If you drive a motorcycle, you know that it offers a totally different experience than driving a car. So, it should come as no surprise that buying the right motorcycle insurance policy can be totally different than buying coverage for your car!
First and foremost, how much liability coverage does the State of California require?
This is the one thing that cars and motorcycles have in common. The state-mandated minimum for motorcycle liability insurance is:
- $15,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $30,000 for the injury or death of more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
In addition to having liability coverage, the State of California requires motorcycle owners to do one more thing — wear a helmet at all times (and make your passengers wear their helmets, too!). In some states, you’re not required to wear a helmet if you purchase a certain amount of extra insurance coverage, but that’s not the case here in the Golden State.
What happens if you choose to ride your motorcycle without insurance?
Some motorcycle owners don’t see the point in buying insurance. After all, they’re just “weekend riders” who take a short ride up the coast or a quick spin around town. Why spend your hard-earned money insuring something that you hardly use, right? WRONG…
Foregoing motorcycle insurance can cost you big in the end!
Under California’s Prop 213, if you don’t have at least the state-mandated insurance coverage, you’ll forfeit your right to make a claim if you’re ever injured in a crash. Specifically, you won’t be able to recover any money for the inconvenience, pain, and suffering you were subjected to as a result of the accident.
Like it or not, you face a much higher risk of being injured or killed out on your motorcycle. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle riders are 26 times more likely to die in a crash than people riding in cars. And, if you ride a lighter sport motorcycle, you’re twice as likely to be killed in a crash than someone on a cruiser or standard bike.
What about coverage that goes above and beyond the state-mandated minimum?
Just like with your traditional vehicle, there are certain types of motorcycle insurance that are a good idea to have just in case the worst happens — like uninsured motorist coverage, under-insured motorist coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage.
But because motorcycles tend to come with custom accessories and upgrades that other vehicles don’t, it’s also a good idea to include custom parts and equipment coverage to your policy. On most standard motorcycle insurance policies, you might get a few hundred dollars worth of coverage — or a few thousand dollars, if you’re lucky — but that will likely only cover a fraction of the money you’ve put into customizing your motorcycle! By getting a custom accessories add-on to your policy, you can rest easy knowing that extras like your audio system, your seat heater, your custom paint job, and your chrome will be taken care of if they’re ever damaged or stolen.
(Not sure exactly how many upgrades you’ve got? Just compare your motorcycle to the manufacturer’s stock specifications. That’s the easiest way to see how much extra coverage you need!)
You’ll also need to check with your agent to see if your passengers’ injuries will be covered through your standard policy. If they’re not, you’ll want to consider buying extra guest passenger liability coverage so that you’re not personally responsible for the medical costs they incur if they’re injured on your motorcycle — or the legal bills if they decide to sue you.
What about discounts?
If you already have insurance on your “regular” vehicle, you probably know there’s a variety of ways to save money on your policy. However, there are a few motorcycle-specific discounts that you should talk to your agent about. After all, every little bit of savings helps! Here are some of the most common:
- Riding association discounts, which are designed for members of the American Motorcycle Association, BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, Gold Wing Touring or Road Riders Association, Harley Owners Group, Honda Riders Club of America, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and Motorcycle Touring Association.
- Safety course discounts, meaning that you’ve completed an approved course recently (usually within the past few years).
- A layup discount, which applies to motorcycles that are stored and not in use during specific times of the year.
If you can’t get a layup discount — and you really do only use your motorcycle during certain times of the year — talk to your agent about the possibility of switching your insurance to comprehensive-only when it’s not in use. That way, your motorcycle will be covered if it gets stolen or damaged by Mother Nature, but you won’t be forking over money for liability coverage and collision coverage when the bike isn’t going anywhere.
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