The temperature’s climbing, summer’s on the way, and the sound of revving hogs can be heard in the land. It’s time to get your motorcycle running and head out on the highway -- but before you go, make sure you have enough motorcycle insurance and that you understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.
Okay, insurance isn’t a real sexy topic but lack of knowledge could cost you thousands of dollars in the event of a claim, and leaving you deeply in debt for medical bills. Yet, according to a survey conducted in 2007 by the Progressive Group, which claims to be the largest motorcycle insurer in the U.S., bikers are woefully uninformed.
Motorcycle Coverage Basics
Like passenger vehicle insurance, motorcycle insurance is made up of different mandatory and optional coverages. Exactly what coverage you must carry and how much will depend on the laws of your individual state. Here’s the rundown:
- Liability. This covers bodily injury and property damage you cause to others in an accident, in other words, what you’re liable for. It doesn’t include you or your bike. Some liability policies include guest passenger coverage, to protect anyone on the back of your bike, but not all do and not all states require it. If you frequently carry passengers, it’s a good add-on to consider.
- Collision. This covers damages to your motorcycle caused by a collision with an object or another vehicle, less your deductible. In the event of a total loss, or if your bike is stolen and never recovered, this type of policy will typically offer you the actual cash value (ACV) of your bike based on its resale value according to third-party source like N.A.D.A. or Kelley Blue Book, less your deductible. If you’ve added a lot of custom parts to your bike, you should definitely consider additional or optional equipment coverage.
- Comprehensive. This takes care of damages to your bike caused by fire, theft, vandalism or any other covered peril that doesn’t involve you colliding with something. Here again, it will only pay the ACV less your deductible, based on factory-standard parts.
- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist. There are plenty of people driving around out there who don’t bother to carry adequate or any insurance. UI/UIM will pay your medical bills, lost wages and other damages in the event you’re involved in an accident with such a person. Depending on your specific coverage, your UI/UIM may also take care of property damage including your bike.
- Personal Injury Protection. Also called PIP or no-fault insurance, this is required for passenger vehicles by a few states, but no-fault laws don’t always apply to motorcycles, and some states may even restrict motorcycle insurance companies from selling it to you. If you can buy it, it will typically cover injuries to you or a passenger, regardless of who caused an accident. It generally pays accident-related medical expenses including lost wages and funeral costs up to your policy’s limit. It won’t pay for damages you cause to other drivers.
Other Optional Coverages
There are a number of specialty insurance options, including coverage for customized bikes and bikes 25 years and older. Some optional coverages include higher limits on your state-mandated coverages, guest passenger liability, supplemental uninsured motorist (SUM), optional basic economic loss, towing and labor costs, and customer parts and equipment. Keep an eye out, too, for usage-based policies specifically for motorcycles. Also called Pay-As-You-Drive, they were being tested by Canadian Baseline Telematics in 2013. When and if they become available in the U.S., they could mean cheaper motorcycle insurance for you.
In the meantime, you can shop for motorcycle insurance online and compare quotes here.
 “Study: Motorcyclists Confused About Coverage,” http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2007/05/03/study--motorcyclists-confused-about-coverage
 “Time to hit the road: Motorcycle insurance coverage and options explained,” http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2015/04/07/time-to-hit-the-road-motorcycle-insurance-coverage