Choosing the right insurance policy is much like choosing the right motorcycle. You want it to fit your needs and lifestyle, but at the same time be within your budget. Although most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, other types of coverage are usually optional. Always ask your insurance agent or company representative which laws apply in your state.
In order to find out what coverage is best for you, it is important to understand all the options available.
Liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to other people involved in an accident. It doesn't cover you or your motorcycle. Find out if your coverage includes Guest Passenger Liability, which provides protection in the event that a passenger is injured on the motorcycle. This will depend on the laws of your state and the company issuing the policy.
Collision insurance covers damage to your motorcycle if you are involved in an accident. Your insurance company pays for damages, minus your deductible, caused when you collide with another vehicle or object. Collision insurance usually covers the book value of the motorcycle before the loss occurred.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages caused by an event other than a collision, such as fire, theft or vandalism. Like collision coverage, your insurance company will pay for damages, minus your deductible, and will cover only the book value of the motorcycle.
Keep in mind most comprehensive and collision coverages will only cover the factory standard parts on your motorcycle. If you decide to add on any optional accessories such as chrome parts, a custom paint job, trailers or sidecars, consider additional equipment coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Uninsured/underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage covers damages to you and/or your property caused by another driver who either doesn't have insurance (uninsured) or doesn't have adequate insurance (underinsured).
This coverage typically pays for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages. In some cases your UM/UIM coverage includes property damage—check with your insurance professional to see if property damage is included or needs to be purchased separately.
Tips for the cost-conscious rider
Many factors can play a role in determining what your insurance costs will be such as your age, your driving record, where you live and the type of motorcycle you own, or being a graduate of a rider-training course.
- Many companies offer discounts to graduates of training courses, such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) rider course. This is particularly useful for riders under the age of 25, usually considered a higher risk. It’s also a good idea for riders who have already had accidents.
- Maintaining a good driving record with no violations will also help reduce your premiums.
- In many northern states, riders may save money by buying a “lay-up” policy. With a lay-up policy, all coverage except comprehensive is suspended during the winter months when the bike is not being used.
- Find out what discounts your insurance company can offer. A few possibilities include:
- Multibike discounts can deliver savings to riders insuring more than one bike.
- Members of motorcycle clubs or other associations may be eligible for organization discounts.
- And mature rider discounts can help experienced riders save money.
(Note that availability and qualifications for discounts vary from company to company and state to state.)
- Other things to keep in mind are the type, style (e.g. sport bike, cruiser, custom) and age of the motorcycle, as well as the number of miles you ride a year, and where you store your bike may also affect your insurance premiums.
Finally, it’s important to choose the insurance professional that’s right for you. If you already have auto insurance, try contacting the same insurer. Otherwise, ask friends, relatives and co-workers where they bought their auto or motorcycle insurance. Your local motorcycle shop may have a company they refer customers to. Or you can check local motorcycle magazines and newspapers motorcycle insurance ads.