A Complete Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

Insurance, Other Vehicle Insurance
motorcycle insurance

Whether you’re a road warrior seeking adventure or you’re just looking for a way to get around town, there’s nothing quite like driving a motorcycle.

As you would with a car, you’ll need insurance if you want to protect yourself, your passengers and your investment. And just as you’d shop around for auto insurance quotes, you’ll want to find the best insurance for your bike. Here’s NerdWallet’s guide to understanding motorcycle insurance.

In this article

Motorcycle insurance basics
Motorcycle insurance coverage options
Motorcycle insurance lay-up periods
Motorcycle insurance discounts
Insurance for destroyed or stolen bikes
Where to buy motorcycle insurance

Motorcycle insurance basics

Motorcycle insurance is required in all states except Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire and Washington, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Liability coverage, which is almost always required, pays out for others’ injuries or damages if you cause an accident. The lowest amount of liability insurance you must buy for your motorcycle is the same as your state’s car insurance minimum requirements.  Florida also requires you carry a minimum $10,000 in medical benefits, which can come from your health insurance.

Consider buying extra liability beyond your state’s minimum requirements to protect your assets in case you’re sued over an accident. Minimum liability limits might not be enough to pay your legal costs and claims if you’re sued, and creditors could go after some of your assets. Also, check with your insurance company to be sure your bodily injury liability insurance covers passengers; in some states, you might need passenger liability coverage to insure them.

Some states also require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage pays out for injuries resulting from an accident caused by a driver who’s uninsured or who doesn’t have enough insurance. Uninsured/underinsured coverage can include property damage, but with some insurers you might need to buy it separately. Check with your agent.

Motorcycle insurance coverage options

Coverage options for motorcycle insurance are similar to the standard ones you’ll find for auto insurance. In addition to liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, most insurers offer these options:

  • Collision: Pays out for damage to your motorcycle, minus your deductible amount. A deductible is the amount you select when you buy your policy that’s deducted from a claim check.
  • Comprehensive: Pays out if your motorcycle is stolen or damaged by something other than a collision with another vehicle. Animal collisions are covered. A deductible applies.
  • Medical payments (MedPay): Not available in all states, medical payments coverage pays for medical bills if you and your passenger are injured in an accident. Unlike personal injury protection, medical payments coverage doesn’t cover lost wages and other costs. Let’s state the obvious: Driving or riding a motorcycle comes with risks, no matter how careful you are. Medical payments coverage can come in handy if you don’t have health insurance or you don’t have enough.
  • Personal injury protection: Generally pays out for medical bills for injuries you, your passenger or pedestrians suffer in an accident regardless of who’s at fault. (Rules vary by state.) Although some insurers offer PIP, some states may not allow insurance companies to sell the coverage to motorcyclists because of their high rate of accidents.

Insurance companies typically offer add-on options, although some may offer one or more as part of their standard policies. For some of these, limits and deductibles apply.

  • Trip interruption coverage: Pays out for lodging, transportation and food if your bike is disabled in a collision far from home, usually defined in your policy as 100 miles or more.
  • Coverage for custom parts, equipment and accessories: In most states, insurers include some custom parts and accessories coverage with comprehensive and collision insurance — typically up to $3,000, though the amount can vary. For many riders, however, customizing a bike is part of the lure of owning a motorcycle. If the chrome parts, saddlebags and personal touches you add to your bike are worth more, you can buy additional accessories coverage, usually up to $30,000.
  • Transport trailer coverage: Many insurance companies offer coverage for trailers valued at up to $7,500.
  • Roadside assistance: Includes towing and labor at the site of your bike’s breakdown.

Motorcycle insurance lay-up periods

Many insurers offer what is called lay-up insurance during winter, when many drivers put their motorcycles away. During the lay-up period, insurance still covers you against theft and other events that can happen while your bike is in storage. Lay-up coverage saves on your annual insurance costs, but keep in mind that if you take the bike out on the road during the lay-up period, insurance won’t cover you in an accident.

Motorcycle insurance discounts

Many insurance companies offer a discount for carrying motorcycle insurance and one other type of insurance policy with them, such as auto or homeowners insurance.

Ask your insurance company about other common motorcycle insurance discounts, including price breaks for not having at-fault accidents or moving violations, insuring more than one vehicle with the same insurer or belonging to a motorcycle riders organization.

Insurance for destroyed or stolen bikes

One of the most important things to understand about your motorcycle policy is how it pays out if your bike is destroyed or stolen. There are three types of settlements. These are:

  • Actual cash value: Pays out the cash value of what your bike is worth, minus depreciation and your deductible.
  • Stated amount: Pays the amount you selected when you bought the policy.
  • Agreed value: Pays the amount you and the insurance company agreed on when you bought the policy. The amount remains fixed, and no deductible is taken from a claim check. Owners of custom or classic bikes are generally offered agreed value or stated amount coverage.

Where to buy motorcycle insurance

Many of the nation’s biggest auto insurance sellers also carry motorcycle insurance; some offer it as an endorsement, or addition, to your auto policy if you have one. Among the top 25 top auto insurance sellers, NerdWallet found these that also sell motorcycle insurance:


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AAA

  • Motorcycle coverage provides up to four roadside assistance calls and other benefits, including free fuel, up to $75 in locksmith services and up to 100 miles of towing. Availability varies by state.

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Allstate

  • Your insurance cost stays the same after your first accident if your Allstate motorcycle policy is at least 4 years old. Other conditions also apply.
  • Offers a death and dismemberment package, which costs extra, provides cash benefits if you’re in a serious or fatal accident.

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American Family

  • Basic policy covers custom accessories, including chrome, seat and paint, for up to $3,000. Higher limits are available.
  • You could qualify for a discount if you bundle your homeowners and motorcycle policies with American Family.

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Amica

  • Offers discounts for insuring more than one motorcycle, adding another type of policy with Amica, taking a safety course and having anti-lock braces and anti-theft devices. Discount availability varies by state.

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Auto-Owners

  • In addition to motorcycles, offers coverage for mopeds, motor bikes and scooters.
  • In some states, Auto-Owners gives you a price break if you don’t ride during the winter.

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Country Financial

  • In cold-weather states, Country Financial insurance gives you a price break if you ride only part of the year.
  • Offers up to a 25% discount on motorcycle insurance when you add homeowners insurance or another policy.

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Erie

  • Pays up to $3,000 for damage to gear and safety apparel. You can pay more to increase your limit.
  • Offers roadside assistance coverage that pays for towing and labor if your bike breaks down.

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Farmers

  • Unlike insurers that provide only seasonal coverage, Farmers covers you for year-round driving.
  • Farmers offers several added options, including coverage up to $7,500 for your transport trailer, and trip interruption coverage, which pays for expenses if your trip is cut short because your bike is damaged.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

Geico

  • Covers accessories such as CB radios, chrome pieces and saddlebags, but you must carry either comprehensive or collision coverage.
  • Geico offers a number of discounts, including for experienced, older drivers and for renewing your motorcycle policy with the insurer.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

Liberty Mutual

  • If your motorcycle is destroyed, Better Bike Replacement coverage pays out for a bike that’s one year newer and has 2,500 fewer miles.
  • Offers new motorcycle replacement coverage reimburses you for a new bike, with no depreciation. Pays out when your motorcycle is stolen or destroyed within the first year.

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National General

  • Waives your deductible up to $250 if you’re unhappy with how your claim was handled.
  • Not available in Texas.
  • Says it pays out most minor claims within 48 hours. Covers safety apparel and custom accessories up to $2,000.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

Nationwide Insurance

  • Nationwide insures motorcycles and custom bikes for up to $50,000.
  • Provides coverage up to $30,000 is available for vintage bikes.
  • For every year you go without an accident, Nationwide decreases your deductible by $100.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

Progressive

  • Progressive’s standard motorcycle coverage pays to repair your damaged motorcycle with new parts and no deduction for depreciation.
  • Accidents costing $500 or less in damage don’t count against your record, and rates stay the same.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

State Farm

  • Offers coverage for a variety of motorcycles, including classic and custom motorcycles, factory-built motorcycles, trail bikes, mini-bikes and motor scooters.
  • Offers emergency roadside assistance, protective gear coverage and coverage to pay for expenses when a trip is interrupted due to motorcycle damage.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Juan Castillo

USAA

  • Members get a 5% discount on motorcycle insurance.
  • Roadside assistance is included in the policy.
  • Discounts available for having a claims-free driving record, for insuring more than one bike with USAA and for passing a driver safety course.
Get started USAA is open only to active military members, veterans and their families.

Juan Castillo is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: jcastillo@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @JCastilloNerd.

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