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A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

Added April 30, 2020
Group of motorcycle riders on a road

What is motorcycle insurance?

Your motorcycle isn't just a mode of transportation; it's an expression of who you are. Anyone who's been through a painful breakup knows how hard it is to lose expression of who you are. And while there's no breakup insurance, there is Motorcycle insurance. That way, if something happens to your baby, you may not have to lose it 100%.

How Is Your Motorcycle Insurance Calculated?

Anyone who has a history of riding safely is likely to get a good deal on their motorcycle insurance. A safe driving record will have a positive impact on your insurance rates. There are other factors as well, like age and gender.

-The motorcycle you ride:

Everyone's bike is "priceless," but they don't all cost the same. After all, a collectible isn't worth the same as a piece of junk (no matter how much you love it). An older bike with a lot of power that you use often presents a different risk from the highly valued chopper sitting pretty in your garage. So, value and power are two significant factors. There are also probably things you love about your bike, so it's good that your insurance company cares about them too.

  • Value

Premiums are higher for more expensive bikes simply because they cost more to replace or repair. Although that cost is worth it when it comes to something you love, keep in mind, though, that just because you own an inexpensive bike doesn't mean your premiums will be low since insurance also covers damage you cause to others. Remember that bike (or car, etc.) that you may hit is somebody else's baby.

  • Power

Motorcycles with larger engines can cost more to insure. If you upgrade your engine to something more substantial, you should inform your insurer. You're likely to pay higher premiums, but not reporting the upgrade may invalidate your policy. And, hey, an opportunity to brag.

-Where you reside:

Simply put, living in an area with more recorded claims activity and incidents of theft will mean higher premiums.

-Your driving record:

An incident where you were not at fault, however, may count as a strike against you. Just a year or more without a claim can make a huge difference. Additionally, completing a qualifying defensive driving course can save you money as well.

-Type of coverage:

The more your insurance covers, the more it will cost. So, if the coverage is only for injuries or property damage you or another rider causes to someone else, it's going to cost less. That said, you're also going to end up exposing yourself and your bike to risk.

-Who else is insured to ride:

If you add someone with less experience to your policy, expect your policy to go up in cost. The “expect your policy to go up” is going to be true most of the time, because not only was a rider added, but they have less experience. However, if you add a rider with more riding experience, you’re still adding another risk, so you definitely shouldn’t expect the policy premium to go down.

What are motorcycle insurance requirements?

In most states, riding a bike is just like driving a car. So expect to pay for certain types of insurance, including, in some cases, coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured parties. The bank that finances your purchase may also require that you get collision or comprehensive insurance, which you'll appreciate in the event of an unexpected incident.

What are motorcycle insurance coverage options?

Motorcycle insurance isn't one size fits all. The coverage you get depends on how risk-averse you are, your driving record, and how much you're willing to spend. You also have to consider the laws of your state.

-Liability coverage:

This insurance covers injury you may cause to the body or property of another up to policy limits. It does not protect you or your motorcycle. The insurance may cover your passenger depending on the laws of the state in which you're insured and the company providing you with a policy.

-Collision coverage:

Collision coverage is the insurance you want to protect your bike in the event you collide with another object or have an incident avoiding an animal. If your bike is not repairable, your insurance company will determine the value of your vehicle and pay you the determined value of your bike.

-Comprehensive coverage:

Comprehensive insurance covers the loss of property that stems from causes other than a collision. This coverage varies by state and may include fire, theft, or vandalism.

-Medical payments (MedPay):

This form of insurance isn't available everywhere. It covers your medical bills only up to whatever limits you have. Injuries to a passenger are not covered under MedPay, they are actually covered under Bodily Injury (assuming the driver was at fault.) However, it does not include lost wages or other costs. This is meant to compensate for otherwise insufficient medical insurance.

-Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage:

This insurance protects you if your incident is with someone who doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance protection. These policies cover medical treatment, lost wages, and sometimes even property damage. In some states, these types of coverages can be purchased separately from each other.

-Personal injury protection:

Regardless of who's at fault, PIP covers your medical bills, and may cover your passenger's and any injured pedestrian’s medical bills. This depends on the state and may also be covered under Bodily Injury. While many insurers offer PIP, not all states allow for the sale of PIP.

What are motorcycle insurance add-on options?

Your coverage doesn't have to only cover your bike. It can include your trip, customization changes you've made to the bike, and roadside assistance. Some of these are considered add-ons when in reality, they're indispensable. Who wants a ruined ride?

-Trip interruption options:

Rides can last thousands of miles. For this reason, trip interruption insurance can mean the difference between having and not having a good time. In most cases, once you're outside of a radius of 100 miles from home, your trip interruption insurance will kick in. It will help pay for lodging, transportation, and food while you wait for your motorcycle to be repaired or replaced.

-Coverage for custom parts, equipment, and accessories:

This insurance covers parts that you bought after purchasing your motorcycle. These customizations may include custom paint, chrome wheel rims, and sidecars. States don't require this coverage, but lenders might. If you put this much love in your bike, you're going to want it covered.

-Roadside assistance:

Roadside assistance is the type of insurance most likely to bail you out of a quick jam. Out of gas, flat tires, a tow, or an issue that requires an immediate solution can be covered by roadside assistance.

What motorcycle insurance discounts are available?

You can get discounts for being a good driver, and being a loyal customer. You may also save money by completing a motorcycle safety course, being a member of a motorcycle association or being active or retired military or law enforcement, having an anti-theft device, paying your entire premium in a single payment, and having a motorcycle equipped with  anti-lock brakes.

What are the payout options if my bike is destroyed or stolen?

In the event of an incident, the agreements you make with your insurance company will determine how you're compensated.

-Actual cash value:

The actual cash value is when your insurance gives you how much your bike is worth in cash, minus depreciation and your deductible.

Frequently asked questions:

-Do states require motorcycle owners to buy insurance?

Virtually all states necessitate that riders buy the same level of liability insurance as car owners. In some states, you also have to get uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Lenders will also require proof of insurance coverage.

-Can you insure a motorcycle without a license?

If you're going to ride, you better have a valid motorcycle license or endorsement. Most states demand you have a license or endorsement to ride on most roads and highways. Some insurers, however, do cover collectible bikes that you do not intend to ride.

-Does insurance cover a stolen motorcycle?

Comprehensive coverage will protect you if your bike is stolen, which is another good reason to select that option with your insurance purchase.

-Will my motorcycle insurance cover me on another bike?

You'll need to check the specifics of your policy. But if it's a bike you own or use but don't have coverage, then you might be out of luck.

The bottom line on motorcycle insurance

Motorcycle insurance may be the law, but it doesn't have to be a drag. It can provide you with both peace of mind and bail you out of a jam. And nothing makes a ride better than having less to worry about. And if your trip gets interrupted, don't worry, there's coverage for that too. Please review with your insurance professional at Harley-Davidson Insurance Services to understand what coverage options are available in your state.

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