If you are one of the Americans who have purchased a motorcycle in the last 10 years, you’re clearly far from alone: Ownership has risen steadily in the past decade and over 13 million people across the U.S. are now riding motorbikes. And of that total, nearly 20% of all riders are women.
Just as for car drivers, motorcycle riders are required to secure insurance and you want to make sure you have proper coverage in case you are in an accident or your bike is stolen. And if you’ve purchased a quad, three-wheeler or dirt bike, you should get insurance for these as well.
You also need to know your state’s minimum coverage levels for street bikes.
Here are the main things you should be looking at when shopping for a motorcycle insurance policy.
Your coverage options
There are a number of different coverages you can purchase, but the one you cannot legally go without is liability.
Liability — Most states require you to have a basic set amount of liability coverage, which can vary depending on the state.
There are three types of liability coverage in a policy and each state has its own minimum requirements for the elements in this mandatory insurance.
A typical level of minimum liability coverage would be like New York’s 25/50/10:
- $25,000 for the bodily injury or death of a person in an accident;
- $50,000 in an accident with two or more people; and
- $10,000 of personal property coverage.
But the minimum will not be enough if you do serious damage to another vehicle or injure a third party. Consider buying extra liability beyond your state’s minimum requirements to protect your assets in case you’re sued over an accident.
If you injure someone and are sued, the minimum will not go far in paying both your legal costs and any awards for the third party.
Additionally, most liability portions of policies do not cover passengers, so you should also have coverage for them too. “Guest passenger liability” insurance covers any non-household-member riding on the back of the motorcycle.
Most insurance companies require this coverage for a street bike. It’s either combined with the liability portion of the policy or it’s a separate coverage. This coverage is generally optional for off-road vehicles.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage — This is a smart buy as well, but only some states require this coverage. It pays out for injuries that you and/or your passenger sustain in an accident caused by a driver who is not properly covered or didn’t purchase insurance at all. It may or may not include damage to your bike, so check with us on this one.
Extra coverage for bike upgrades — If you own a motorcycle that’s been modified and upgraded with more chrome, saddlebags, custom handlebars and other decorative or safety features, you may need to discuss additional coverage in case your bike is damaged.
Experience counts — If you are a first-time motorcycle rider, be prepared to pay more for your coverage. It’s a fact that’s been borne out by countless studies: Inexperienced riders are four times as likely to be involved in motorbike accidents than those with five or more years of experience.
Collision coverage — If you’re in an accident, regardless of fault and whether there was a third party involved, this coverage would pay to repair your bike after you pay the deductible.
Comprehensive — This coverage will pay for repairs to your motorcycle from damage from other than an accident (like hitting an animal) or replacement cost if it is stolen. Like collision, you have to pay the deductible first.
Medical payments — This coverage is not available everywhere. It pays the medical bills for you and your passenger if you are injured in an accident.