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Is My Insurance Protecting My Motorcycle in Case of a Friend's Mishap?

Person walking to parked motorcycle

One of the best things about riding motorcycles is the community.

On the road, we can't tell you how many times we've run into other riders at meet-ups, rest stops, or even just while running quick errands and ended up talking about bikes for hours. At the end of the day, we leave with a new friend who loves the same things we do.

Sometimes your closest friend wants to take your bike for a spin, and as their friend, you want to share your love of riding. So, it's important to know your insurance policy's coverage and liability rules in case your assets are damaged.

Knowing your coverage status (as well as the coverage status of the person borrowing your bike) is essential.

What is the difference between a permissive operator vs. a regular rider?

The motorcycle's insurance policy may only cover a regular rider if the policy has that regular user added as a named operator or an additional driver.  On the other hand, a permissive operator may be covered if they use the motorcycle with the owner's permission.

This is a key distinction for an insurance provider. 

In the event of an insurance incident, the insurance company will determine the extent of the coverage based on the driver's status as a permissive operator or a regular rider.

What to do if your friend has a mishap on your motorcycle

Let's say the worst happens; what can you do if your friend has a mishap with your motorcycle?

Much will be determined by who the at-fault driver is, but as the vehicle owner, it's important to know what you are liable for.

Your Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Like most auto policy coverage, motorcycle insurance offers a range of different types of coverages from which to select. Typically, the more coverage, the more your bill. The size of your policy limits will determine how much your monthly or annual payment is.

Liability Coverage

As a motorcycle owner, you are required in most states to carry liability insurance.

This liability coverage includes bodily injury liability insurance and property damage coverage to others.

It can help others if your motorcycle causes the incident, i.e., the things your machine damaged.

Medical Payments Coverage

This type of coverage can help with the medical expense that results from an unforeseen incident. 

This form of insurance can help with medical bills but will depend on the circumstances of the insurance event and your coverage limits.

Collision Coverage

This coverage is optional but can be very helpful in the event of an unplanned incident as coverage is not dependent on who is at-fault.

Comprehensive Coverage

While policies with Comprehensive Coverage are each different, this coverage can provide you financial protection that comes with paying for your bike’s repairs. 

Their Insurance Coverage

An auto insurance policy may not cover a motorcycle accident.

Even if they have comprehensive coverage, one thing that will almost certainly not be covered is custom equipment.

Custom chrome parts, custom paint, or other modified parts may not be covered by their policy.

Even if they have their primary coverage, the details of the incident will determine the primary and secondary policy to sort out the claims.

Things to Consider

Hopefully everyone involved is unharmed, and the mishap happens close to the nearest repair facility.

If your friend carries excellent coverage, it's possible, even if unlikely, that their policy will cover most of the resulting damages.

You may be liable for damages exceeding the insurance limit, if there are multiple parties involved in an incident with a claim. If the rider doesn't carry motorcycle insurance, you can be liable for damages exceeding the insurance limit.

What to do if someone wants to borrow your motorcycle

We know you want to share your love of the road.

Sometimes we get to share our love of riding with someone new who has less experience but makes up for it with enthusiasm. Inevitably this driver, without an MC endorsement on their license, will ask if they can ride your motorcycle.

Our advice to these riders is to sign up for a motorcycle safety course instead of letting them borrow your ride, especially if it's a brand-new bike.

At the safety course, a new driver is expected, and even if there is a situation involving a slightly damaged bike, there may be no impact to insurance rates.

You should speak with your motorcycle insurance agent if you have any questions about your policy, but know it's a big leap of trust to allow someone to borrow your motorcycle, no matter how close. 

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