Whether you ride the sleek, Vincent Black Shadow or the Triumph TR6 Trophy, you know that classic motorcycles are more than a mode of transportation; they are works of art. While a Honda CBR250R is likely to decrease in value the moment you buy it, many classic motorcycles hold their value and even become more valuable over time. While this collectability can make it challenging to insure these bikes, it is important to get coverage that matches your bike’s worth in case something happens to it.
Classic Motorcycle Trivia
- “The Great Escape” took place during WWII, but the bike featured in the climactic chase scene was a 1961 model Triumph, disguised to look like a German R75.
- The classic Vincent Black Shadow got its name from the fact that frame, engine, and even the crank-case were painted shiny black.
- Many motorcycle manufacturers sprang up in the early 1900s. Only two survived the Great Depression: Indian and Harley-Davidson
How Is Vintage Motorcycle Insurance Different?
Perhaps you bought an old rusty Indian and spent your time, money and a lot of sweat restoring it to its former glory. Or maybe you have an old Triumph sitting at the back of a shed, and it just needs some care and restoration to make it road-worthy again. A bike that has been lovingly restored can dramatically increase in value, not only because of the parts and labor you put into it, but because it gains value on the market.
Vintage motorcycle insurance is different than standard motorcycle insurance in several ways. For example, this kind of coverage is often based on an “agreed value,” vs. a Kelley Blue Book value. The Kelley Blue Book assumes depreciation over time – which a new motorcycle bought off the lot would do. Since you have a restored bike, however, you are building value into it, so a different metric is needed for insurance purposes. Insuring a classic bike with standard motorcycle insurance could leave it significantly underinsured.
If you’re in an accident that damages your classic motorcycle, you will want to recover your bike’s actual value, not what it would be worth in the standard marketplace.
You may only have a classic motorcycle for show, and never ride it. If that is the case, and your motorcycle is kept in a secure, locked garage, your insurance risks are dramatically reduced. You will have less of a need for liability coverage, for example, since you won’t be out riding your vintage bike where you could potentially cause harm to another person or their property.
Do You Need Vintage Motorcycle Insurance?
If you have invested in a classic motorcycle, don’t skimp when it comes to insurance. Motorcycle insurance can be expensive, so many riders are tempted to leave the bike uninsured to save money. This is a risky decision. If you intend to ride the motorcycle at all, you could find yourself facing fines and increased insurance rates, even on your automobile insurance.
All states require riders maintain at least a minimum amount of liability insurance on their motorcycles. Depending on the state, you may be required to insure it for as little as $10,000 in property damage and $20,000 in injury insurance, or as much as $50,000 in property damage and $100,000 in injury insurance. If you get pulled over while operating an uninsured motorcycle, you could face hundreds of dollars in state fines, and will then have to insure the bike anyway.
Classic bikes can be much more difficult and expensive to repair than contemporary bikes. Many components are no longer manufactured. Those that are still in production are often produced only by a limited number of suppliers, so prices can be extremely high. Compared to facing thousands of dollars in repair costs, a monthly payment will likely be more manageable for you.
What Kinds of Classic Motorcycle Insurance Are Available?
Classic motorcyclists have a variety of types of coverage to choose from. Basic coverage protects against liability for property damage and injury. You can also get collision and comprehensive insurance to protect against theft, vandalism, collisions, or other disasters. The type and amount of coverage you need will depend on several factors, including whether you ride or lend out your bike, and other concerns typical of all motorcycle owners. Additionally, because your vintage motorcycle may have been rebuilt, retro-fitted, or otherwise improved, you may invested in custom parts to get it looking just right, and that investment should be protected.
Some of the types of coverage you may want include:
- Collision and comprehensive: Covers theft or damage to your motorcycle from accidents, severe weather, or a run-in with an object on the side of the road.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage: Covers you if another driver, who lacks sufficient insurance, is responsible for an accident in which you are injured, or your bike is damaged or totaled.
- Custom parts, equipment or accessory insurance: Covers custom parts and accessories if any custom parts or accessories you have added to your bike that improve its performance, utility, or appearance are damaged. The following are several types of custom equipment that may be protected under a custom parts and accessory policy:
- Radio and mounting hardware
- Sidecar (if attached during accident)
- Helmets, goggles, gloves, chaps, and other protective apparel
- Custom paint
- Custom exhaust
- Transport trailer (if attached during accident)
Where Can You Buy Classic Motorcycle Insurance?
Most of the time, a consumer’s first instinct is to look for motorcycle insurance online. However, it can be very difficult to get accurate quotes for custom, restored or classic motorcycles. Each of these bikes is unique, based on the type of bike, its age and whether it is fully restored.
There are insurance agencies who specialize in insuring motorcycles, both custom and contemporary. Typically these insurers employ agents who have a lot of experience evaluating risk for classic motorcycle owners, and understand local laws and driving hazards. Just make sure you're getting a few quotes before you buy - and you're evaluating the coverage, not just the price. Being underinsured can leave you holding the bag financially after an accident, and being overinsured can be a tremendous waste of cash in the end. Find an agent who can give you the information you need to make the right choices for your bottom line.