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12 Tips For Insuring Vintage or Classic Motorcycles

Tips for insuring your classic or vintage bike. Photo by Jan Morvan

Motorcycles, while not as expensive as cars, do represent a significant investment and motorcycle insurance is one of the ‘hidden costs’ of keeping them on the roads.

It’s particularly true when it comes to vintage bikes, and because of the perceived additional value of classic bikes, insurance rates for such motorcycles are naturally higher. A classic bike is often assigned a high monetary value and as such they’re more often targets for thieves.

If you’re considering the purchase of a vintage bike or starting a collection, here’s a series of tips to help you limit the cost of insuring them.

  1. If you don’t own the bike yet, then shop for the insurance first or at least concurrent with your purchase. Insurance is a major expense, so you need to know the full story of what kind of expenses will be associated with ownership. Depending on the make, model and year of the bike you have in mind, you might be in for a nasty shock when it comes time to pay the tab to insure your purchase…
  2. Don’t assume that because an insurance company offers insurance for motorcycles it will also offer insurance for bikes that are considered “classic” or “vintage.” Many companies don’t offer to insure them at all, and some of them charge higher rates for classic bikes.
  3. There are discounts available for vintage bikes because of the lower risk associated with this type of driving. So you should seek out an insurance company that offers this kind of discount.
  4. Many classic bike owners do not ride their bike often. There are weekend warrior discounts available. These discounts are getting quite good now that there are ways to track usage.
  5. Understand the concept of agreed value. This is the compromised between your perception of the bike’s value and the insurance company’s perception of the bike’s value. The agreed value can make a big difference in the long-term cost of the policy and the total coverage that is available.
  6. If you are buying insurance for a motorcycle or classic motorcycle for the first time, speak to an experienced rider in your area. They can help you avoid many of the most common pitfalls.
  7. Comparison-shop. Insurance rates for motorcycles fluctuate greatly, much more so than it does for standard cars. The worst thing you can do is settle on the first seemingly low rate you come across.
  8. Use the Internet. The competition among insurance companies is much higher online and thus rates are lower. You can always use the online quotes as a negotiating ploy with the local agent.
  9. Consider combining your insurance policies. Insurance companies provide major discounts when you combine bike insurance with car insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance and so forth.
  10. Consider limiting your overall costs by getting just the insurance that the law requires. You can also limit costs considerably by raising the deductibles as much as possible.
  11. Many owners take the position that they will not use the insurance to protect their investment. Long term, this approach can be considerably less expensive than full insurance.
  12. If you opt to protect your investment with the insurance, consider custom parts and equipment (CPE) insurance. It can increase the overall cost of the insurance dramatically. However, it is necessary when replacing or repairing vintage bikes that have special, custom and hard-to-find equipment.
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