Many bikers probably wouldn’t place motorcycle insurance at the top of their priority lists before hitting the open road. But that attitude can lead to serious problems, especially related to a biker's health and finances.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says more than 7.7 million motorcycles were on U.S. roads in 2008. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the chance of being killed in a motorcycle crash in 2008 was 39 times greater than being killed in a car or truck crash.
In light of those odds, bikers should take a closer look at motorcycle insurance. Auto insurance companies normally offer motorcycle coverage as a stand-alone policy or as an add-on to a personal auto policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Liability coverage required in most states
Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, says most states insist that bikers carry liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage to other people in the event of an accident. This liability insurance, however, does not cover the motorcyclist’s own bike, property or body in the event of a crash.
Self-coverage usually comes in the form of first-party medical coverage, a viable option for bikers who want to protect their well-being.
“We always advocate that motorcycle owners shop around for the best insurance at the best price,” says Peter terHorst, a spokesman for the American Motorcycle Association. “But consumers should definitely look into medical emergency insurance. For $400 or so per month, you can usually get good coverage.”
Your insurance shopping trip
To get rolling, experts suggest keeping your motorcycle insurance shopping experience manageable. Start by limiting the number of insurers you consider.
“It’s a good idea to request and study quotes from three insurance companies before selecting a policy,” says John Stein, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles. “Find out the cost of insurance before selecting your motorcycle – some models are more expensive to insure, and some machines are more likely to be stolen than others.”
Experts advise bikers to consider three types of option motorcycle coverage: collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorist.
Collision insurance covers damage to your motorcycle if you're involved in an accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for non-collision damage caused by such things as fire, theft and vandalism. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you and your property if damage is caused by another motorist who lacks insurance or has inadequate insurance.
“Make sure your policy includes adequate medical coverage for your and a passenger, in the event you're hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver,” Stein says.
When shopping for motorcycle insurance, be sure you have in hand your driver's license number and your bike's VIN (vehicle identification number).
Raleigh Floyd Jr., a spokesman for Allstate, says: “Many companies can give you a quote without an accurate VIN, but some companies like Allstate can use the VIN to look up safety equipment on your bike that will provide you with additional discounts."
You might be entitled to discounts
Floyd also urges motorcycle owners to know the value of every last piece of metal, steel or rubber on their bikes.
“Riders often make modifications to their bikes after they are purchased from the manufacturer. All of the accessories and your riding gear add to the value of the bike if there is an accident and you are looking for reimbursement,” Floyd says.
Floyd says Allstate's motorcycle policy covers all of these things up to $30,000.
Allstate offers price breaks to bikers who belong to national groups like the American Motorcycle Association. Bikers also can earn a 5 percent to 20 percent discount on insurance by taking a motorcycle safety course. To find a safety course in your state, visit the website of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Insurance companies frequently will give discounts for having policies grouped together, so consider getting a quote for more than just motorcycle coverage.