Motorcycle insurance can protect you, your bike, and other people on the road. If you get in an accident, your bike gets stolen, or it gets vandalized, your insurance is there to cover the costs.

Motorcycle enthusiasts have many different reasons for riding. For some, a motorcycle opens the doors to adventure. For others, a motorcycle fulfills their need for speed.

Whatever your reason for riding, we can all agree that hopping on a motorcycle provides the ultimate sense of freedom. Plus, it can be a more practical (and fuel-efficient) way of getting around.

Much like a regular car, however, you can’t legally hop on your bike until it’s registered and insured. 

What is motorcycle insurance, and how does it work?

The Rider’s Guide To Motorcycle Insurance: Everything You Need To Know - What is motorcycle insurance?

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Motorcycle insurance is an auto policy that specifically protects motorcycles. In many ways, motorcycle insurance is very similar to regular auto insurance. The main difference is the types of coverage you can get.

At a minimum, motorcycle insurance covers your liability if you cause an accident that leads to injuries or property damage. If you upgrade to a full coverage policy, it will also provide protection for your bike if it gets stolen, damaged, or totaled in a covered incident.

When you buy motorcycle insurance, you’ll pay a monthly or annual premium to keep your policy in force. If you need to file a claim, you have to pay a deductible toward the covered loss before your insurance company will reimburse you (similar to your health insurance deductible).

Luckily, motorcycle insurance is customizable, so you can choose your deductible and policy limits when you buy coverage.

Read more: Car Insurance Definitions: What Every Driver Needs To Know

What does motorcycle insurance cover?

Motorcycle insurance and car insurance offer virtually the same protection. Here are the main coverages that you’ll get with a full coverage motorcycle insurance policy:

  • Liability coverage. If you cause an accident that results in injuries, or damage someone else’s property, liability insurance covers the other driver’s losses and pays for your legal defense if you get sued.
  • Collision coverage. Collision coverage will reimburse you for the cost of your bike’s repairs if you get into an accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for your bike’s repairs if it gets damaged in a non-collision incident, like an accident with an animal or a fire. It will also cover the cost of a new bike if yours gets stolen.
  • Medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage will pay for your and your passenger’s medical bills if you get injured in a covered accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This policy provides coverage if you get into an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses in full.

Motorcycle insurance add-ons

Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to add endorsements to your policy, which fill gaps in your coverage and offer more tailored protection. Here are some of the motorcycle insurance riders that might be available:

  • Roadside assistance. Roadside assistance covers basic bike repairs. If you get a flat tire, need fuel delivered, or get stuck in the mud, roadside assistance will get you back on the road.
  • OEM parts coverage. OEM parts coverage will pay to repair your bike using original factory parts, rather than the cheapest option the mechanic can find.
  • Accessories coverage. This policy will cover bike accessories, like saddlebags and helmets, if your bike is damaged in a covered incident.
  • Trip interruption coverage. If you take your bike on long road trips, trip interruption coverage can reimburse you for the cost of a hotel if your bike breaks down far away from home.

What types of bikes are covered by motorcycle insurance?

No matter what brand or type of motorcycle you have, motorcycle insurance will probably cover it. Here are some of the bikes that qualify for motorcycle coverage:

  • Sport bikes.
  • Dual sport bikes.
  • Touring bikes.
  • Dirt bikes.
  • Trikes.
  • Cruiser bikes.

In addition to standard motorcycles, some insurance companies also sell motorcycle insurance for scooters and mopeds. Just keep in mind that this varies based on the insurance carrier, as some companies sell separate insurance policies for scooters and mopeds.

What’s not covered by motorcycle insurance?

Motorcycle insurance is pretty comprehensive, meaning most of the potential incidents you could face are covered. But there are certain things that aren’t covered, including:

  • Accidents and injuries sustained while racing.
  • Competitive riding.
  • Wear and tear on your bike.
  • General maintenance.
  • Intentional damage.
  • Commercial use of your bike.
  • DWI/DUI convictions.

How much does motorcycle insurance cost?

The Rider’s Guide To Motorcycle Insurance: Everything You Need To Know - How much does motorcycle insurance cost?

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The cost of motorcycle insurance depends on lots of different factors. It could be more or less expensive than regular car insurance based on a variety of things.

To calculate your premium, insurance companies will look at your personal driver profile, including:

  • Your location.
  • Your age.
  • Your credit score (in select states).
  • Your driving record.
  • Your insurance claim history.

Next, they will consider the specifics of your bike, including the make, model, year, and mileage. Typically, the more valuable your motorcycle is, the more expensive your insurance premium will be.

The last few factors that contribute to your premium are your policy details, such as:

  • Your deductible.
  • Your coverage limits.
  • Optional endorsements.
  • Discounts.

Another thing to know about motorcycle insurance is that the price is also dependent on the insurance company you choose. Some insurance companies charge higher rates than others, even for the same bike makes and models.

As you shop for motorcycle insurance, I strongly recommend getting quotes from a few different companies. That way, you can see which provider will offer the lowest rate for the type of coverage and the amount of coverage you want.

Does regular auto insurance cover motorcycles?

If you have a regular car insurance policy, don’t expect it to cover your motorcycle.

Car insurance covers cars, and motorcycle insurance covers motorcycles. Car insurance never covers motorcycles, regardless of the type, make and model, or age.

In order to purchase a motorcycle and register it with your state’s DMV, you’ll need to show valid proof of motorcycle insurance first. Not to mention, your policy needs to remain active in order for you to ride it.

Who needs motorcycle insurance?

If you own a motorcycle that is registered in your state, you need to have motorcycle insurance – it’s a legal requirement almost everywhere.

The only states that don’t require riders to have motorcycle insurance are Florida, Washington, New Hampshire, and Montana. If you live in one of the other 47 states that mandate motorcycle insurance, you’re also required to carry a minimum amount of coverage.

If you live in Florida, Washington, or Montana, however, I still recommend purchasing motorcycle insurance. Without it, you’re on the hook legally and financially if you cause an accident and there are injuries. You would also have to pay entirely out-of-pocket if your bike got damaged or totaled in an accident.

Remember – regular car insurance doesn’t cover motorcycles. If you have a standard auto insurance policy, you can’t add your motorcycle to it, nor will it cover you while riding.

Should I cancel my coverage during the winter?

The Rider’s Guide To Motorcycle Insurance: Everything You Need To Know - Should I cancel my policy in the winter?

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Depending on your location, you might only ride your motorcycle during the warmer months. So, should you cancel your coverage during the winter?

The answer is no. Seasonal riders should keep their policy active year-round, and there are a few reasons why it’s recommended:

  • Your bike can still get damaged. First, your bike can still get damaged when it sits in your garage. A house fire could burn the contents of your garage, or a huge tree could fall onto the roof. In this case, your comprehensive insurance would cover your motorcycle when it’s not in use.
  • A lapse in coverage can lead to higher premiums. Canceling your insurance policy in the winter makes you riskier to insure in the eyes of insurance carriers. As a result, you could face a higher motorcycle insurance premium when you reinstate your policy, and it’s possible that your insurer could refuse to renew your policy altogether.
  • You can’t ride until your policy is renewed. Even if you live in a state with harsh winter weather, you probably look forward to those unseasonably warm days. If your area experiences a winter thaw, you won’t be able to ride your motorcycle if your insurance policy is inactive. It’s illegal, and driving without insurance has unpleasant (and expensive) consequences.

Fortunately, there are a few options for seasonal riders who want to save money on insurance without canceling their policy every winter. Here are some solutions:

  • Get a lay-up policy. Some insurance carriers offer “lay-up” policies that cover your bike when it’s not in use. You keep the comprehensive portion of your policy and drop liability, collision, medical payments, and any other add-on coverages you have.
  • Increase your deductible. Raising your deductible increases your out-of-pocket cost in the event of a claim. However, a higher deductible means you’ll pay a lower monthly rate. Consider raising your deductible for every policy except comprehensive insurance to get a cheaper premium during the winter.
  • Adjust your coverage limits. Another option is to simply adjust your coverage limits. You can lower your policy limits for liability, collision, medical payments, and other policies to save money. Just make sure your policy continues to meet your state’s minimum coverage requirements to avoid penalties.

Ways to save money on motorcycle insurance

If you want to lower your motorcycle insurance premium, there are a few ways to save. Here are some suggestions:

  • Look for discounts. Most insurance companies offer discounts for being a good student, having no prior insurance claims, and opting into automatic payments.
  • Pay your annual premium in full. You can typically get a lower rate for paying your annual premium upfront and in full, rather than in monthly installments.
  • Take a motorcycle safety course. Some carriers will lower your rate for completing an approved motorcycle safety or training course.
  • Bundle your policies. If you have an auto, home, or renters insurance policy, consider purchasing motorcycle insurance from the same company to get a discount.
  • Join a motorcycle club or organization. If you belong to a motorcycle club, like the American Motorcycle Association or Harley Owners Group, you can sometimes get a lower insurance rate.

Summary

Motorcycle riders need to have motorcycle insurance – it’s the law. Motorcycle insurance covers your liabilities when riding, your medical payments, and it also protects your bike from damage.

The cost of motorcycle insurance depends on a variety of factors, so it’s a good idea to get multiple quotes to find the lowest rate. You can also take advantage of discounts to save money.

If you’re a seasonal rider, it’s best to keep your policy in force during the entire year. I recommend looking for a lay-up policy, which offers the protection you need during winter and doesn’t require you to pay for coverages you’re not using.

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About the author

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Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer specializing in insurance and personal finance. She has more than five years of experience in blog writing, social media management, and content marketing. Elizabeth's insurance writing has been featured in dozens of online publications, including Investopedia, The Balance, Forbes, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, and Insurance.com. She has also written for several insurance carriers. Elizabeth holds a degree in Communication Studies from Northeastern University in Boston. She has been living in New England for over a decade.