Before you take to the city streets on your vintage Vespa or your brand new Piaggio scooter, you need to make sure it’s properly insured. Like car insurance, requirements for insuring your motor scooter vary state-to-state. The requirements may also change depending on the engine size or top speed of your scooter or moped. But in most places, you’re required to have at least some amount of insurance for your scooter if it’s above a certain engine size.
So what kind of insurance policy do you need for a scooter? Some insurance providers cover scooters under their motorcycle insurance policies while others write separate policies for motorcycles and scooters. As with car insurance, before you settle on a policy for your scooter, it’s best to shop around and compare quotes to make sure you’re getting the best coverage for your needs (and your bank account).
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Insurance requirements for a moped or motor scooter vary by state and by the specifics of the vehicle. For example, in New York State, motor scooters and mopeds are in a category called limited use motorcycles. But within that category, scooters and mopeds are divided into separate classes based on their top speeds:
|Type of "limited use motorcycle"||Insurance required?|
|Class A, top speeds over 30-40 MPH||Yes|
|Class B, top speeds over 20-30 MPH||Yes|
|Class C, top speeds of 20 MPH or less||No|
But those categories are specific to New York State, while in California, for example, the vehicles are defined much differently. According to the California DMV, a “motorcycle” is any two-or-three-wheeled vehicle with an engine size of more than 150 cc, a “motor-driven cycle” has an engine size of 149cc or less, a “moped” is a motorized bicycle with a maximum speed of 30 MPH, and a “scooter” is a two-wheeled vehicle with handlebars that is ridden by standing on a floorboard, not sitting. These different categories of vehicles also have different insurance requirements.
If you own a moped or scooter and aren’t sure whether or not your state requires you to register it and have insurance, check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles before you take it out on the road — there will likely also be state-specific laws about helmet requirements, which lanes you can use and whether or not you can take your moped or scooter on the highway.
Make sure you know specifics about your vehicle first, like its maximum speed on level ground and its engine size. (Don't own a motorcycle yet? Here's everything you need to know about motorcycle loans.)
However, like with car insurance, the minimum insurance required by your state is just a starting place. In order to ensure you’re well-protected in case you cause damage or injury to someone, or in case your scooter is damaged in a collision, you should look into getting more than just the minimum amount of liability coverage you’re required to carry. And if you finance or lease a scooter or moped, your lienholder may require you to have certain coverages too.
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As we mentioned above, some car insurance providers include scooters and mopeds in their motorcycle coverage while others write specific scooter and moped policies, but most major insurance providers write policies for scooters and mopeds. Either way, you’ll be able to get a quote for moped or scooter insurance the same way you’d get a quote for car insurance: online, over the phone or through an independent broker.
Insurance for your scooter or moped will likely be significantly less expensive than both car insurance and standard motorcycle insurance, potentially as low as $75 a year.
Some of the most important coverages you’ll need for a scooter or moped include:
Liability coverage. Just like with car insurance, liability covers the costs if you injure someone else or damage their property with your scooter or moped.
Collision coverage. This pays for damage to your scooter or moped after an accident or collision, no matter who was at fault.
Comprehensive coverage. Covers physical damage to your scooter or moped that happened when it wasn’t being driven, like damage from falling objects, extreme weather, vandalism, and theft.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Covers damage to your moped or scooter if you’re in an accident caused by a driver without insurance, or whose insurance can’t cover the full extent of the damage.
Carried contents and belongings. Pays to repair or replace any of your personal items that are damaged or lost while you’re riding your scooter or moped.
Trip interruption coverage. Covers up to a certain amount for food, lodging, and transportation if your moped or scooter breaks down far from home.