How does motorcycle insurance work?

How does motorcycle insurance work?

Nothing beats riding a motorcycle. The open road, the wind whipping around your face, and the fact that motorcyclists are twenty-six times more likely to die in an accident than car drivers. Plus, you save money on gas.

Just like with cars, buying insurance for your motorcycle is not only common sense, it’s basically mandatory. Pretty much every state has minimum insurance requirements for motorcycles, usually matching the minimum requirements for cars.

But motorcycle insurance is not car insurance. There are several key differences in what you want to cover and how you want to cover it.

First, the basics of motorcycle insurance

If you already have a car or have purchased car insurance, you probably already know the basics of motorcycle insurance. Depending on the state, you’re required to purchase anywhere between one and three types of insurance:

Liability insurance: Split up into two parts, bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD), liability insurance is what covers you if you hit another driver and, you guessed it, cause injury to their body or damage to their property. This type of insurance is required in almost every state.

Guest passenger liability insurance: A unique type of insurance just for motorcycles! Get excited! It specifically covers bodily injuries sustained by a passenger who is riding with you, either on the back or in a sidecar. Some states require this coverage to be separate from your standard BI liability coverage.

Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP is usually required in states with "no-fault" laws because it’s designed to pay out regardless of your legal liability. It can be used to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM): What happens when a driver hits you but doesn’t have insurance (or enough insurance)? Your own UM/UIM coverage kicks in, of course. UM/UIM is required in some states, but outside of those states, a lot of people don’t buy it or don’t buy enough of it.

Motorcycle insurance doesn’t just cover your hog – it can also cover mopeds, scooters, and dirt bikes. If you’re looking for an insurance protect for one of those types of vehicles, make sure it’s covered under that company’s motorcycle policy.

If you like liability coverage, you may also enjoy...

There are bunch of other types of insurance you can buy for your motorcycle, and while they’re not required, they may still be worth it for you.

Comprehensive coverage: What happens if your motorcycle is stolen? Or a fire burns down your garage? Or your motorcycle floats away in a hurricane? If you have comprehensive coverage, you can replace the motorcycle. If you don’t… well, goodbye motorcycle. While comprehensive coverage can be pretty expensive, it’s often cheaper than self-insuring, especially if you have an expensive bike.

Custom parts and equipment coverage: Another unique type of insurance for motorcycles! Depending on your policy, this may be covered to some extent by your comprehensive coverage, but depending on how many custom parts and equipment you have for your bike (and how much it all costs), you may want to buy additional coverage.

Collision coverage: Not all motorcycle accidents happen between two vehicles. Sometimes, people just drive into things! Collision coverage helps pay for any damages done to you, the bike, and the property you hit.

How to shop for motorcycle insurance

You need to get quotes from a bunch of different insurance companies. There’s no standard rate out there, it all depends on how insurance companies view your individual risk. So get a ton of quotes – it’s free, and if you don’t do it, you could get stuck with some overpriced insurance policy.

Pretty much every car insurance company also offers other types of vehicle insurance. If you also own a car, you may save money sticking with the same company by using "stacking" or "bundling." Bundling just means that if you have two insurance policies from the same company (car insurance, home insurance, or another type), you get a discount. Stacking means that if you have more than one vehicle insured, you can combine or "stack" your coverage – i.e., instead of having two policies with $200,000 of BI liability coverage, you can combine them to get $400,000 of coverage per accident, regardless of which vehicle gets into the accident.

Sidenote: get rid of motorcycle insurance during the winter

If you don’t ride your motorcycle for the colder part of the year, you can ask your insurance company about reducing your coverage during the months you don’t ride it. Not all insurance companies offer this, so if you’re interested in half-time coverage, talk to the insurer before you buy.

Image: Driver Photographer