Nothing sounds like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. That distinctive, low chug seems to embody the essence of power, which is one reason the Harley is such a popular road bike. However, when the company started in 1901, the first prototype was a bicycle fitted with an engine - and a tomato can for a carburetor. Everybody has to start somewhere. Today, nearly 240,000 new Harleys hit the roads each year - making it one of the most popular bikes for American riders.
Unfortunately, there are major risks that motorcycle riders face. Accident rates for Harley and other motorcycle riders are 35% higher than for passenger car drivers. A 2009 Insurance Institute for Highway Loss Data Institute study showed that over half of fatal motorcycle accidents involved at least one other vehicle. Because of this, insurance becomes an important consideration. If you are a Harley rider, state law requires you to have motorcycle insurance on your machine.
The Sound of the Harley Davidson Hog
- The sound of the Harley motorcycle engine was so distinctive and integral to their product that Harley-Davidson filed for a “sound trademark” in 1994.
- Nine competitors opposed the application, arguing that many similar-style bikes used the same type of crankpin V-twin engine, which makes the sound.
- Harley litigated for six years, but finally withdrew their application. Nevertheless, Harley fans claim that nothing else sounds even close to a Harley-Davidson hog.
Do You Need Harley Davidson Insurance?
All states require that operators of street-legal vehicles, including cars, trucks and motorcycles, carry a minimum of personal liability insurance. Failure to insure your vehicle can lead to hefty fines, points on your driving record, and even higher premium rates when you finally insure the bike.
If you finance the purchase of your motorcycle through a bank or credit union, you will probably have to insure the bike for collision and comprehensive as well. Most lenders require that borrowers insure their vehicles in case of accident, theft, or fire. The creditor does not want you to end up owing them money for a loan where the collateral has been destroyed or stolen.
What else might you need to protect your investment and your financial wellbeing? And if you buy your bike outright, without a loan, do you really need extra coverage? Insurance can sometimes be pricey, especially if you have a less-than-stellar driving record. If this is the case, you might be tempted to get only the minimum liability insurance, leaving your bike uninsured. This might be a risky move to make.
If you are a victim of accident or other incident, such as theft, or if you cause an accident, you will face several financial risks. First of all, you may need to repair or replace your expensive motorcycle out of pocket. Second, if the accident was caused by someone who is uninsured, you will not be able to collect from that person’s insurance company. Finally, if you are at fault for an accident, you run the risk of being sued for damages without insurance to help pay for legal fees or judgments. These are all important considerations when deciding what insurance to buy, and how much is appropriate for your needs.
The Risks of Riding a Harley
If you ride a Harley-Davidson or any other brand of motorcycle, you are at a higher risk of being injured while on the road than other motorists. You have no solid metal frame, airbag, seat belt, or safety restraints to protect you, as drivers of luxury sedans and sport utility vehicles do. Even minor mishaps can be extremely dangerous when you are on the back of a motorcycle.
Another vehicle, a tree or even a tiny slip-up can lead to severe injury for a motorcyclist. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics in October 2011 that suggested riders of Harley-Davidsons and other street bikes are 25 times more likely to be killed in a collision than automobile passengers. Bikers are also five times as likely to be injured on the road.
Motorcycles are also much more nimble than other vehicles because they are smaller and more lightweight. This makes motorcycles more difficult to see on the road, especially when there is reduced visibility as there is on turns in the road, or even dusk, fog and rain.
Even the slightest tap from a heavier vehicle can send your Harley skidding or sliding. For these reasons, motorcycle operators should always be extremely careful, and should drive as if nobody knows they are there. All of this makes buying Harley-Davidson motorcycle insurance an important safety step before you plan a trip on the open road.
What Kinds of Motorcycle Insurance Can You Buy?
Harley bikers can find a number of different types of insurance coverage to protect themselves and their machines. Some policies cover you against injury, while others insure you in the event that your bike is damaged or stolen. The following sections discuss several types of insurance policies you can buy to protect yourself and your investment in the event of accident or loss.
- Comprehensive and collision: Comprehensive and collision coverage protect you financially if your bike is damaged or stolen. You are insured up to a limit against the cost of repairing or replacing the bike if you lay it down on the road, or there’s an object or a deer on the highway you can’t avoid. Again, the replacement amount is limited to the amount covered in the policy. Most companies allow you to select the amount of your deductible. If you decide you wish to pay less up front, you will have to pay out more as a deductible when it comes time to file a claim. Comprehensive insurance covers all non-collision damage, such as vandalism, theft, or fire. Collision insurance comes into play if you collide with a vehicle, a lamppost, or other inanimate object.
- Liability insurance: Liability insurance protects you against your liability risks in an accident that is your fault. It comes in two types: Bodily injury and property damage liability. Bodily injury insurance covers hospital and other associated medical costs that you would normally have to pay after injuring a passenger on your bike, a pedestrian, or another motorist. Property damage liability insures you against costs that you would potentially be liable for after damaging someone else’s property or vehicle. Most insurers let you choose how much liability coverage you want. As usual, higher liability amounts cost more up front, but provide greater protection in the case of a serious accident.
- Medical payment insurance: If you want to be covered for medical treatment or a hospital stay yourself after a mishap involving your Harley-Davidson, medical payment insurance is the policy for you. This coverage pays out whether or not you were at fault. Normally, it only covers medical treatments that occur within a certain amount of time (often three years) after the date of the incident. The payout is usually limited to a certain dollar amount, as well.
- Custom parts and equipment or accessory insurance: If you have done any amount of customization to your bike, it might be worthwhile to consider custom parts and equipment/accessory insurance. This type of coverage protects your investment in any additions or accessories you have added to your bike beyond the costs of the original manufacture equipment. Such additions include any or all items that improve the bike’s performance, utility, or appearance. These may include:
- A custom paint job
- Custom exhaust equipment
- Motorcycle trailer, if attached at the time of the accident
- Radio or communications gear, plus mounting hardware
- Sidecar, if attached at the time of the incident
- Protective clothing: helmets, goggles, gloves, chaps
How to Find the Right Harley Davidson Motorcycle Insurance for You
Searching for Harley insurance could be a multi-pronged approach. When you're considering purchasing a new Harley, check out insurance rates first and factor that into your purchasing budget. There are many online resources that can provide quotes. You may also be able to comparison shop by calling agencies near your home. Additionally, your Harley dealer may have some insights for you on how to cover your bike, and if you finance the purchase through a lending agency, they may automatically require you to carry certain coverages, like comprehensive and collision, for the life of the loan.
While many people start by shopping for quotes online, they typically want a real person to talk to about their insurance needs. Working with an agent may be the easiest way to make sure you are getting the actual coverage you need without paying too much.