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Motorcycle Rental Insurance – How Does It Work?

Added July 15, 2022
Person Camping with their motorcycle

Traveling adds spice to life. Seeing new places, eating fresh foods, and meeting new people make every trip worth remembering.

Exploring new roads (or trails) makes a vacation even better for us motorcycle riders.

Unfortunately, many riders don't see rental motorcycles as an easy choice.

  • Do you travel with your helmet and other protective gear, or will the rental company have you covered? 
  • Is the rental location easy to get to from the airport or port of entry?

It gets even more complicated if you are traveling to an international location.

  • Is your state-issued license a valid driver's license, or do you need an international permit? 
  • Do they accept your credit cards?
  • Can you rent a dirt bike or ride a track day?

These are all situation-dependent questions that the rental agency can quickly answer at your destination. But what's harder to determine is what type of motorcycle insurance policy will cover your travels.

Unlike some other questions, riders need to know about insurance coverage before they rent a motorcycle. An unforeseen incident without the right coverage can leave you on the hook for out-of-pocket medical expenses, property damage, or worse.

We have this quick guide to make sure that you know what you're signing up for with a rental before you ride off into the sunset. 

Motorcycle Insurance Overview

In most states of the U.S. (and in almost every country on earth), insurance is required to operate any vehicle.

From a liability-only insurance policy that helps ensure you meet state requirements  to a more robust type of  policy that will cover your bike, passengers, gear, and more, riders need to know what they are paying for. 

If you're a regular rider who keeps your bike insured, you probably know your risk tolerance and purchase insurance accordingly.

But for newer riders or riders looking to rent while on vacation to test out what it feels like to see the world from two wheels, we have a  breakdown of insurance coverages that can be added to your policy or purchased as a new policy. 

Comprehensive and collision:

Collision protects you if you need to pay for damages caused by hitting or getting hit by another object or vehicle. Comprehensive coverage protects the bike from damage not included in collision insurance, such as theft, fire, flood, or vandalism.

Custom parts/equipment and full value for replacement parts:

Optional equipment insurance protects non-factory standard additions you may have made yourself. You can also get full optional equipment replacement insurance so that if your bike is totaled and your additions are also kaput, they too will be replaced if it’s repairable.

Total loss coverage: 

If your bike gets totaled, you can get it completely replaced and not at depreciation value.

Injury coverage:

Here are a few of the different coverages that, if they are not part of your policy already, you could add.

  • Guest passenger liability: This protects you if your passenger gets hurt and the operator is to blame.
  • Bodily injury liability: This is for at-fault accidents that cause harm to others. This insurance can help cover lost wages, pain, medical expenses, suffering, and death.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: This insurance protects you if someone with an uninsured vehicle is at-fault for injuring you.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury: This may protect you if you are injured by the at-fault operator of a vehicle with insufficient insurance.

Medical expense:

This coverage helps you and your passenger with medical costs in the event of an accident.

Personal injury protection:

Regardless of who's at fault, this insurance provides coverage for medical expenses for the policyholder and anyone else who's eligible per the amounts stipulated by the policy. This coverage often includes non-medical expenses like wage loss and death benefits. Availability varies on a state-to-state basis. 

And the options don’t end there. You can increase your coverage limits to cover more significant amounts (although it will cost you more), protect your personal belongings in case of theft or damage, or even have a tow truck called for free if you break down.

The bottom line is that a rider can choose from many different levels of coverage as a baseline for their policy.

The different types of coverage work together to create a robust quilt of protection for you and your ride.

Motorcycle Rental Insurance Overview

Rentals work similarly all over the world for motorcycles and cars.

You will choose the rental vehicle, place a deposit with the rental company, sign a loss and damage waiver, and choose the level of insurance protection you would like to add to your rental.

Unlike renting a car, this is followed by helmet fitting (if the rental company offers helmets) and a time to familiarize yourself with the bike.

All bikes are different, so taking a moment to get comfortable with the controls and slow maneuvers in the parking lot before riding off is highly encouraged. Ultimately your rental rates will be determined by the vehicle you pick and the insurance coverages and limits you choose to add (if any).

Rental insurance is typically offered with varying levels of coverage for a fixed daily rate. Most rental insurance policies are expensive and have high deductibles but will meet state requirements for liability coverage.

Read the fine print to know what is best kept as an out-of-pocket expense and what should be covered on your policy.

Does My Insurance Cover Motorcycle Rentals in Other States?

Since rental insurance is a bit different from your standard policy, knowing if you need to purchase additional coverage can be confusing.

Many insurance companies do not actively promote rental policies (except coverage while your primary motorcycle is in the shop). The best move is to check with your insurance provider to see if your policy covers a rental.

Many broad insurance policies do cover travel, but if you have a bare-bones plan for your day-to-day riding, it is almost certain that you will need some supplemental liability insurance to ride a motorcycle on your trip legally.

Some major credit card companies offer additional insurance protection for a rental purchased with their cards. This almost exclusively applies to auto insurance and does not count as adequate motorcycle rental insurance. 

If you believe that your credit card company covers motorcycles, it would be worth explicitly confirming this with them before you ride off the rental lot.

Should I Purchase Motorcycle Rental Insurance? 

Standard motorcycle policies are a patchwork combination of insurance options. If you plan on regular motorcycle rentals, it may be cheaper to purchase a thorough policy that ensures you have sufficient insurance on any rental you choose instead of purchasing through the rental company for a daily rate.

Suppose you rarely travel and rent a motorcycle. In that case, it may be cheaper to purchase a few days' worth of additional insurance through your rental company to ensure you meet the legal motorcycle insurance minimum requirements for the area you are riding in.

Wrapping Up

We hope that this quick guide has given you a better idea of what to expect from motorcycle insurance and that you won't be caught off-guard by all the specific benefits and exclusions when renting.

If you want to rent a motorcycle in the future, we hope that you now feel more comfortable approaching the rental agent and asking about motorcycle insurance.

Now, what are you waiting for? Head out onto the open road!

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