We get a lot of calls about motorcycle insurance every spring, and again in the fall. When the weather gets warmer, people want to add coverage so they’re ready to ride. But when the cold weather creeps back in, many people think it’s time to cancel their motorcycle insurance, which isn’t always the best way to save.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to help you navigate the insurance aspect of caring for your bike.
Why would one policy cost hundreds of dollars more than another policy for the same motorcycle?
You’ll see different rates for the same motorcycle depending on the insurance provider and coverages you select.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is one reason for a significant price different between policies. UM coverage is often the costliest coverage on a motorcycle policy due to the increased risk of injury while riding a motorcycle.
If one policy costs $800 a year and another for the same bike cost $200 a year, the cheaper policy probably doesn’t have UM coverage or has much lower limits. In that scenario, the owner of the $200 policy is at risk of paying expensive medical bills out of pocket.
When it comes to insurance, cheaper is not always better.
How are rates determined for motorcycle policies?
There are a variety of factors that help determine the premium of a motorcycle policy, including:
- Coverages chosen
- Age of riders on the policy
- Insurance Score, including length of continuous motorcycle insurance
- Motorcycle riding experience
- Driving history- accidents and violations for all riders
- Applicable discounts
Do I need to keep coverage on my motorcycle during the winter when I’m not driving it?
While you’re not required to have coverage on your motorcycle if you’re not driving it, it may be better in the long run to keep coverage in place year-round.
Many insurance carriers charge higher premiums if you have a lapse in coverage. So overtime your policies may end up more expensive if you cancel your policy every winter and get a new policy in the spring.
The cost of motorcycle insurance already accounts for the number of months you’re able to ride based on the area you live in. Since the price is calculated that way, you aren’t actually paying for coverage for those winter months when you can’t ride. You’re paying for the 5 or 6 months you can ride and the premium gets split over a year long term.
Read more about whether or not you should insure your motorcycle in the winter in our blog Should You Keep Your Motorcycle or Boat Insured in the Off-Season?
What coverage are you required to have?
If you ride a motorcycle or dirt bike on public streets, you’re required to have Liability insurance on it. Each state has its own “state minimum” limits, which is the minimum amount of coverage you can legally drive with.
Colorado Minimum Limits: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for Bodily Injury, and $15,000 per accident for Property Damage
North Dakota Minimum Limits: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for Bodily Injury, and $25,000 per accident for Property Damage
Minnesota Minimum Limits: $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for Bodily Injury, and $10,000 per accident for Property Damage
Even though you can legally drive with the minimum limits, that isn’t enough coverage. The lowest we recommend for our clients is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for Bodily Injury, and $100,000 per accident for Property Damage.
If you cause injuries or damage while riding your motorcycle, you could end up paying out of pocket for any damages above your liability limits. In many states, your future wages can be garnished if you have an outstanding judgement against you. You can’t always prevent an accident, but you can be financially prepared by carrying higher coverage limits.
Are there other coverages I need to have if I have a loan on my motorcycle?
Most lenders require you to have Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your motorcycle. If you have a loan or lease on your motorcycle, contact your lienholder to find out their requirements.
Do I really need Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage on a motorcycle policy?
Yes! It may not be required by law, but UM coverage is still very important to have. You could be the safest rider out there, but you can’t control the actions of others. You’re far more exposed to potential injury on a motorcycle that you are in a car.
If someone else hits you while you’re riding and they don’t have insurance, you could be left with thousands of dollars of medical bills that you will have to pay out of pocket.
UM coverage will help cover those bills if you are not at-fault for the loss and the other person doesn’t have enough coverage. You can get UM coverage up to the bodily injury liability limits on your policy.
Read more about the importance of Uninsured Motorist coverage on our blog Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage If I Have Health Insurance?
Are my motorcycle accessories covered by insurance?
Accessories are generally only covered if you purchase a specific endorsement to add that coverage.
If I make modifications to my motorcycle, are those costs covered if my bike is damaged?
Depending on the modifications, you may need to specify them on the policy to ensure your motorcycle is eligible for coverage. You will likely need to get specialized coverage to ensure the policy accounts for the value of the modifications.
Does wearing a helmet get me a discount on motorcycle insurance?
I don’t know of any carriers that offer a discount for wearing a helmet. Some states require you to wear a helmet while riding. Even if it isn’t required it’s always recommended to help prevent extreme injuries in the event of an accident!
If I have a motorcycle endorsement on my license does that help my rates?
Most states require that you have a motorcycle endorsement or a separate motorcycle license to ride on public streets. As far as lowering the rates, that depends on the carrier your policy is written with.
Would taking a motorcycle safety course lower my premium?
Most insurance carriers do offer a discount if you have taken an approved motorcycle safety course. You will likely need to provide your certification as proof, and you may need to take the course every few years to keep the discount. The specific guidelines vary by carrier, so be sure to ask your agent what you need.
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