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Motorcycle Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/23/2011

7 Essentials for Motorcycle Insurance: The perfect introduction for anyone considering a bike.

Ready to Ride?

Ready to Ride? Don't forget your insurance binder.

Before you get motorcycle insurance, consider this situation:

You can almost smell the open road.  That down payment is burning a hole in your pocket.  You’ve been eyeing that new soft-tail for months, and you’re ready to plunk down a wad of cash and ride into the sunset.

Before you buy that new Harley Screamin’ Eagle or Ducati 848, you need to get motorcycle insurance.  In fact, dealers won’t even let you drive your new bike off the lot until you provide them proof of your bike insurance, called a binder.

I spoke with Darla Mason at Wild West Harley-Davidson in Lubbock, Texas, about motorcycle insurance.  “You gotta have it.  Unless you’re paying cash, you’ll need a binder from a company before you can take the bike.”

Besides simply needing motorcycle insurance, what should you know?  I found 7 things riders should know when shopping for coverage.

1. Good Driving Has Its Own Rewards

All at-fault accidents and tickets count.  It doesn’t matter if you just picked up your bike, motorcycle insurance companies count every incident you’ve had (usually in a 3-year period) even if it’s in your car.  Stay clean and you’ll pay less money for your motorcycle insurance.

2.  Get Comprehensive and Collision

Every motorcycle insurance policy includes basic liability.  But unless you’re paying cash for your bike and you don’t mind losing the bike in an accident, get “full-coverage” for your new ride.  Collision covers your bike if you’re in an at-fault accident and comprehensive covers your cruiser in any incident other than collision.  Both coverages pay out minus your deductible.

3. Gap Insurance – What’s That?

Comprehensive and collision coverage in your motorcycle insurance only pay out what your bike is worth at the time of the accident.  If you total your bike and you owe more than your bike is worth, then you’ll still owe the balance on your financing.

Gap insurance is different from motorcycle insurance.  Gap insurance covers the ‘gap in coverage’ between what your bike is worth and what your insurance company pays after a total loss.  Finance companies typically offer this coverage.  Get it if you’re worried about paying extra if your bike is totaled.

4. Where Do You Ride and Where Do You Park?

You may just ride on the weekend – if so, tell the agent who gives you a quote.  Whether or not you commute to work on your bike can make a big difference for the price of your motorcycle insurance.

Same with where you park.  Additional discounts can be available whether or not you store your bike in a garage.  We all know how unattended bikes have a tendency to ride off by themselves – it makes sense for motorcycle insurance companies to give a discount to owners of garaged bikes.

One more bonus for riders in northern states.  You could be eligible for a “lay-up” policy, where most coverage is suspended during the winter months.  That translates to extra money in your pocket.

5. Motorcycles Need Chrome Coverage?

Motorcycle insurance usually does not cover additional parts like chrome air filters or saddlebags.  If you want extras like paint jobs or sidecars covered, then make sure you talk to your agent about additional equipment or optional coverage.  There’s nothing like losing your favorite custom mirrors (and then some) after laying down your bike only to find out they weren’t covered under normal comprehensive.  Make sure all your extras have coverage.

6. Get All Your Discounts!

If you’ve taken a motorcycle safety course, you could be eligible for a 10-20% discount.  When you’re getting quotes for your motorcycle insurance, ask about discounts.  That could be another $100 in your pocket at the end of the year – it’s definitely worth asking.

7. Shop Around – Big Time!

This is the most important part to getting the cheapest motorcycle insurance.  After going through this checklist and getting a quote, do it again.   The more quotes you get, the more money you’re likely to save.  Darla Mason said some of her customers save $500 after shopping their motorcycle insurance.

At the least, get 3 quotes from reputable motorcycle insurance companies.  You can also check with your current car insurance company – though they’re not always likely to have the best rates for motorcycle insurance.  Make sure each company quotes the same coverage, then go with the best.  If you want to shop online, get a quote for motorcycle insurance here.

After getting your binder, you’re ready to go.  Turn the key, hear that sweet hum of the engine, then give her some gas.  But don’t go too fast…I was an insurance agent after all.

Do you ride?  If so, you may have some additional tips for other bike owners.
Feel free to leave a comment.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He's worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook. Connect with Tood on Google+

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