What Is Motorcycle Insurance?

Motorcycle insurance is a type of vehicle insurance specifically for motorcycles as opposed to cars, trucks, and other automobiles. As with auto insurance, motorcycle riders are required to carry the state's minimum limits of liability.
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What Is Motorcycle Insurance?

Written by Brian Greenberg
CEO / Founder & Licensed Insurance Agent

Last updated: September 27th, 2022

Reviewed by Grant Desselle
Licensed Insurance Agent

What Does Motorcycle Insurance Cover?

At a minimum, motorcycle insurance pays for the bodily injuries and property damages of the other vehicle involved in an accident if you, the motorcycle rider, are determined to be at fault. Your motorcycle insurance may also cover damages to your bike and pay for bodily injuries sustained by yourself and a passenger. If the motorcycle has a sidecar attached, collision coverage typically extends to that as well.

The following table lists what’s typically included on a full-coverage motorcycle insurance policy.

What Does Motorcycle Insurance Cover?

CoverageWhat It Covers
Bodily injury liability If you’re at fault in an accident, this covers medical expenses and lost wages for the other party. It won’t cover your medical bills, but in some states, it can pay for some of your passenger’s medical expenses.
Property damage liability Property damage liability pays for damage you caused to another vehicle when you’re at fault in an accident. It can also pay for the damages you may cause to other people’s property, such as their home, a store or other structures.
Medical payments Expenses related to injuries sustained by you, the rider, or your passengers are primarily covered by medical payments. This coverage commonly pays for X-rays and ambulance costs.
CollisionCollision coverage pays for physical damages to a motorcycle when hitting another vehicle or object such as a tree or building.
ComprehensiveYour comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your bike that weren’t caused by other objects or vehicles. Fire, theft, and vandalism typically fall under comprehensive coverage, as well as collisions with animals. Other examples include falling trees and broken glass. Generally, comprehensive claims are damages to your bike that were almost entirely outside of your control.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury If you’re involved in an accident and the other motorist is at fault, but they either don’t have insurance or don’t carry enough insurance to pay for your medical expenses, this coverage kicks in to cover the overage. Some states and policies also offer UM/UIM property damage coverage.

Not every state requires the inclusion of the same types of coverage in a policy, and even the minimum required limits vary between states. Maine, for example, requires that riders carry bodily injury and property damage liability, medical payments, and underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist coverage, while Alabama only requires its insureds to have bodily injury and property damage liability coverage.

Many riders may want to consider adding a few optional coverages to their policies. The most common are:

  • Rental reimbursement. Rental reimbursement coverage helps offset the cost of renting a vehicle if your bike is stolen or in the shop being repaired.
  • Towing. If your motorcycle breaks down or is involved in an accident and can’t safely be ridden, towing coverage reimburses you for some or all of your tow truck bill. Labor costs for getting your motorcycle up and running are usually included with this coverage as well.
  • Trailer coverage. If you’re hauling your bike in a trailer and the trailer is damaged in a collision, this coverage helps pay for the cost of repairing it.
  • Added equipment. Added equipment coverage is recommended if you’ve purchased aftermarket parts to customize or upgrade your motorcycle. Examples include crash bars and custom seats.

Who Needs Motorcycle Insurance?

Florida is the only state that doesn’t require motorcycle insurance. For the rest of the United States, anyone riding a motorcycle on public roads is required to have an active motorcycle insurance policy.

Why Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance?

One of the most important reasons to carry motorcycle insurance is if you cause an accident while riding a motorcycle. Without insurance, the other party can sue you personally to recoup their financial losses due to medical bills and vehicle repairs. They can also sue you for their lost wages from the time they’re unable to work, which could range from weeks to months. Depending on the severity of the accident, these costs may be upward of hundreds of thousands of dollars and even into the millions. Without insurance, you could be held legally responsible for paying a bill that very few Americans can afford.

Additionally, you’ll want coverage in case someone else hits you while you’re riding your motorcycle. Because of how exposed they are, it’s not uncommon for motorcyclists to have serious injuries when involved in an accident. Insurance can help pay for your medical bills and get your bike back to its former running condition or reimburse you so you can replace it with another of similar value.

Can You Ride a Motorcycle Without Insurance?

Florida is the only state where it’s legal to ride a motorcycle on public roads and highways without a motorcycle insurance policy. In all other parts of the country, getting caught riding a motorcycle without insurance can result in hefty fines and negative points on your driving record. This could lead to paying higher insurance costs later and other unfortunate consequences such as revoked driving privileges.

Can You Get Motorcycle Insurance Without a License?

Some insurers may allow you to purchase motorcycle insurance without a license, but most want to see you have an active driver’s license as well as a motorcycle endorsement before insuring you. A few insurers may accept motorcycle riders who only have a driver’s permit.

Another option may be to exclude yourself as a rider. Perhaps, if you only plan on being a passenger on the bike and your partner or a friend will be the primary rider, it can make sense to purchase an insurance policy for a motorcycle that you won’t drive.

How Much Does Motorcycle Insurance Cost?

Motorcycle insurance varies between states. The following table lists the average monthly and annual premiums motorcycle riders pay across the United States. Because some insurers offer discounts when premiums are paid in full, some of the annual costs listed are higher than what many riders may be paying.

How Much Does Motorcycle Insurance Cost?

State Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Alabama$65 $780
Alaska $45 $540
Arizona $65 $780
Arkansas$70 $840
California$155 $1,860
Colorado $55 $660
Delaware $70$840
New Hampshire$55$660
New Jersey$55$660
New Mexico$55$660
New York$60$720
North Carolina$80$960
North Dakota$30$360
Rhode Island$80$960
South Carolina$65$780
South Dakota$40$480
West Virginia$50$600

Can You Bundle Motorcycle Insurance With Car Insurance?

Nearly all insurers offering motorcycle and other types of insurance encourage you to bundle your policies to save on your premiums. Below, we’ve listed a few insurers that advertise discounts on motorcycle insurance when their policyholders bundle it with other types of insurance such as home and auto:

  • Progressive
  • Allstate
  • Geico
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Nationwide

What Factors Can Affect Motorcycle Insurance Premiums?

The main aspects affecting premiums are the rider’s age, the type of motorcycle, and the rider’s personal driving record. In most states, gender also impacts policy premiums, and whether you’re riding as a commuter or simply for pleasure can make your premium rise or fall.

  • Age. As with car insurance, younger riders pay more for their motorcycle insurance than older riders. It’s generally understood that younger riders are less experienced and take more risks, and considering that motorcycle accidents are 27 times more likely to be fatal for the rider than car drivers, insurers are keen to manage this area of risk.
  • Location. If you live in a place where your insurance company has historically seen greater losses, you usually pay more for your coverage than someone who lives in a lower-loss area. Premium variances can be seen in distances as small as a few miles.
  • Type of motorcycle. The type of bike can play a large part in the premium you pay. All else being equal, insurers generally charge different premiums for sport bikes, cruisers, and touring motorcycles. Additional factors include a bike’s safety features and, of course, its value. Generally, sport bikes are more costly to insure because they’re often ridden in a more risky fashion (higher speeds), and they tend to be among the more expensive bikes on the road.
  • Motorcycle theft rate. Bikes that are frequently stolen tend to be more expensive to insure because, in the eyes of the insurer, there’s a greater likelihood they’ll need to pay out for a comprehensive claim. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the most commonly stolen bikes are produced by Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, in that order.
  • Driving Record. Typically, the more infractions on your driving record, the higher your premium will be. Insurance companies see at-fault accidents and traffic violations as evidence of high-risk driving habits that increase the odds that insuring you will cost them more in claims.

What Are the Best Companies for Motorcycle Insurance?

What may be the best motorcycle insurance company for one rider may be among the worst for another. It depends on the individual’s budget and coverage needs. The chart below lists some of the best companies for insuring motorcycles and why you may want to consider them.

What Are the Best Companies for Motorcycle Insurance?

Insurance Company Why We Like Them
Harley-DavidsonAttractive coverage for inexperienced riders
SafecoEasy to insure custom and homemade motorcycles
ProgressiveLenient accident forgiveness
NationwideRobust coverage for collectors
MarkelGreat coverage for mechanical issues
ForemostOffers coverage for motorcycles taken to the track

Where Can You Get a Quote for Motorcycle Insurance?

Getting a quote for motorcycle insurance can be quick and easy. The best way to get a quote from multiple insurers is by either calling a local independent agent who can place coverage through different carriers or by visiting an online quote service. You can also contact insurers directly.

Any insurance service will ask you to provide key information about your driving history, the type of motorcycle you own, and your riding habits. Multiple quote services then send that information to different insurers to obtain quotes.

Whether you go over the phone, online, or drive to the nearest offices of different insurance companies, if you have your payment information handy, you can usually start coverage right away.

Key Takeaways About Motorcycle Insurance

Getting a full-coverage motorcycle insurance policy is one of the best decisions you can make to safeguard your riding career. It reduces and can often eliminate your personal liability if you’re involved in an accident and found to be at fault, and with a full-coverage policy, your motorcycle insurance can help pay for your bike’s repairs and cover some of your medical expenses too.

With comprehensive coverage, your policy can help you purchase another motorcycle if your current bike is stolen or damaged beyond repair due to fire or a flood. A higher premium doesn’t always mean a better policy. The best motorcycle insurance for you ultimately depends on the type of bike you have and whether you’ll be sufficiently covered to ride it the way you like.

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