A motorized bicycle is a hybrid vehicle that has bicycle pedals as well as a motor, which can either power the vehicle alone, or can assist the rider while pedaling. The engines can have several forms: 2- or 4-stroke gas or diesel, electric, or even steam-powered.
If you recently bought or are considering buying a motorized bike, you might be wondering whether such a vehicle needs to be insured, and what kinds of insurance are available. This article will help you understand what coverage you need to be protected and keep your finances safe.
Because a motorized bike is a powered bicycle, it has a higher rate of speed than a traditional bike. Some motorized bikes can achieve a top speed of 30 mph. This means that an accident with a motorized bike can result in more severe injuries than accidents involving a standard pedal bike.
Most people assume that bicycle and motorized bike accidents usually involve a car or truck, and that the operator of the larger vehicle is usually responsible. This is not always the case, however. Below are some statistics on bicycles and motorized bikes that you might find surprising:
Another thing operators should keep in mind is that motorized bikes, like regular bicycles and motorcycles, can be difficult for other motorists to see. In fact, a motorized bicyclist may be practically invisible on the road. Moreover, the vehicle’s increased speed gives other motorists even less time to react should an “invisible” motorized bike suddenly appear in front of them.
Therefore, it is a good idea to always wear protective headgear and other safety clothing when operating a motorized bike. It is also wise to mount an orange or reflective flag on the bike, and to mount reflectors or even lights on the frame to give other vehicles as much warning as possible.
Motorized bikes face many of the same kinds of risks that traditional motorcycles or bicycles face. For example, motorized bikes have a higher risk of theft than a standard motorcycle because they are much lighter, and often are not even operated by a key. This makes them easier for a thief to lift into the back of a pick-up truck or trailer, or for a joyrider to hop onto the seat and chug away too fast for the owner to catch on foot.
Moreover, the motor on the motorized bike can make the vehicle more of a target than a standard bicycle. The motor and transmission increase the value of the bike, without doing much to increase the difficulty of theft.
In many jurisdictions, “human-powered" bicycles are usually covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy and are protected against liability and physical damage. However, by adding a motor (of any size) to the bike, you convert it into a "motorized vehicle" in the eyes of the insurance company. This means it is excluded under most renter’s insurance or homeowner’s policies.
Some of the types of motorized bike insurance you should consider if you own or are considering buying a motorized bike are listed in the following sections.
Insurance laws vary from state to state. Therefore, you should take the time to find out what laws are in place in your state before buying motorized bike insurance and operating a motorized bicycle. For example, some states consider any vehicle that moves faster than 21 miles per hour to be a motor vehicle, and thus require the operator to have a driver’s license.
The non-uniformity of motorized bike laws is one reason it is wise to consult a local, independent insurance agent who knows the laws of your state and municipality. These agents are knowledgeable and experienced, and can help you craft a policy that measures up to both state requirements and your individual needs.