motorcycle Insurance Requirements?

Almost every state requires some form of insurance coverage if you ride a motorcycle. Florida is the only state that does not require any proof of insurance coverage; you are only required to register your motorcycle with the state.

If you financed your motorcycle, your lender will likely require you to have full insurance coverage for your bike. Even if you are not required to have coverage, it’s a good idea to have insurance. It could save you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses if you get into an accident.

What Does Motorcycle Insurance Cover?

Just like cars, there are different types of motorcycle insurance coverage. Some forms of motorcycle insurance cover repairs if you are in a collision with another vehicle, while others cover medical liability and injuries if you are at fault in an accident. Here’s a breakdown of each type:

  1. Collision coverage pays for damage to your motorcycle if you’re in an accident.
  2. Comprehensive coverage pays for repair or replacement if your motorcycle is damaged by something other than a vehicle accident (such as fire, theft or weather damage like a hailstorm).
  3. Liability coverage can include bodily injury or property damage. This insurance pays for things like the medical bills of another motorist if you’re at fault in an accident or repair property if you damage it.
  4. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will pay for damages if another driver is at fault in an accident but doesn’t have insurance — or if their insurance coverage is inadequate. Not all states require this coverage, but some do, and it’s good protection to have.

What Are Common Motorcycle Insurance Coverage Exclusions?

Read your motorcycle policy carefully, because while some types of exclusions are common sense, others could surprise you. For instance, it makes sense that if you don’t take care of your bike, the resulting damage is unlikely to be covered. The same goes for theft if you left the bike running outside with the keys in the ignition. It’s best to take common sense precautions with your motorcycle.

However, other exclusions are not as readily apparent. Many common motorcycle insurance carriers exclude coverage for accidents that happen during an “organized riding activity.” Don’t assume this just means a race day at the track; an “organized ride” could be a group of friends out on a weekend ride.

Knowing the exclusions on your motorcycle policy is very important, so read your policy carefully. Frequently, items that are excluded in a basic policy can be added — and having that additional coverage could save you thousands of dollars in the event your bike is lost or damaged.

How Much Does Motorcycle Insurance Cost?

The cost of your motorcycle policy will be based on a number of different data points, just like your car insurance. Your driving record is an important one, and it will figure prominently in the cost of your premium. Another factor is where you live. Similar to car insurance, if you live in an area with higher crime rates, you’ll pay more for insurance.

Insurance companies will also take into account how much of the year you’ll likely be out riding your motorcycle. This means that states with snow on the ground for part of the year could have lower motorcycle insurance rates than states with warm, sunny weather that allows for riding year-round. California has the nation’s most expensive motorcycle insurance premiums, because, generally speaking, you can ride your motorcycle year-round there thanks to the abundant sunshine and little rain.

Your age, driving experience and the type of motorcycle you own are other factors that will figure into your premium. Bigger motorcycles with larger engines are more expensive to insure because those engines are more powerful.

The average annual cost of motorcycle insurance in the U.S. is $702 per year, according to the Motorcycle Legal Foundation. However, since so many factors go into premiums you could end up paying more (or much less).

How to Save Money on a Motorcycle Insurance Policy

There are ways to save money on your motorcycle insurance, such as bundling. If you have multiple policies with one insurer, adding another “line” or vehicle policy could save you money on your premium. Not all insurance companies offer motorcycle insurance coverage, so if you are considering buying a motorcycle, ask your agent if they offer motorcycle policies.

You can also sometimes save money by successfully completing a motorcycle safety course. Talk to your agent or connect with a Guaranteed Rate Expert Agent today to learn about other ways to potentially save.

Are There Extra Coverage Options for Motorcycle Insurance?

Yes! Like other forms of insurance, your standard policy can be augmented with additional coverage options so that your insurance meets all of your needs. Here are some of them:

Roadside Assistance 

Whether it’s an unexpected breakdown or you run out of gas, roadside assistance can be a lifesaver. It’s usually fairly inexpensive coverage to add on to your policy. Some insurance companies even include roadside help as part of their basic insurance offering.

Accessories Coverage

Whatever your riding style, there are probably accessories to match. If you want to go on camping trips, there’s gear for your bike. Long trips mean luggage racks, side cases, saddlebags and more. 

A mounted GPS is an accessory that will keep you from getting lost (unless you want to be). Radios and CBs are added equipment, and even your helmet can be considered an accessory. Most motorcycle insurance policies either do not cover accessories, or there’s a set dollar limit as to how much accessory cost will be covered in the event of damage.

Read through your motorcycle policy and find out what your accessory coverage limit is — or if accessories are excluded completely. Then look at what you’ve added to the stock version of your bike and add up the cost. That’s how much you’d be responsible for covering out-of-pocket in the case of loss or damage, and it should be the number you are thinking of when you add accessories to your policy.

Accessories coverage could end up saving you a considerable amount of money, and it’s usually inexpensive to add.

Are My Motorcycle’s Custom Parts Covered by Insurance?

Whether you’re adding skid plates to your adventure bike or high handlebars to your chopper, customizing a motorcycle is part of the fun for many owners. But when you modify your motorcycle, are those customized parts covered by insurance?

The short answer is that they are probably not covered. In fact, the more customized your bike is, the harder it will be to insure. Here’s why.

Insurance companies use databases to analyze the motorcycle that you are trying to insure. This can include: 

  • how frequently repairs are needed on certain makes and models
  • how available parts are
  • how easy it is to make repairs, and
  • how frequently similar bikes are lost or stolen

An extensively customized bike won’t match any of the available data, making it hard for an insurer to calculate the actual risk of insuring such a motorcycle. If you have a custom motorcycle, the best way to get a specialized quote for custom motorcycle insurance is to speak to an insurance agent. You can connect with an Expert Insurance Agent here.

Do I Still Need Motorcycle Insurance If I Don’t Ride in the Winter?

One way you could save money on your motorcycle insurance is to pause portions of your coverage when your bike is stored in the winter. 

This is sometimes called a “lay-up,” “laid-up,” or “motorcycle storage” insurance policy. This type of coverage suspends your insurance policy for accidents and events that might happen while you are riding your motorcycle, and it maintains the coverage for things such as damage from a house fire or a weather event.

However, it’s important to really know yourself well if you decide to go with the option of a lay-up policy. Most winters have a few unseasonably warm days. If the roads are dry and it’s sunny out, will you be able to resist going out for a ride? 

It’s important to realize that if you choose to go with a motorcycle storage policy, you are effectively suspending your collision insurance. If you’re out riding and are in an accident, it would be treated as though you weren’t covered by insurance at all.

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The Bottom Line

Riding a motorcycle can be a fun way to explore the back roads and scenic beauty of your state on a summer day. However, motorcycles also come with risks. 

Make sure that you have the right insurance coverage for your bike. Options like roadside assistance can help out when something unexpected comes up while you’re out on the road — and turn what could have been a trip-ruiner into just another good story. Ride safe!

Disclaimer: 

Savings, if any, vary based on the consumer’s profile and other factors. Contact your insurance agent for more information. Restrictions apply.

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