Everything You Need To Know About Motorcycle Insurance
Here you are, you’ve just purchased or restored an exciting two-wheeled steed, and you’re ready to set out unto the world’s highways.
Hopefully, you’re licensed up, and we should take a moment to congratulate you for the passing of your exams and riding tests.
Before you can embark upon the unforeseen pavement, you have to (no really, you have to, legally) register with your local vehicular insurance company.
Insuring your motorcycle is a semi-complicated procedure, that is made rather painless – unless you’re sympathetic to your wallet – by the host insurance companies. It’s extremely important, as a member of the engine-propelled public that you insure your vehicle. This does numerous things, but most importantly, it protects both yourself and your fellow commuters if anything bad were to happen on the roads.
When it became mandatory – it was first legally installed by the state of Massachusetts in 1927 – for the overall protection of the well-being of drivers, it changed a large portion of the motor industry forever.
Here, we will go over all of the must-know aspects of motorcycle insurance in order to best prepare yourself for what’s to come.
The best place to get started is the mirror. Unfortunately, due to nearly a century of data, insurance rates (what you need, how much you will pay, and what companies will offer) have a lot to do with the person that is purchasing said insurance.
There are many things in that mirror that will help you understand what you’re about to get into. Obviously, your age is a huge factor. Younger riders, and people in general, are more likely to get into accidents. This may be a large over-generalization, but you can’t really argue with facts, and there is no way for your insurance company to change the influence of your age based on your personal history. Rather, to make it as “fair” as possible, they will lump age groups to ensure a just average. Youthful exuberance, and the apparent lack of life experience – in comparison with older riders – add to the risk of an accident.
If you consider that the legal age for driving or riding is the same(ish) almost everywhere you go, it’s easy to determine how much road experience you’ve been exposed to (legally, that is). So, while you may think you’re the most reliable 20-something you know, the insurance company doesn’t rightly care, because it’s easier (and probably more accurate) for them to put all of your age group in one pot.
With your age, comes your experience, and most insurance agencies have a system in place that offers long-time insured drivers or riders a discount based on your driving record over time. You can be sure that if you just walked out of the license office to march over and snap up some security in insurance, you’ll get a far higher rate than a veteran of the road.
Your driving record will also affect the outcome of your available rates, as those with accounted for accidents on their license will pay more than those with a spotless record. Your record will consist of everything tied to your specific license number. This will include strikes for getting tickets from your municipal police – whether it’s parking violations, speeding tickets, or impounding markers. None of those are good to have on your seemingly (there is no case of a dirty record being cleaned) permanent driving record.
Worse than tickets would be those accidents we spoke of. Regardless of scale, fender benders and right offs alike will greatly affect the standing of your license.
All of these things intertwine to define the mirror sentiment.
Your age, experience, and driving record can (if clean) be your key to major insurance discounts. Generally, these consist of promotions like 15% OFF for 10 years clean driving record. Something that keeps people striving to be better road users, and safer members of the public automotive flow. Consider your experience and your clean driving record the road to reaching the carrot that is decent discounts on your monthly or yearly insurance.
Though the age you are, and the experience you have on the road aren’t necessarily in your control, there are a few things (like being a safe driver/rider) that you can have an influence on.
Your choice of motorcycle matters quite a bit when you’re looking at insuring your ride.
Most municipalities will have general structure involved with their insurance brokers that take the size and power of your chosen motorcycle into account when building your insurance plan.
To make a gross average statement, you can estimate that there are three major brackets of motorcycle sizes.
Under 250 CC
Generally considered a scooter or moped, most municipalities don’t even consider motorcycles under 250cc’s to be “real motorcycles”. This affects two things. One, if you take your license test on a motorcycle under 250, you will not be legally allowed to pilot anything above 250, even if you pass the test. Again, this is all a generalization and may differ slightly in your neck of the woods. Most scooters and mopeds fall under this category, and often, you can ride these with just a normal driver’s license without the need for a motorcycle license.
In recent years, this segment of motorcycle engines has become more popular – with manufacturers like Ducati making a 400cc scrambler – and it’s a huge hit among commuters. A motorcycle in this range is quick and zippy in traffic, without needing the strength and power of a comfortable highway ride.
600 – 1000 CC
Starter Harleys and amazingly tuned introductions into sport bike riding fall neatly under this umbrella and are regularly the most popular range of motorcycles worldwide. If you’re in this range, you should expect to pay near the top of the charts for your insurance.
1000 CC +
Litre bikes, or anything higher than 1000cc’s gets a little foggy. Many cruisers, and track-built sports bikes will have engines of this size. It’s important to note that most groups have everything above 1000 lumped into the same category, so there is no roof here. Which only adds to the volatility of your insurance rates. If you have a motorcycle with an engine running 1000cc’s you will pay the same as someone with one of those beastly Triumph Rocket III’s which is the biggest production bike worldwide at a staggering (and completely unnecessarily) 2294cc engine.
Again, it’s important to note that these are general categories that you will find in most places. Your area and the insurance company may differ slightly, but these engine classifications are something you should keep in mind when considering what to expect from your motorcycle insurance.
Lastly, and this is completely up to you, it’s essential to take a step back and truthfully decide what you’re going to need your insurance for.
It’s crucial that you be realistic here.
What kind of rider are you?
How much are you going to be riding?
This part is going to get into some nitty-gritty insurance terms, so buckle up … or .. don’t, because you’re on a motorcycle, and they don’t have seatbelts. STRAP ON YOUR HELMET! … there we go.
For most countries, the very minimum insurance you can have (to ride on the road legally) is what is often referred to as liability insurance. Even this is a fluid mess at times.
Liability coverage will handle all costs in consequence for any OTHER party, and or property that you have damaged via an accident. As a non-fixed number, your liability coverage should always be at your comfortable maximum. The last thing you need if you wreck your baby, or your body, is to not have enough liability to cover the damage you’ve done to another’s vehicle, body, or property. Get as much as you can comfortably pay for.
The next type of coverage is a must (not legally, in some places) if you enjoy your physical self, or the motorcycle you ride. Comprehensive and(or) collision coverage is all about you.
This type of insurance consists of two major parts, collision and comprehensive. Collision insurance is pretty much exactly what it sounds like; this pays for medical bills, repair bills (for your bike) and replacement bills for your gear if you were to get into an accident. Comprehensive insurance covers more of the “freak accident” type stuff. If your ride is stolen, or some large object falls from the sky and crushes your sweet sports bike, comprehensive insurance will kick-in and help in all non-collision cases.
Both collision and comprehensive require you to select a deductible. This means that you have to put a “price” you’re willing to cover out of pocket before the insurance company has to kick in. If you have an $8000 motorcycle, and you select a $500 deductible, your insurance will have to cover the remaining $7500. But keep in mind, that the higher your deductible, the cheaper your insurance will be. If the insurance company is on the hook for a smaller amount of your possible costs, it will charge you less to keep you covered.
Now that we’ve knocked the two most common forms of insurance off the neatly placed tee, let’s take a swing at some of the more optional stuff.
Total Loss is an optional form of insurance that will, as it sounds, will cover you financially if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to write-off your entire motorcycle. “Totalling” your bike can often vary from place to place, but in general it’s safe to say that if an accident (your fault or another’s) damages the frame of your motorcycle, it’s totaled. You can, however, repair a totaled motorcycle, but it will forever bare the stain of a write-off on its title (the paperwork kept as a history of the motorcycle). An unclean title can, in rare cases, still be insured. But it is not cheap, and is not recommended.
Uninsured or Underinsured coverage is a great addition that will help you out if you get into an accident with someone that is not insured, or someone that does not have enough coverage to help you. This is an unfortunate part of being a motorcyclist, many standard car insurance packages don’t cover enough to help the extensive injury or costs for the rider if an accident were to occur between a passenger vehicle and a bike.
There are also general coverages for Parked insurance, which is important during those months that you just cannot ride, are doing extensive repairs, or you have multiple bikes. Even your rides that are stationary should have at least some comprehensive insurance to avoid the gut-wrenching panic caused by human or natural error.
Other additional insurances like Medical, and Optional Equipment coverages help cover extra costs when it comes to the replacement of gear and protective armor, as well as supply additional coverage for medical bills rendered as the result of an accident.
While it’s uncommon (unless you have expensive gear) to get Optional Equipment insurance, a lot of riders opt-in for the additional medical coverage. There are, to no one’s surprise, additional risks posed to riders if an accident were to happen. You can never be too careful or covered when it comes to your health.
There are also insurance coverages that will help you out if you break down in the middle of a trip, and towing or general repair costs.
A lot of riders cannot be on the road all year long. Many of us live in locations that have more than one season, and riding through the snow is not advised what-so-ever. So, if you take into account the type of riding you’re going to do, and consider the best and most comprehensive coverage you can afford, and move forward from there.
If you’re an off-roader, chances are you can skimp on the Liability deductible, and go heavy on the labor and medical coverages. It’s beautifully variable, and you should completely take advantage of that.
It’s also important to note that you can purchase short amounts of insurance coverage at a time, and can avoid paying out of your pocket during times that you cannot ride.
- IBC – Motorcycle Insurance
- Megson Fitzpatrick – Motorcycle Insurance
- American Family Insurance – Motorcycles
- American Collector’s – Motorcycle Insurance
- Government of British Columbia – Riders and Gear