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How to get motorcycle insurance
10 Best Motorcycle Insurance of 2019
The country’s leading motorcycle insurance providers reviewed. Get that peace of mind when you’re cruising the nation’s highways.
WHAT IS MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE?
Motorcycle insurance protects riders when they’re in an accident and in the event their motorcycles are damaged, lost, or stolen.
Motorcycle enthusiasts live for the sensation of the wind in their faces, and the freedom to roam the length and breadth of the land as they please. When they ride, they’re not merely passing by a town or a landscape—they’re in it. They love the thrills, speed and maneuverability they experience on their bikes. And they love their bikes for their power, design, and opportunities for customization.
Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience. It connects the rider to the road and to other bikers. Nothing beats accelerating through the twisties, those beautiful winding curves you find only on certain country roads, on a clear sunny day. But part of the experience is knowing that you’re safe – physically and financially. Even the most skillful riders can get into an accident (or have their bike stolen or damaged), so adequate motorcycle insurance is a necessity.
Here at ConsumersAdvocate.org, we’re enthusiastic supporters of motorcycling and the people who live to ride. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to motorcycle insurance so bike enthusiasts can get the insurance coverage for their motorcycles that specifically meets their needs and fits into their budgets.
. but not every state requires the same amount of coverage. Each has its own minimum requirements for bodily injury and property damage liability. In most states, motorcyclists must have at least $25,000 in bodily injury protection per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as $10,000 in property damage coverage. This minimum coverage is commonly referred to in this way – 25/50/10.
To see what insurance coverage is required in your state, clickhere.
The following states do not require motorcycle insurance:
If your state doesn’t require motorcycle insurance of any kind, it’s technically your choice whether to buy it or not, but smart motorcycle owners will pay for protection against their biggest risks. What those are depend largely on how they ride.
If you’re a collector who never takes your vintage motorcycle off your own property, you probably don’t need liability or uninsured motorist coverage. It would make more sense to buy just collision and comprehensive, probably with some higher limits to protect your precious bike.
However, if you live in a state with low auto insurance liability minimums, and you ride your bike everywhere, your risk of being hit by someone with negligible liability insurance is much higher. In those circumstances, you’d be smart to purchase underinsured motorist coverage, in case you’re hospitalized by an underinsured driver.
Whether or not your state requires you to get motorcycle insurance for your bike, you should protect yourself from the financial risks of riding a motorcycle. The minimum legal coverage is rarely enough to offset real world risks, particularly in states with low minimums where other drivers are more likely to be underinsured. The best motorcycle insurance can be tailored to fit both the bike itself and the risks that come with the way it’s used.
WHAT IS THE BEST INSURANCE FOR MOTORCYCLES?
A motorcycle insurance plan should fit the way you ride. Most companies provide policies that cover personal injury, liability, property damage, motorcycle collision and uninsured motorist, but not all companies will cover mechanical breakdowns. Is that something you would require?
In addition to the specifics of what the policy covers, there are a few other questions that should be asked prior to selecting a motorcycle insurance policy:
- What is the process for submitting a claim?
- Is 24/7 roadside assistance offered?
- If so, are emergency repair services available?
- Are there any policy discounts available?
It is also important to know that each state has specific insurance laws and requirements that govern how a motorcycle (or other two-wheeled vehicles) operate on public roadways. Most states require that a motorcycle operator obtain at least a basic liability insurance policy. Other states require that personal injury protection (PIP) and/or uninsured motorist coverage also be obtained, in addition to liability coverage.
Top 8 Companies
- Industry leader in motorcycle insurance
- Competitive rates, plenty of discounts
- Bike insurance for as little as $75 a year
- Full replacement cost and no depreciation for parts
- Total loss coverage for brand new bikes
- Coverage for gear and personal belongings
- Provides some of the most comprehensive coverage on the market
- Covers passengers as well as riders
- Rental reimbursement
- Loyalty discount for customers with the company for more than a year
- Homeowners discount available
- The Harley Davidson insurance specialists since 1903
- A+ Rating
- Wide range of discounts available
- Designed to protect everything that Harley is built on
- The Rider, Your Motorcycle, Freedom, Independence & The Harley Way
- Up to $30,000 in accessory coverage
- Diminishing deductible
- Accident forgiveness
- Roadside assistance and trip interruption
- Flexible deductibles
- Mechanical breakdown coverage
- Rental reimbursement
- Policies start at $50
- Save up to 35% with multiple discounts
- Allstate coverage customized with riders in mind
- Riders can save up to 50% with Allstate
- Allstate has been in business over 80 years
- Comprehensive motorcycle collision coverage
- New motorcycle replacement coverage
- Also covers up to $1000 worth of customizations to your Bike
- 24/7 claim services & Accident forgiveness
- Covers custom and classic motorcycles, scooters, sidecars, more
- Trip interruption, emergency roadside expenses
- Theft, fire, vandalism, and other losses covered
- Strong financial ratings
- 24/7 claims service
- 45 years experience in motorcycle, ATV, and off-road vehicle insurance
- Available in Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
- Insures standard bikes, cruisers, sport/high-performance motorcycles, enduros, scooters, mopeds, off-road vehicles
- “Substantial” financial stability rating from Demotech, Inc.
- Quotes available online, by phone, or through agents
- Focuses exclusively on motorcycle and off-road vehicle insurance and the motorcycle community.
- Only available for US military personnel and their families
- USAA Members get a 5% Discount
- 24/7 claims and customer assistance
- Good list of discount options
- Strong financial ratings
- Get a free quote
WHAT DOES BASIC MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE COVER?
The best motorcycle insurance – just like car insurance – strikes a balance between sufficient coverage and financial costs. Typically, motorcycle insurance is a combination of several forms of coverage that protect you and your bike in different ways and under different circumstances.
However, it’s important to understand the financial risks that come with riding a motorcycle – the cost of damaging your own bike, or causing damage to another’s property, and the costs involved if you’re responsible for injury to someone else.
Liability insurance is the most basic policy motorcycle owners should get and is required by most states. If you are at fault in an accident, you are financially responsible for any damage or medical costs that result. Liability insurance is used to pay the costs incurred in an accident you cause (after your deductible), up to the amount of your policy’s defined limits.
Each motorcycle liability insurance policy has three parts – bodily injury for one person; bodily injury for all involved persons; and property damage. Each one of these components has a limit, depending on the type of coverage selected.
Here are a few real-world examples of how liability insurance works:
- Damage to property of others – You run a light and hit the side of a car, causing damage to the doors. Liability coverage would pay to repair the door.
- Medical coverage for others – The injured driver of a vehicle goes to the emergency room, requiring medical treatment. Liability coverage would pay the cost of emergency transport and medical bills.
- Lawsuits arising from an accident – The injured driver sues you because of the accident. Your liability insurance would pay for your legal defense.
In addition to the minimum coverage requirements, most motorcycle owners opt to include other coverage for more extensive protection.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Collision insurance pays to repair your motorcycle in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. If another driver is at fault and you have collision coverage, your insurance company will pay for the damage to your bike, then pursue the other driver’s insurance company to recover the cost. However, you would still be responsible to pay for the amount of your deductible.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your bike from causes other than an accident, such as theft, vandalism or natural disasters. If your motorcycle is valuable, it is a good idea to carry comprehensive insurance. Also, if your bike is financed, most finance companies will require you to obtain a comprehensive insurance policy.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The vast majority of motorcycle accidents that involve automobiles are usually the fault of the car driver. And unfortunately, many car drivers are either uninsured or do not carry sufficient insurance to cover you in the event of a major accident.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you in the event that an at-fault driver hits you and they are unable to pay for the resulting damage. This policy will cover any property damage (your motorcycle, etc.) and any medical expenses resulting from bodily injuries you may suffer.
You should carry as much Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage as you can reasonably afford.
Total Loss Coverage
Let’s assume that you bought a motorcycle for $15,000 but it’s now only worth $10,000. If your bike is totaled in an accident and you do not have Total Loss Coverage, then the insurance company will only pay for the current value of your bike (i.e. $10,000). However, if you have Total Loss Coverage, then your insurance company will pay for the full manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a brand new bike (minus the deductible on your policy).
Most insurance companies have stipulations around this policy, pertaining to your motorcycle’s age, so make sure you understand all the details before you agree to purchase this coverage.
Accessory | Equipment Coverage
Accessory Equipment Coverage covers equipment and accessories added to a motorcycle after it has left the factory floor. Examples of motorcycle accessories include, but are not limited to:
- Trike conversion kits
- Antennas, audio devices, and various other electronic equipment
- Motorcycle trailers (pulled behind the motorcycle)
- Custom paint, plating, and exhaust systems
- Plow and mower blades
- Safety apparel, such as helmets and leather apparel
If you are adding or replacing factory-installed parts, it is a good idea to document this as much as you possibly can. It is recommended that you keep all receipts for your parts and photograph your custom parts before and after you have them installed on your bike.
Roadside Assistance coverage provides you with peace of mind, knowing that if anything should cause you to break down while out on the road, help is available so that your trip can continue as planned.
Roadside Assistance coverage usually includes:
- Emergency service to your motorcycle due to battery failure, flat tire, or mechanical or electrical breakdown
- Immediate need of fuel, oil, fluid, or water
- Motorcycle towing services to the nearest qualified service facility, if required
Lay-Up coverage is particularly useful in colder climates, areas where your bike may not be getting any use in the winter. While it may be tempting to just cancel your policy altogether for the winter months in order to save some money, this could present problems if it is damaged in storage. Lay-Up coverage enables riders to pay a reduced premium in these circumstances so their rides are fully protected when not being used.
First, make sure that all your immediate safety concerns have been addressed. Then you can begin to think about the steps you should take to successfully facilitate your claim.
Make a note of the registrations of the other vehicles involved.
Take the names and contact details of the other motorists, passengers and other witnesses, as well as their insurance details.
Try to sketch out what happened in the accident.
Take photographs of the accident scene, if possible.
Make a note of your location –including road or street names – and the nearest house numbers or businesses. Write down any other information that could be relevant such as road or weather conditions, and the time of day.
Cooperate with your insurer.
Following an accident, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible to report the matter. This applies whether you are planning to make a claim or not, and should be done within 24 hours.
Your insurance company will ask an adjuster to evaluate the cost of repair. This usually involves taking your bike to a local garage approved by your provider. If you take your bike to a garage of your choice for repairs, you’re unlikely to be able to claim the costs back from your insurer.
If you’re at fault, you’ll have to pay the deductible on any claim you make on your own insurance. However, if you’re claiming from another motorist’s provider, you won’t have to pay the deductible.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE?
In the United States, the cost of insurance varies considerably. Some of the main factors affecting your ultimate premium are your age, location (prices can actually vary from street to street depending on the safety history of a given area), type of motorcycle, extent of coverage chosen, and driving record. As with most insurance coverage, electing a higher deductible will lower your monthly payment and vice-versa.
Almost all motorcycle insurance companies offer discounts of some kind to qualifying customers. These discounts can allow you to save a substantial amount off the insurance rate you’ve been quoted – or perhaps even off your current premiums – if you take advantage of the ones available to you. But it’s up to you to seek out these savings. Your insurance company or agent may overlook or forget to mention these discounts.
Here are several industry discounts that you should be aware of:
- Multi-vehicle discount – most of the companies offering motorcycle insurance also provide insurance products for other types of vehicles. This makes insuring all your vehicles under one company more attractive.
- Multiple motorcycle discount – similar to multi-vehicle discounts, you can lower your premiums by having your motorcycle and trike, for example, under one company.
- Claim-free discount – although this is something you can take advantage of in the future, you can lower your premiums by maintaining a claim-free record.
- Safe driver discount – You enrolled in a safe driver course and educated yourself on how to reduce the risk of getting into an accident
- Pay-in full discount – You pay your entire annual premium at once, saving the company from reminding you when an installment is due.
- Anti-theft device discount – You’ve made it harder for thieves to steal your bike and are rewarded with a discount.
- Motorcycle Association Membership – You belong to an association (such as the Harley Owners Group) whose members take pride in their bikes and therefore are likely to be more careful with them.
- Bundling discount – You insure your home, car, boat, or other property with the same insurer.
- Anti-lock brakes discount – By having anti-lock brakes on your motorcycle, you’re reducing the risk of flipping your bike, so you’re entitled to a discount.
- Renewal discount – You have chosen to extend your coverage for another year, eliminating the company’s expense in assessing new risk and giving them more business.
Stand-Alone versus Rider Insurance
If you already have car insurance, you might be able to simply add motorcycle coverage as a “rider” to your existing policy. But you should know that the coverage you get through a rider probably won’t be as thorough, or as customizable, as what you could get with a stand-alone motorcycle policy.
Making sure you have the exact right coverage is reason enough to go with stand-alone, but it could also save you money versus a rider because rider pricing often doesn’t account for the precise risks you’re insuring against.
Older Bikes are Cheaper to Insure
This isn’t a news flash but the most exotic, highest horsepower motorcycles are also the most expensive to insure. The reasons include higher replacement cost, greater risk of accident, and higher desirability to thieves.
So if you care about saving on insurance, it might not be worth purchasing a very expensive motorcycle brand new (the 172-hp Suzuki Hayabusa has been named by Motorcycle.com as the most expensive motorcycle to insure). And, if you’re thinking of buying a motorcycle just for transportation purposes, you’ll save by going with an older model and/or smaller engine, too.
The Value of Umbrella Coverage
If you should cause an accident that leaves someone else hospitalized, they could potentially sue you for much more than the required liability coverage in your state. If you have demonstrable assets that would be in danger in that scenario, consider buying an umbrella policy on top of your existing motorcycle liability.
Why? Because an umbrella policy covers your liability for accidents involving not just your motorcycle, but also your home, auto and boat. As a result, it’s cheaper than buying extra coverage expressly for the “dangerous” activity of riding a motorcycle. But it provides the exact same coverage (as long as you don’t use it first for a claim involving your home, car, or boat).
The Value of Safety Education
Even if you’ve been riding a motorcycle for years, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve your skills. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation licenses safety courses nationwide with the goal of “lifelong quality education and training for current and prospective riders”. Not only will a safety course make you more aware on the road (thus decreasing your risk of accident), but it will also save you money on your insurance premium.
Your Credit Score Matters
Don’t be surprised when insurance companies ask for permission to check your credit history when requesting a quote. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between a low credit score and a greater percentage of filing a claim. Those with higher credits scores will almost always receive a cheaper insurance quote than those with a low credit score.
WHICH MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE THE BEST REPUTATIONS?
Being involved in an accident – whether it’s your fault or not – is extremely stressful. So is getting your bike stolen, vandalized, or otherwise damaged. That’s why the claims process is so important – it’s when your insurance company really shows you if it’s got your back.
Financial Strength Ratings
What matters more in insurance than knowing your claims will be paid? The answer is nothing. That’s why the financial ratings of motorcycle insurance companies are so important. You want to know that in the event of a claim, your chosen insurer has the financial wherewithal to honor and pay for your claim in a timely way.
Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and A.M.Best are global credit rating organizations. Solid financial ratings issued through these bureaus are a recognized indicator of an insurer’s financial strength and creditworthiness. We’ve compiled this information in a given company’s review where available.
Additionally, in the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a motorcycle accident or collision, knowing that your insurance company’s lines are open day and night helps to reduce the pressure of an already stressful situation.
When deciding on a motorcycle insurance company, it is a good idea to know if this is a service they provide.
- Claims Processing 24/7 – Accidents by nature are unplanned and could happen anytime during the day. Having someone at the other end of the line is a must for any motorcycle insurance policy.
- Mobile Claims – The ability to file a claim anytime, anywhere, online through a mobile device
- Telephone Claims – In an emergency, most people want the comfort of speaking to a claims specialist by telephone so all of their questions can be fully and directly answered.
To rate customer service we used 2017 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data on complaint ratios. This compares a given company’s complaints to the industry as a whole; it’s essentially a “complaint share.” This is a ratio of the number of complaints a company received to the its total premiums written in a calendar year. The median complaint ratio across all companies is 1. A score below 1 means the company received fewer than average complaints. A score above 1 means the company received a higher number of complaints than average. We also looked at a motorcycle insurer’s BBB grade, reviews, and complaints, along with the Trustpilot score where applicable.
Your ConsumersAdvocate.org Motorcycle Insurance Editorial Team
What’s important to know about Motorcycle Insurance?
Is motorcycle insurance required?
All but three states mandate motorcycle insurance. They are Florida, Montana, and Washington. If you live in these states, it still makes sense to get at least a basic policy as you will be held financially responsible in the event an accident is your fault just as you would anywhere else. All other states will require a rider to show proof of sufficient insurance in order to register their motorcycle. Additionally, mandatory minimums will fluctuate by state, as states have their own low end limits on what they will accept for liability, personal injury, and property damage coverage.
What kinds of bikes does motorcycle insurance cover?
All motorcycle insurance policies cover standard bikes. Standard motorcycles traditionally are affordable bikes with mid-range engines, bars, and foot controls; and comfortable and upright sitting positions. Depending on the insurance carrier chosen, other covered bikes could also include touring bikes, dirt bikes, trikes, scooters, mopeds, ATVs and autocycles.
What kinds of things are covered by motorcycle insurance?
Motorcycle insurance, like car insurance, is often a combination of multiple policies that cover you and your vehicle in different ways. Liability insurance is the most basic policy motorcycle owners should get and is required by most states. If you are at fault in an accident, liability insurance will help you pay for any injuries (or Bodily Injury) or damage (Property Damage) you caused to the other parties. Insurance requirements differ by state, so make sure to check before purchasing a policy. In addition to the minimum coverage requirements, most motorcycle owners opt to include other coverage for more extensive protection.
Full Replacement Coverage will cover the costs of a full replacement of your bike if it’s totaled and can’t be repaired.
Collision Coverage protection helps pay for repairs to your motorcycle after an accident.
Comprehensive Coverage will cover any damage to your motorcycle unrelated to a collision (for example, theft, vandalism or natural disasters).
Personal Bodily Injury Coverage (Medical Expenses) helps pay for medical care you require from an accident.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is useful if another driver is at fault and lacks the insurance coverage necessary to pay for your costs.
Accessory Coverage protects upgraded accessories such as transport trailers, sidecars, and safety apparel.
Passenger (or Rider) Coverage will protect the person riding with you in the event of an accident.
Cash Benefit will provide benefits to you or your family if you are involved in a serious accident, no matter who is at fault.
Does motorcycle insurance cover passengers?
Motorcycle insurance offers coverage for passengers, but the extent of protection depends on the type of coverage you’ve chosen and the state in which you live. A separate and specific guest passenger liability option will cover medical costs for your passenger but only if you caused the accident. If the other party is at fault, you will have to rely on their liability coverage. An optional medical payments coverage will also cover medical bills for your passenger regardless of fault. Additionally, personal injury protection (PIP) might cover a passenger depending on where you live as this type of “no fault” insurance is not offered in every state.
What is motorcycle lay-up insurance?
Motorcycle lay-up insurance is bare bones coverage you can purchase for when your motorcycle is in storage. This type of reduced rate coverage does not provide collision and liability for accidents that occur on the road, but rather for things that might happen to the bike while it is not being used. This could include vandalism, theft, or any other incidental damage. Lay-up insurance is ideal especially for those who live in colder climates and store their motorcycle for the winter. Paying the reduced premium provides peace of mind during these times, as if you were to cancel your policy outright you’d be 100% financially responsible for anything that happens to the bike in storage.
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