Motorcycle Insurance 101: What You Need to Know Before You Get on the Road

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You might not think that people who sell insurance for a living are motorcycle riders. In our case, you would be wrong. Some of us are riders! We know what it’s like out there, set loose and speeding along on two wheels amidst a sea of cars. It’s beautiful. It feels like freedom. It’s awesome.

It’s also not the safest. We know that, too. Which is why we want to help make sure that our fellow riders are being smart about protecting themselves — which involves making sure you have the right motorcycle insurance for your needs. So what do you really need to know about motorcycle insurance before getting on the road? How much motorcycle insurance coverage do you need? How does motorcycle insurance work? And how can you make sure that you get the best rates on motorcycle insurance? Welcome to Motorcycle Insurance 101!

Motorcycle Insurance Is Not Optional

To begin with, all US states require that you show proof of minimum liability coverage in order to register your motorcycle. But there’s an even more important consideration: Without insurance, if you do get in an accident or wreck your bike, you could end up unable to pay for or recover damages. You could also end up on the hook for paying damages and medical costs out of pocket, putting you at risk of losing your home, car, or other assets.

If you’re a rider, you’ve heard it all already. But it bears repeating. As the Insurance Information Institute attests, motorcycles are involved in a crazy amount of accidents annually in the US. They’re hard for other vehicles to see, and it’s not like you’re wearing a seatbelt. And while we know you love that two-wheeled experience, two wheels are simply less stable than four. So it’s more likely than not that you’ll actually end up using that motorcycle insurance, whether you like it or not.

Minimum Coverage Isn’t Enough

Just as Motorcycling.com asserts, maintaining only the minimum liability coverage isn’t enough. Vehicle repairs, medical care, and legal fees can be incredibly costly. If you do get into an at-fault accident, those minimum coverage limits are likely to be woefully insufficient. Are you really willing to put your assets and financial health on the line for a cheaper motorcycle insurance premium?

As with any other type of insurance policy, the best course is to work with your insurance agent or advisor to customize your motorcycle policy coverage to match your needs and financial situation. That may mean considering generally optional coverages like collision, comprehensive, accessory or custom equipment coverage, medical payments or personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist, or full replacement cost for that sweet bike of yours.

Motorcycles Work Great With Umbrellas… Umbrella Policies, That Is!

Personal umbrella insurance policies are a great idea for motorcycle riders. Why? Well, as we mentioned, those motorcycle insurance policy minimums are just not sufficient. Depending on your policy, they may not provide coverage for many of the unexpected events that you may encounter, like vandalism, underinsured/uninsured motorists, loss of use, roadside assistance, or damage to all of those incredible accessories, mods, or other custom equipment. Umbrella insurance policies, on the other hand, can be customized to provide extra coverage for exactly these types of events.

To review, umbrella insurance coverage provides additional liability coverage that comes into play after you’ve reached the limits of your standard insurance policies. Depending on the umbrella policy you buy, you can use umbrella coverage to enhance or extend the coverage provided by your homeowners, auto, renters, motorcycle, boat, or other insurance policies. Typically, personal umbrella policies offer at least $1M in liability coverage. And umbrella policies are more affordable than you think. (We know because we sell a ton of them!)

Motorcycle Insurance Generally Follows the Bike (Not the Rider!)

If you went with minimum coverage limits, your motorcycle insurance coverage most likely applies only to you — and only while you’re riding your bike. So if you borrow someone else’s bike to ride, you’re not covered by your policy. But if you loan your bike to a friend and they crash it, your policy may help pay for repairs, property damage, or medical costs. It just depends on your policy. In addition, your passengers may or may not be covered in the event of an accident (especially depending on who’s at fault).

Work with your insurance agent or advisor to closely review your policy limitations and exclusions. Before getting on the road, it’s crucial to ensure that you understand who’s covered and how. And if you’re planning to loan your bike to someone else, take the time to get your head around their coverage limitations, too. Their coverage could come into play if yours proves insufficient.

You Should Totally Shop Around for Motorcycle Insurance

No guide to motorcycle insurance would be complete without some tips on how to save on motorcycle insurance. So it’s important to know that not all motorcycle insurance policies are created equal. In addition, certain motorcycles are more costly to insure. That’s one reason shopping around for motorcycle insurance pays: so you can ensure that you’re getting the best coverage for the best rates. III gives a helpful rundown of the various factors insurers tend to consider when determining your motorcycle insurance policy rates.

As Revzilla suggests, it’s also a great idea to shop for motorcycle insurance BEFORE you invest in a new bike. After all, if you’re financing the bike, you’ll be required to carry high coverage levels (in order to protect your lender’s investment). Your motorcycle insurance research may steer you toward buying a different bike that may be less costly to insure. Revzilla recommends considering lower displacement engines, which tend to equate to lower rates.

Motorcycles Get Discounts, Too!

Many insurance carriers also offer motorcycle insurance discounts. To get the best rates on motorcycle insurance, make sure to ask your insurance agent or advisor about any potential discounts you may qualify for. Available motorcycle insurance discounts may include:

  • Bundling discounts (i.e., if you bundle with your auto and/or home insurance policies)

  • Multi-vehicle discounts (i.e., if you bundle with additional vehicle policies, including additional motorcycles)

  • “Experienced,” “mature,” or “good” rider discounts, since the idea is that more experienced riders tend to be involved in fewer accidents

  • Affinity group discounts for qualifying motorcycle riding associations

  • Safety course completion discounts for voluntarily completing qualifying motorcycle safety courses

  • Seasonal or “lay-up” discounts, if you elect to ensure your motorcycle only in the spring and summer months

  • Instructor discounts, if you are a current Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor

  • Theft recovery system discounts

Why not make absolutely certain you’ve got the right motorcycle insurance coverage for your needs? Give us a call at (833) 487-2683 or send us a message. One of Covered’s amazing licensed insurance advisors will be happy to review your existing policy or help you craft one that’s perfect for your needs.

Now don’t you feel smarter already? We thought so! Why not keep your smart streak going by comparing rates on a new car insurance policy? We’ll get you accurate quotes in a minute or less!

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Cover Photo by Royal Enfield on Unsplash

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