Motorcycle Insurance 101: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get On the Road
If you plan on buying a motorcycle, you need to understand the obligations that come with it. Apart from getting a special motorcycle license and obeying traffic rules, most states in the US also require some form of financial responsibility.
If you plan on buying a motorcycle, you need to understand the obligations that come with it. Apart from getting a special motorcycle license and obeying traffic rules, most states in the US also require some form of financial responsibility. This is to ensure that if you get into an accident and cause injuries or property damage, you can pay for it. The most practical way to do this is to insure your bike.
However, that should not be the only reason you purchase motorcycle insurance. Motorcycles are far more prone to fatal accidents than vehicles. This is because, with a car, you have a vehicle body and safety belt to protect you. You and your bike are likely to sustain severe injuries even in a minor accident that would leave a car with only a paint scratch.
For this reason, you need insurance to protect yourself and your precious bike if you get injured, or the bike gets damaged or stolen. To help you comprehend this, below is everything you need to know about motorcycle insurance.
Types of motorcycle insurance
Like in the car insurance industry, different insurance companies offer varying policies. The policy you take will depend on your preference. However, in some states, it's a must to at least have liability coverage. Here are the types of motorcycle insurance coverage you can take.
Liability insurance coverage covers you against any damage you cause others. This means if you hit another motorist and injure its occupants, the insurance coverage will pay for their hospital bills and repairs for the vehicle or motorcycle. Moreover, it will also cover your attorney's fee if they sue you.
As mentioned above, liability coverage is required in most US states. The coverage is usually broken down into three numbers. For instance, if you buy liability in California, the policy will hold 15/30/5, while in Georgia, it is 25/50/25. Here is what these numbers mean:
- 15: $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per individual
- 30: $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per road accident
- 5: $5,000 of property damage coverage per accident
Although the above coverage would be enough for the law in California, it would not be sufficient if you hit some premium models of cars or caused an accident that resulted in severe injuries.
Comprehensive insurance helps pay to repair or replace your motorcycle if it's stolen or damaged in an incident beyond your control. This means damages caused by vandalism, fire, civil disturbances like riots, falling objects, and natural disasters like hail, tornadoes, or floods. While no state requires your bike to have this coverage, you'll need to get it if it is leased or financed.
Collision coverage covers the cost of replacing or repairing your bike in case of a crash, regardless of who was at fault. It will still cover whether you crash into a tree, collide with another car, or crash without anyone's involvement. You will need this cover if the motorcycle is leased or financed.
Personal injury protection (PIP)
PIP coverage covers you and your passenger's medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. Additionally, it pays for lost wages in case you can't work. PIP is required in some states.
Guest passenger liability
Guest passenger liability covers your passenger's medical expenses if you caused the accident. This coverage is required in some states, so it's better to confirm before you hit the road with a friend.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Imagine if you were hit by an uninsured vehicle. The best-case scenario is the driver at fault will pay for damages out of pocket. However, what if they can't? This is where uninsured and underinsured motorist cover comes in. This cover will pay for your medical bill, motorcycle repair, and lost wages if the accident causes you to be out of work.
Medical payment (Medpay) coverage
MedPay pays for you and your passengers' medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. This could include hospital bills, ambulance, prescriptions, and emergency medical expenses.
Roadside assistance coverage
If you love traveling with a motorcycle, you know breakdowns happen occasionally. And if this happens in new areas, it might take a while to find help. Worst of all, you might incur costs you didn't anticipate. However, if you have roadside assistance insurance, your insurer will cover costs associated with mechanical and electrical breakdowns. Depending on the insurance company, these costs could include flat tires, towing, lost keys, fuel delivery, or other fluids. Check with your insurer exactly what they cover.
How much does motorcycle insurance cost?
The average cost of motorcycle insurance in 2023 in the US is $60 every month, or $721 annually, according to ValuePenguin. The report puts California as the most expensive state, with an average of $151 per month, and North Dakota as the cheapest, with an average of $28 per month. However, various factors will determine how much you pay. They include;
- Your age
- Your riding experience
- Where you live
- Bike safety features
- Type of motorcycle
- Where you keep the bike when not in use
- How frequently do you use your bike
- Customization and modification
How do you determine the best coverage for your motorcycle?
The best coverage will come down to personal preference. What do you want to be covered against? For example, you may not need MedPay coverage if you have Health Insurance. Again, some coverage, like liability, might be mandatory in your state.
To give you an idea, you should assess your personal needs, risk tolerance, the value of your bike, and the potential out-of-pocket costs you may incur in an accident. With this in mind, move to the next stage of shopping for a motorcycle insurance provider.
When looking for the best motorcycle insurance provider, the best place to start is to ask your friends and family who own bikes. If you don't have any, start by shortlisting reputable insurance companies. Check their reviews online. For the top 5 companies on your list, obtain and compare quotes. Read terms and conditions, identify hidden costs or exclusions, and renewal and cancellation policies.
Remember to check deductibles and discounts. Higher deductibles usually mean lower premiums, but ensure you can afford the upfront costs. Look out for the company with the best discounts, which could lower your premiums. Discounts can include;
- Safer rider discount - for riders with a good riding history
- Multi-Policy discount - you can get this if you take coverage from a company you have another coverage with
- Motorcycle safety discount - you'll need to complete a motorcycle safety course
- Riding association discount - this is for members of riding associations
What to do after a motorcycle accident
The immediate and most important thing to do after any accident is to get medical attention. Some injuries are apparent right away, but others have delayed symptoms that could develop over the coming days. After a medical practitioner confirms you are okay, begin settling your claim.
While it's possible to do this independently, consulting an attorney with experience in personal injury cases is best. A qualified motorcycle accident lawyer can help you calculate the total value of your damage, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and more. They will work with you to ensure you don't get less than what you deserve.
Wrapping it up
Just like with auto insurance, getting motorcycle insurance before you hit the road with your new bike is crucial. This is not only a law in some states, but it will help you cover medical expenses and motorcycle repair when involved in an accident.
Moreover, it will help you avoid paying out of pocket when you damage other people's property with your bike. Remember, not all insurance coverages are created equal. Shop around to find the best for you and your bike.