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Buyer's Guide to Motorcycle Insurance


Okay!  You’re finally ready to go get that sexy cruiser you’ve had your eye on for months.  You’ve done all your research (on Motorcycle.com, obviously), found the best price at a reputable dealership, you’ve even checked out helmets and found a riding jacket that perfectly matches your new bad-ass image.  Whew!  You’re shopping is officially done, right?

Wrong!  It’s just the start if you have yet to check out your Insurance options.  Know this: motorcyclists cannot operate their bikes on public roads or highways without insurance.  There are penalties for riding un-insured, not the least of which is getting ticketed for not having liability insurance.  In certain states, such as California, you can’t even purchase a new bike without your insurance lined up.

Let the Insurance Shopping Marathon begin.

Just like Loans, the more you shop around, the better your chances of getting the best insurance rate.  There are a billion insurance companies out there, so start by asking your home and auto insurance agent about motorcycle insurance.  If the company doesn’t offer it, ask your neighbor with the shiny new Kawi Ninja what company he uses.  Search motorcycle websites and forums for rider recommendations.  Finally, with your list of ‘A’ and ‘B’ companies on hand, dedicate a day to call as many insurance agents as you can.

But wait!!  There are some answers you’ll want to have ready once you’re talking insurance plans and rates with an agent.  Here, a little preparation goes a long way in making the best impression (which results in an ideal rate) on an insurance agent.  Know what they’ll ask before you pick up the phone.

    1. Your Personal Liabilities

Just like with Auto insurance, your age and your driving record are key factors.  Auto accidents do count when buying motorcycle insurance.  If you’re older but a first-time rider, you will likely have a higher rate.  However, you might be able to offset that by investing in special DMV or motorcycle classes – just be sure to hang on to your certification for proof.

    2. They know where you live

Working or living in a high crime/ high accident area can affect your rate.  Have a plan for how you’ll store the bike.  A garage, an alarm, or any other form of security for your parked bike is necessary no matter where you live.  A bike that spends most of it’s time in an open, unsecured area is clearly a risk for any insurance company to take on. 

    3. The Bike

Just like in auto insurance, that glitzy, brand-spankin’ new model is going to cost more to insure that an older stock bike.

    4. How much you ride

If you live in the part of the country that has a definite riding ‘season’, make this apparent to your agent.  By only using your bike for half the year, your mileage stays low and your rate usually will follow suit.

    5. Lastly, avoid over-insuring, since you’ll never get more than the market value of your bike in the event of an accident.

Bear in mind that the rate is not based solely on your bike, but also your lifestyle, your riding habits, and your history.   Once that is out of the way, you need to pick an insurance plan. 

3rd Party Liability: Insurance that covers other people and their property in the event of an accident that is your fault.  Instead of you personally paying for the damage to the other party’s property, your insurance pays the bill.  It doesn’t cover damage to you or your property.  Most states require you to have at least liability insurance on your bike.

Full Coverage Insurance: (also called “comprehensive”) is available in different amounts, and will cover you and your property in an accident, whether the event was your fault, someone else’s, or “no-fault”.  Full coverage also extends to any passengers on your bike present in the accident.

Look into a combination of liability insurance and comprehensive insurance

This will provide you with the most coverage overall in the event of a mishap.

Essentially, know your basics, know what to expect, and make sure that you understand the details of any insurance package you are purchasing.  Although no one wants to get in an accident, they happen to the best of us, and the whole experience can be a lot less painful if you’ve got a good insurance plan to back you up.