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Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is available in a wide selection of coverages and rates.

Motorcycle insurance is necesssary no matter what type of bike is being used. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Motorcycle insurance is necesssary no matter what type of bike is being used.

Motorcycle Insurance

The number of motorcyclist deaths and injuries that occur annually emphasizes the importance of motorcycle insurance. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, there were approximately 4,810 motorcyclists killed in 2006. During that same year, 88,000 individuals riding motorcycles were injured. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 5,037 people motorcyclists died from crashes in 2007, indicating an increase from the previous year. As motorcycle accident deaths and injuries increase, more motorcyclists may seek better insurance. Fortunately, there are more options for motorcycle insurance today than were available in the past. In the current market, motorcyclists can obtain various levels of insurance. In addition, motorcycle insurance policies sometimes cover other types of vehicles, such as scooters and mopeds. While motorcycle insurance can be costly, there are a few ways to save.

Levels of Motorcycle Insurance

The Insurance Information Institute identifies several levels of motorcycle insurance coverage:

  • Liability coverage only protects people a motorcyclist hurts during an accident. It doesn't protect the motorcyclist or the motorcycle. In some cases, liability may protect any passenger, but passenger coverage varies from state to state.
  • Collision covers the motorcycle in the event of an accident. Typically, this coverage has a deductible that must be met before the insurance company pays.
  • Comprehensive insurance covers damage to a motorcycle caused by events other than collision, such as weather or fires.
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage covers damage to the bike and the motorcyclist if an uninsured or underinsured driver causes damage or injury.

Most insurance only covers the book value of the motorcycle, not its original purchase price, and it doesn't cover customizing or aftermarket upgrades.

Buying Motorcycle Insurance

Buying motorcycle insurance is very similar to buying car insurance. In fact, many car insurance providers also sell motorcycle insurance. As with car insurance, the best option for keeping premiums down is to maintain an accident-free driving record for motorcycle and closed-vehicle driving.

When comparing insurance rates, motorcyclists should inquire about opportunities for discounted premiums. Some insurance companies provide discounts for members of a recognized motorcycle organization. Motorcyclists living in colder climates may have the option to purchase a lay-up policy, which provides coverage during warm months, but ceases coverage in the winter. Some motorcyclists get discounts by taking and passing an approved safety course. For example, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers various safety courses for riders, from novice to advanced motorcyclists.

The type of bike can also affect insurance rates. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that there has been an increase in the number of deaths for motorcyclists with larger engines. In addition, statistics suggest that supersport bikes are more likely to be stolen and that these bikes have the highest overall collision losses during models years 2002-2006. Consequently, some insurers may charge a higher premium for a larger engine or a supersport bike.

Vehicles Covered by Motorcycle Insurance

Insurance is available for all types of street legal motorcycles, including most scooters and some mopeds. Scooters have a chair-like riding position with a step-through design and floorboard. There are no foot controls. Scooter engines range in size from 400cc to 600cc. A moped has a low-powered motor assisted by foot pedals. Each state establishes what size of scooter or moped requires the same type of insurance coverage as motorcycles.

Buying Liability Insurance

Most states require liability insurance for anyone riding a motorcycle, scooter or moped on the street. Since requirements vary from one state to the next, it is important to check individual state requirements before purchasing insurance. For example, in Texas, motorcyclists must carry minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. In California, the minimum bodily injury coverage must be $15,000 per person and $30,000 for all injuries in a particular accident. Motorcyclists can add extra liability coverage, which is a good idea for newer, inexperienced riders. Extra coverage protects motorcyclists against costly litigation in the event of an accident. Motorcyclists who choose not to wear a helmet should consider personal injury protection coverage, since head injuries can be very costly. Finally, motorcyclists who carry passengers should purchase additional rider liability insurance.

Motorcycles and Helmets

Motorcyclists in certain states may need to purchase medical insurance, if they choose to ride without a helmet. Specifically, in the states of Florida and Kentucky, motorcyclists 21 years of age and older may opt to not to wear a helmet as long as they can prove that they have medical insurance.

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