A chopper is a motorcycle that has been “chopped” or modified from its original shape and design. Choppers usually have elongated front forks and a lowered back end caused by a lack of rear suspension. If you own a chopper, you may wonder how you insure it, and whether you need a regular motorcycle insurance policy or specialized chopper insurance.
Chopper insurance is not the same as standard motorcycle insurance. Chopper owners have different needs because their bikes have been modified considerably from factory standard. In fact, it is sometimes difficult to place value on a chopper as custom-made, one-of-a-kind vehicles. Sometimes they are not factory-built at all, but are assembled from specialty kits.
Owners and insurance companies cannot simply consult a blue book to determine how much the bike is worth. Such price inconsistencies make it difficult for some owners to register their bikes with the state, and this in turn makes them difficult to insure. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your chopper independently appraised for its real value.
Because of the modifications done to the bike, your state may require that you have your chopper inspected by the Department of Transportation or Motor Vehicles Bureau. Such inspections may include passing a safety test every year or two, which can potentially affect your ability to insure the bike.
Because of the difficulty determining value, some insurance companies refuse to offer custom chopper insurance. This may mean you have to shop around and consult a variety of insurance carriers before you find one that will write you a policy.
Moreover, choppers are difficult to insure because they often have extremely high replacement costs, due to the fact that they have a lot of added custom features, high quality materials and added labor costs. For example, a custom chopper can easily cost twice the amount of a brand new, top-of-the-line Harley-Davidson. Depending on the level of customization, that difference can be even higher. Therefore, insurance companies view such an investment as a high-risk policy, and may refuse to cover such a vehicle.
It is a good idea to consult an independent insurance agent for chopper coverage. An independent agent works with multiple companies and can find the most appropriate coverage for each policyholder. Instead of spending hours calling around yourself, let an independent agent do the legwork for you.
If you plan to finance your chopper, the bank will almost likely require that you carry full coverage on the vehicle to protect their investment from damage or theft.
Most states require a minimum amount of liability coverage for all motorcycle riders to cover your legal responsibility. Some carriers offer riders coverage for liability only. This type of policy covers you in the event of an accident that causes damage or injury to pedestrians, other vehicles or your passengers. However, it does not cover damage to your customized bike at all, and all repairs to your chopper must come out of your own pocket.
Comprehensive and collision insurance covers your bike in the case of damage, theft, or collision. If your chopper is less than 25 years old, and the manufacture is listed in the NADA appraisal guide, it may be eligible for up to $50,000 in “agreed value” and custom parts and equipment (CPE) coverage. To qualify, you will need to provide itemized receipts and submit to an underwriting inspection. The NADA guides are a series of familiar yellow and blue guidebooks that have been providing motorcycle valuations since 1933.
However, some custom bikes are not eligible for comprehensive insurance. These include kit or non-factory built bikes, rebuilt or retitled bikes, bikes whose manufacturer is not listed in the NADA guide, bikes with a state-assigned VIN, or bikes on which the original frame has been replaced.
There are a number of ways to save on chopper insurance, including the following:
Although chopper insurance is sometimes difficult to acquire, and is often more expensive than traditional motorcycle coverage, these suggestions can help you save some money while still protecting your investment if you have an accident or your bike is stolen.
In July 2012, the Trusted Choice Chopper was introduced in Alexandria, VA by renowned chopper designer Paul Teutul, Sr. Teutul is the owner of Orange County Choppers, and is the star of the Discovery Channel television series, “American Chopper.” It started touring the country, with all proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Whatever kind of custom bike you’re riding, whether it is a basic “bobber,” a stripped down, no-nonsense “Sucker Punch Sally,” a classic British BSA or Triumph chopper, you can find the right insurance coverage by contacting a local independent insurance agent who can do the legwork for you.