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How does motorcycle insurance work?

Motorcycle insurance protects you or the driver you may cause damage to in an accident from the financial burden of having to pay high medical or repair costs.

In almost every state, you’re required by law to purchase car insurance to protect you or the driver you may cause damage to in an accident from the financial burden of having to pay high medical or repair costs. If your vehicle isn’t a car but a motorcycle, this law still applies: you have to get car insurance for your motorcycle.

Car insurance for motorcycles works in almost exactly the same way as that for more four-wheeled vehicles. You can buy different amounts of coverage under the different components of your car insurance policy to make sure you’re getting the right amount of coverage for your needs.

You may be able to buy a distinct product called motorcycle insurance, or you could also bundle insurance for your motorcycle with the auto insurance you have on your traditional car. Either way, insurance for your motorcycle protects you from liability to yourself, to the other party in an accident, or to passengers in your car. It also protects you from the theft of or damage to your bike, including both collisions with other vehicles or with stationary hazards.

Read on to learn more about:

How much motorcycle insurance should I get?

Before you decide how much motorcycle insurance you should get, take note of how much you’re required to get in your state. Many states establish minimum amounts of coverage you need before you’re legally allowed to get on your bike. For some people, those minimums may be enough, but they also may not be high enough for your actual coverage needs.

Beyond the minimums, your motorcycle insurance coverage must factor in how much you can afford to pay out of pocket for damage and injuries you cause with your hog. Medical and repair bills may far exceed your insurance policy’s coverage limits if you purchase too little, so getting more coverage could end up saving you thousands of dollars.

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You also need to take into account all the safety gear you’d need to replace, such as your helmet and the motorcycle jacket that protects you from road rash when you go down. Coverage may even extend to accessories like saddlebags, radios, and seats.

Motorcycles, however, could be less damaging than a four-wheel car when colliding with another vehicle. You may be able to get away with spending less on liability insurance, the component of car insurance that covers injury to a person or damage to his or her property, than you would if buying insurance coverage for an auto. But don’t lower it too much, or it won’t work as needed if you get into an accident.

But if you’re worried about wiping out, you may want to increase coverage in the personal injury protection (PIP) component of your motorcycle insurance, which covers medical expenses, lost wages, and related damages that you cause to yourself or people riding with you. You may also be required to get guest passenger liability insurance, a part of motorcycle insurance that works like PIP in that it covers medical payments to people riding on the motorcycle with you.

Comprehensive insurance covers your motorcycle from vandalism or theft that happens when it’s not being driven, while collision insurance covers damage you cause to the bike from accidentally driving into something, whether stationary or another vehicle. You can also get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that’ll help make up the difference when the other party is at fault in an accident but doesn’t have enough coverage to make you whole.

Auto insurance can be enhanced by adding endorsements, which are separate, optional policy provisions that may increase your premiums. (Endorsements are also known as “riders”, a term which for the sake of clarity we won’t use here.) A popular one for motorcycle insurance is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) endorsement, which may cost you extra but compels any repair shop engaged by the insurance company to use official replacement parts when fixing your bike.

How do I get the best rates on motorcycle insurance?

The quest to get cheaper motorcycle insurance begins even before you purchase a bike. That’s because more expensive bikes – those with larger engines and prettier builds – are typically much more expensive to insure. If you spend all your cash on the bike itself, you might not have enough left over to pay your motorcycle insurance premiums. Before you buy a bike, decide whether you want a standard motorcycle or a sport bike. The difference in premiums could be hundreds of dollars per month.

Insurance companies charge lower premiums for smaller engines and vice versa. (Motorcycle engines are described in terms of their engine capacity. A 300 cc engine will get barely any of the speed of a 1,500 cc engine.) You’ll probably get a lower rate if your bike is built for durability instead of horsepower.

Your insurance premiums are largely a factor of how much coverage you need. Like with car insurance, the carrier will also take into account the following during underwriting:

  • Your age. The longer you can show that you have experience driving motorcycles, the lower your premiums will be. Don’t expect to get a great deal if you’re still young and don’t have a demonstrated history of motorcycle safety.
  • Your gender. You may pay more if you’re male. Sorry, insurers have the statistical data showing that male riders are more prone to risky activity.
  • Your location. If you live in a rougher neighborhood, there’s a higher chance the insurance company will end up having to replace your bike. They’ll charge you more for coverage than someone who lives in a less risky area.
  • Your driving record. As with the other factors, your driving record helps estimate how much risk you pose that you’ll cause damage to yourself or others. If you have a history of traffic violations, be prepared to pay more for premiums.

However, you could probably save a little on premiums if you bundle your motorcycle insurance with the car insurance you already have. When bundling insurance policies, carriers frequently allow you pay a single deductible, the amount you have to meet out of pocket before the insurance company picks up the rest, which could save you even more money when you file a claim. Check with your insurance company about this feature, as it may not be offered by every carrier.

Some carriers also offer a small discount for switching to them for your motorcycle coverage. Other discounts, like those for taking a driving-safety class, may be available.

Does motorcycle insurance apply to mopeds and scooters?

Not only can you get insurance for your moped or scooter, but in some states you may be required to, depending on the size of the vehicle’s engine. However, because these vehicles are lightweight and typically run at lower speeds, you may be able to purchase less coverage in the various components of auto insurance. Rates may be comparable to those offered to cover a motorcycle at similar coverage limits.

Insurers cover everything from your cruiser to your high-performance sport bike. They may also cover your dirt bike, or your custom, antique, or vintage motorcycle. Special insurance policies may be required for off-road bikes like all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), but carriers will vary so will their rates. In general, the harder and more expensive the bike is to repair, the more you’ll pay in premiums to help offset the motorcycle insurance company’s costs.

Disclaimer: Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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