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- Standard auto insurance plans don’t cover your motorcycle. You need a separate plan.
- Motorcycle insurance may be much more affordable than you think.
- Custom parts coverage could be the most important motorcycle insurance rider you add.
I’m what you might call a reluctant motorcycle wife. When I first met my husband, I was glad he’d outgrown his love for motocross and dirt bikes, activities that just seemed too dangerous for a dad.
Yet, when he rediscovered long Sunday motorcycle rides, I had to admit there was something to hitting the road with the wind rushing by. Still, I needed to know we had the correct type of motorcycle insurance coverage to enjoy a ride.
I started by calling our auto insurance company and quickly learned car insurance doesn’t cover motorcycles. Instead, riders need a separate motorcycle insurance policy. Here’s everything that goes into creating the right policy for you.
Know your coverage options
Like car insurance, motorcycle policies are crafted by putting together different types of coverage. The basic types of coverage in a standard motorcycle insurance policy are:
- Liability insurance covers injury and damages to others if you cause an accident. This doesn’t cover injuries to you or damage to your property.
- Motorcycle collision insurance covers damage to your bike from a collision. Motorcycles vary widely in price, as do collision rates.
- Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your motorcycle from events other than a collision, like fire, theft, or a falling tree limb. Comprehensive coverage also accounts for animal encounters and other “collision” types. If you’re unsure about where your accident falls or want to understand before something happens, we recommend speaking with a licensed property and casualty insurance agent.
- Medical payments or personal injury protection covers the medical costs for injuries you incur on your bike. Of these two, personal injury protection provides more assurance since it covers medical bills plus other costs like lost wages. It also accounts for medical liability involving your passengers. State minimums vary, but insurers allow you to choose your coverage limit.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage covers costs if you’re in an accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or has too little insurance.
- Coverage for custom parts is essential if you like to modify your bike. Most motorcycle policies only cover standard parts. This excludes even manufacturer mods that may be completed before you see the bike. So if you’re doing any expensive mods like custom paint or a sidecar, you’ll want this additional coverage.
Learn about your minimum and ideal coverage
Next, check your state’s minimum liability requirements. Unless you only ride in Florida, Texas, New Hampshire, Montana, or Washington, you’re legally required to have some motorcycle insurance coverage, most often including liability coverage.
A common mindset is that any motorcycle accident won’t be expensive for the rider, and life insurance would be more valuable. Of course, everybody should have a good life insurance plan, but skipping your motorcycle coverage would be a mistake. Regardless of your injuries or property damage, lack of insurance could leave you or your loved ones in a pinch if you harm others.
Once you know what the minimum amount of insurance is, consider what your ideal motorcycle coverage would be. Adding comprehensive, collision, or custom parts coverage isn’t too expensive and could save you money in the long run.
Think about your driving habits
For most American riders, motorcycles offer seasonal fun. So I balked at the idea of paying year-round for a motorcycle that my husband and I only rode five months out of the year. Then I learned I might not have to.
Many motorcycle insurers allow you to add a “winter layup” or a “laid-up” insurance policy. This drops all coverage except comprehensive between November and March when most bikes are in storage. Of course, you would not have coverage if you wanted to go on a rider on an unseasonably warm winter day.
Another option: count the number of miles you ride in a given year. Riders like my husband, who only hit the road on the weekend, will pay less than people who use their bikes to commute every day. A property and casualty agent experienced in motorcycle insurance can help you sort out your options.
Consider a safety course
You’re almost ready to shop, but consider dedicating time to a safe driver course before you do. These aren’t just for new motorcycle enthusiasts. Many insurers offer steep discounts to people who take a safe-driver course even after years on the road.
In our case, the insurance cut was well worth the inconvenience of my husband, an experienced rider, taking the state-run course.
After all that prep, it’s time to get shopping. Here, you have a few options. You can compare quotes online, or you can call an agent. Some agents shop your policy with multiple insurers. Others work with a specific auto insurance company. Agents may be able to help you get a discount if you buy auto and motorcycle insurance or other insurance products from the same company.
It’s best to get at least three quotes. When comparing quotes, ensure the coverage options are the same. Then compare the deductibles (how much you’ll pay out of pocket when you have a claim) and premiums (the cost of the policy). Finally, consider whether the insurer offers a layup option or a safe driver discount.
Once you’ve chosen the right policy, you’re ready to hit the road. Insurance companies typically offer payment plans just like you’d see with auto insurance. But premiums may be much lower than your regular car insurance. So don’t be surprised if you save money by paying your whole motorcycle premium upfront.