OK, a motorcycle's a lot more fun than a Sunday drive in the family car, but it's still a motor vehicle on a public road. So before you ride off into the sunset, make sure your motorcycle is properly insured.
What you'll need
Buying motorcycle insurance is very similar to buying automobile insurance. Typically, you'll need the following coverage:
- Liability insurance to cover you (and perhaps your passengers; some states require it) for bodily injury or property damage resulting from an accident with your motorcycle. Ask your agent about the amount of coverage you need. Some states have a minimum required level of coverage, but you may need more to protect your assets.
- Collision insurance to cover you for the value of damage to your bike, after deductibles, that results from an accident. If you're making monthly payments for your motorcycle, your lender will require collision coverage.
- Other-than-collision (also known as comprehensive) insurance to cover you for loss due to fire, theft, vandalism, and other events not resulting from an accident. This coverage also involves a deductible.
- Uninsured motorist coverage to pay your medical bills and other expenses related to bodily injury, including lost wages, if a driver without insurance hits you. It may also cover damage to your bike. Check with your agent to see if property damage is included in your uninsured motorist coverage. If it isn't, you may be able to purchase it separately.
- Underinsured motorist coverage to pay your medical bills and other bodily-injury-related expenses if you are hit by a driver with minimal insurance and your damages exceed the limit of that driver's coverage. Your underinsured motorist coverage will pick up balances up to your limit for underinsured motorist coverage not covered by the underinsured driver's policy.
How to save money on motorcycle insurance
Perhaps the best way to save money on motorcycle insurance is to maintain a safe driving record and to shop around for the best prices. Some companies will give you a discount if you attend a motorcycle safety class or if you have multiple vehicles covered under one policy. In many northern regions, you can buy a policy that discontinues coverage during the winter months when you won't be riding the motorcycle anyway. During these months, you pay no premium or a reduced premium.
Eliminating physical damage (collision and other-than-collision) coverage or increasing your deductibles will also lower your premiums. However, if your bike is financed, your lender may not let you do this. Special safety or antitheft equipment can also reduce your premiums in many cases. The number of miles you drive, the place where you store the bike, the size and style of the bike, and the horsepower and age of the bike may all affect your policy premiums.
If you're having difficulty with the price of motorcycle insurance, discuss these issues with your agent or insurer. You may be able to make some changes to lower your premiums without taking on unacceptable additional risk.
Where to buy motorcycle insurance
If you are purchasing a motorcycle, look into the availability and price of motorcycle insurance before you buy. It's often less expensive to buy motorcycle insurance from the same company that insures your automobile. By simply adding a miscellaneous-type vehicle endorsement to your regular policy, you may benefit from multiple-vehicle discounts and have the advantage of dealing with only one agent.
However, many companies that underwrite automobile insurance consider motorcycle operators high risk and refuse to underwrite policies for them. Alternatively, they may assign a motorcycle policy to the high-risk pool where you will pay the same high premiums as the riskiest drivers on the road. In such cases, it might be better to seek out a separate insurer that specializes in motorcycle insurance. Such a company may be more willing to cover you and may have a better understanding of your needs and requirements.