The Right way to Insure a Motorcycle

Motorcycle Only two wheels

The open road should be the only thing on your mind when you’re on your bike this summer. Independent insurance agents understand that anything can happen and can answer questions you may have about protecting your bike, yourself and anyone else. 

Here are a few things to consider when adding or renewing your motorcycle insurance.

How to Insure a Motorcycle

After you’ve found the perfect motorcycle to fit your needs and lifestyle, you have to make sure you have the right insurance. A lot of insurance companies offer motorcycle insurance, with most policies including or offering some form of the following types of basic coverage.

  • Liability coverage: If you are found to be at fault for an accident, you can be held financially responsible for property damage or injuries that you caused. Motorcycle insurance typically provides coverage for both bodily injury liability (injuries to someone else) and property damage liability (damage to someone else’s property). Liability insurance does not cover you or your motorcycle. 
  • Motorcycle medical payments: This coverage can help you pay for some medical costs if you or anyone riding on your motorcycle is injured in an accident.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage pays for damage to your bike if you collide with another vehicle or something else such as a parked vehicle, guardrail, or fence, or if someone hits your parked motorcycle. Most policies provide coverage up to the book value of the motorcycle before the loss occurred after you pay your collision deductible. 
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage pays for damage or loss to your motorcycle caused by something other than a collision such as theft, fire, vandalism, windstorm, or hitting an animal. Most policies provide coverage up to the book value of the motorcycle before the loss occurred after you pay your comprehensive deductible. 
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverageThese provide coverage for both bodily injury and property damage to you or a guest or family member riding your bike caused by another driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured motorist) or who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the cost of damages (underinsured). 

All of these coverage areas are subject to policy limits and deductibles. 

Most insurance companies offer some optional motorcycle insurance coverage including optional equipment coverage (for after-market custom parts), lease/loan gap coverage, guest passenger liability, towing and labor, and rental reimbursement coverage.


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Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance?

In its most basic sense, motorcycle insurance helps you pay for property damage and medical costs if you cause an accident while driving your motorcycle, or if your bike is stolen or damaged in some other way. 

That alone is reason enough to purchase motorcycle insurance. If you cause an accident and don’t have coverage, you’d still be required to pay for any injuries you cause or other vehicles or property that you damaged. If you’re sued, the cost to defend yourself alone is likely insurmountable, and that’s before any financial settlements or court-ordered judgments you could be required to pay. 

Aside from protecting your own assets and being able to help people who you’ve harmed, motorcycle insurance is necessary because most states require motorcycle owners to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance or face fines or other consequences. 

Just like with auto insurance, some types of coverage are required for motorcyclists, while others are optional. Most states require motorcycle owners to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, to cover bodily injury and property damage costs caused to other people involved in an accident. In some states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required. The minimum coverage required for motorcycles is typically the same as what is required for personal vehicles. 

Here are some of the circumstances in which you need to purchase motorcycle insurance: 

  • When you obtain your learners permit. If your state requires you to get motorcycle insurance in order to get your motorcycle license, then you’ll likely need insurance to get the learners permit. If you’re a beginner to motorcycle driving, you might only need your state issued driver’s license, which requires you to have some liability coverage. 
  • When you purchase and finance a motorcycle. Just like with car insurance, if you take out a loan to purchase your motorcycle, your lender will require you to purchase motorcycle insurance in order to protect their interest in your bike. 
  • When you register your motorcycle. Most states require proof of insurance before allowing you to register your motorcycle. In order to be legally driven on public roads, your motorcycle must be registered with your state. 
  • When you live in a state that requires motorcycle insurance. 46 states in the U.S. require motorcycle insurance, with the exceptions being Florida, New Hampshire, Washington, and Montana. Some states, like Iowa, do not require insurance per se to operate a motorcycle, but will request proof of insurance or financial responsibility (you have the means to pay for damages you cause) after an accident.
  • When you store your motorcycle. While motorcycling may be seasonal where you live, keeping continuous coverage is actually more beneficial than cancelling your policy when it’s in storage. Your insurance will continue to protect your bike from the costs of damage while its in storage. 

How Much is Motorcycle Insurance?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle insurance premiums vary based on a variety of factors including:

  • Your age and driving record
  • Your credit score
  • Where you live
  • Your motorcycle’s make, model, and horsepower
  • Whether your motorcycle has any custom components
  • The age of your motorcycle
  • How many miles you drive your motorcycle in a given year
  • Where you typically drive your motorcycle
  • Where you store your motorcycle when it is not in use

Discounts might be available for those with more than one motorcycle, or those who belong to a motorcycle organization. Your experience riding a motorcycle and graduating from a training course can give you immediate discounts. In addition, many insurance companies offer mature rider discounts.

In some northern states, motorcyclists are also offered “lay-up” policies, in which coverage can be suspended during winter months; however, be aware, some cost-savings may not be worth incurring the risk of a loss that is not covered. You may save $75 on a premium but incur a five-figure loss. For instance, if your bike is stored in your garage during the layup period, someone steals it and runs over another person, and the injured person sues you, you would more than likely have no coverage with a lay-up endorsement.

Can You Get Motorcycle Insurance Without a Motorcycle License? 

Driving a car and riding a motorcycle require different skills and knowledge. Although licensing regulations vary among states, every state requires a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver's license in order to legally drive the motorcycle on public roads. 

You don't technically need a motorcycle license to own, register, or get insurance for a motorcycle, but getting insurance without a license will likely be difficult. What’s more, you do need to have insurance in order to register your motorcycle. 

So yes, you can technically own a motorcycle and an insurance policy for it without a motorcycle license. But you cannot legally drive a motorcycle in any state without a license, so having all three—a license, proper registration, and insurance—is really the only way to go. 

Motorcycle Insurance Near You

A local independent insurance agent can help you find motorcycle insurance, as well as insurance for your car, house, boat, and any other items you need to cover. Independent agents aren’t tied to one insurance company, so they can get you multiple quotes for coverage and you can choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.

Start your search now for an agent in your city.

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