Sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of buying the best motorcycle insurance policy for your needs. People who might spend hours researching insurance for a minivan that carries children to school may settle for the first inexpensive motorcycle policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements. This may become a devastating mistake, however, if something goes wrong.
Every vehicle operated on the road — motorcycles included — harbors the potential to inflict injury on other people, property or its own driver. This risk remains true no matter how carefully or responsibly a person may drive. Common sense, therefore, as well as state law, requires each driver to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance.
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Various components of motorcycle insurance provide safeguards for your financial assets if you are involved in an accident. The insurance policy may cover your liability and pay for resulting damages or lawsuits arising from the incident. This also protects other drivers, passengers and pedestrians from economic losses for injuries or property damage.
With so much at stake, finding the best insurance coverage for the money becomes a top priority. Whether this is your first foray into motorcycle ownership or you are upgrading to a larger, more powerful bike, you should typically investigate insurance coverage and costs before you make a final decision about your purchase. This helps you calculate the total cost of ownership up front.
Shopping for motorcycle insurance presents many challenges, but these 10 pointers may help you organize your search and zero in on the best policy for your situation. You can definitely take steps to help control premium costs, but you also need to reduce risks by purchasing adequate coverage.
First off, foregoing insurance is not an option. State law requires it. While the details and amounts vary, every state requires a motorcycle operator to purchase liability insurance to protect others on the road.
Various states may also require guest passenger liability coverage — in some cases, your liability insurance may not automatically cover passengers on the back seat of your bike. In other cases, the bodily injury liability part of your policy may include your passenger. You will need to carefully check the policy declarations or contact your insurance agent to be sure this coverage is in place.
If you own your own motorcycle outright, you can choose whether to buy collision and comprehensive insurance. If you borrowed money to buy your bike, however, the bank or finance company may require you to purchase these components to protect their investment in case of damage from an accident, theft or vandalism.
You may find it tempting to sign up for the cheapest motorcycle policy that meets state requirements and lets you legally ride, but you need more protection than that. Stop and think of all the expenses that could result if you are at fault for an accident.
You may be liable for damages to other person’s vehicles, as well as harm to buildings, signs and other equipment. Even more disturbing, there may be injuries to others — potentially involving hospitalization and numerous medical expenses. Given the high costs of vehicles and medical care, the paltry minimum limits of required liability insurance may not even begin to cover all these expenditures. Remember, if you are at fault for the accident, you may have to pay out of your own pocket for everything not covered by your insurance policy.
Purchasing medical payments insurance helps cover expenses for your own injuries in a motorcycle accident, even if you caused the collision. Keep in mind that your liability bodily injury insurance only covers medical expenses for others, not for you. Even if you have a good health insurance policy through your employer, adding medical payments insurance to your motorcycle policy still may make sense. If your health insurance has a significant deductible and co-pay, the medical payments insurance may cover these. Most motorcycle medical payments also provide compensation for dental repair, psychiatric and trauma counseling, prescriptions and home nursing, which your regular health insurance may not cover.
If you cause an accident with your motorcycle, your liability insurance kicks in to cover damages to other vehicles and property, as well as expenses for bodily injuries of other people. If you want protection for your own motorcycle, however, you will need to purchase collision insurance. In addition, you can buy comprehensive coverage to pay for damages or replacement of your motorcycle in the event of fire, weather damage, vandalism, theft or animals.
Premiums for comprehensive and collision insurance often comprise well over half the total cost of your insurance. You should check your motorcycle’s value against the price of major repairs and calculate whether paying the premiums makes economic sense.
In case of an accident, the insurance company will use a standardized rating system, such as the Kelley Blue Book, to figure out the appraised price of your motorcycle. They will also consider the condition of your bike. Even if estimated repair costs run significantly more than your motorcycle’s current worth, the insurance company will only pay the bike’s present value.
Collision and comprehensive policies generally do not cover accessories or customization added after the motorcycle exits the factory. For this reason, you need insurance for aftermarket parts and equipment to cover such accessories as trailers, sidecars, custom painting, conversions or plated parts. If you purchase CPE insurance for your motorcycle, make sure you document all the special parts, accessories and paint you add with receipts and photographs.
If you take frequent road trips, roadside assistance insurance can literally save your vacation, not to mention your pocketbook. While policies can differ, roadside assistance insurance typically covers towing costs, roadside repairs, tire repair or replacement, lost keys and fuel delivery if you run out.
Although state laws mandate that all motorists carry insurance, the sad truth remains that not everyone complies with the law. It may seem unfair that you have to buy insurance to protect yourself from those who do not, but it may turn out to be a wise decision. Uninsured motorist insurance, along with its cousin underinsured motorist insurance, will pay for your property damage and medical costs in the event that the other driver either does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for your expenses.
One of the things an insurance company looks at when setting your premiums is the vehicle you are insuring. The size, type and age of your motorcycle can all affect the amount you pay. Large or high-performance engines will typically up your premiums. If you are buying collision insurance, a brand-new luxury motorcycle will require higher premiums than an older standard model.
Understandably, factors such as your accident history and driving record influence the amount you pay for insurance coverage. It may be harder to understand why your gender, marital status and your home address play a part in setting your premiums.
Insurance companies look at statistics and previous claims to determine risk. Other personal factors that may influence premiums include age, the annual mileage you put on your motorcycle and your credit score.
Many insurance companies offer discounts that may add up to substantial savings. Since these savings vary from carrier to carrier, you generally want to determine the final premium after discounts for each company before you make price comparisons. Start with quotes from your auto and home insurance carriers, since many companies reward multi-policy customers. Here are some of the promotions you may find available.
- Safe rider
- Anti-theft device
- Mature rider
- Motorcycle riding group
- Safety course completion
You can implement these suggestions immediately.
- Pay your premium annually instead of monthly.
- Rent a garage for your motorcycle or install an anti-theft device.
- Select a higher deductible.
- Ride your motorcycle less often.
- Get a smaller bike.
These suggestions take more time but definitely pay off.
- Improve your driving record
- Take a safety course.
- Improve your credit rating.
Finding the best motorcycle insurance may provide economic security, fulfill your duty as a responsible rider and provide you with peace of mind. Take the time to investigate all your options. Develop a good relationship with your insurance company and its representative agents. Then, get on your bike and enjoy the ride.