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Motorcycle Insurance Made Simple The Top Ten Tips For Buying Motorcycle Insurance

Will submitting a claim on my motorcycle insurance policy make my rates go up?

Not an easy question, but the quick answer is: maybe so, maybe not.

The acid test for how your policy will be affected once a claim is made is variable and based on the situation surrounding the claim. The problem with making a blanket call on this one is that the answer happens to be different for every insurance company.

If you’re in good standing with your insurance carrier (and have no previous claims with that carrier) your rates shouldn’t be affected. The single most important determining factor of whether or not your rates will be affected is whether or not you are at fault in any incident.

If you’re not at fault, your rate shouldn’t be affected.

If you are at fault? That’s an entirely different can of worms. What happen after you file a claim will also depend on the monetary value of that claim. If you lay down brand new Ducati 11198 Panigale, the way the situation plays out will be considerably different than if you had laid down your Honda CBRR600.

Consider also that you’ll need take into account when to submit a claim at all. If the amount of your deductible to make the necessary repairs to your bike is less than your deductible, don’t submit a claim. It’s that simple…

No matter what happens, always let your insurance company know if you are involved in an accident involving an injury to a third party or damage to a third party’s property. Fail to do that and the omission could come back to haunt you financially for a long time to come.

If I lend my bike to a friend and an accident happens, is he or she covered under my insurance?


The rule that applies here is “insurance follows the bike.” In insurance business lingo, what we’re talking about here is what they like to call a Permissive Use Policy. As long as the person is riding your bike with your permission, the bike – and your wallet – are both covered.

Of course, it still makes sense for you to carefully consider whether or not you should lend your bike to your friend. If an accident does happen, your insurance company will cover the loss. The problem? Your carrier might decide to reconsider the business sense of renewing your policy…

How much does my insurance company think my bike is worth?

Insurance companies use services like N.A.D.A. Guides or the Kelley Blue Book to determine the actual dollar value of your bike. From your point of view, the issue is that these guides might not give an accurate picture of the real and current value of your bike. Factors these books fail to account for might cause you problems when you file a claim, so know the value they assign to your motorcycle at any given moment. While it’s not usually a problem if you have your coverage through a specialty motorcycle insurance company, it might be a problem if you rolled your policy into your auto insurance.

Claims adjusters nearly always consider the “book value” (as well as the actual market value) of your bike when determining the true market value of your motorcycle. An adjuster will review online and classified motorcycle for sale listings to determine the current selling price for bikes like yours. A good adjuster will try to find four or five examples of bikes like yours near your area to provide your insurance carrier with a complete picture of what people in your area are paying for similar machines.

The definition of a motorcycle accessory. What to add to your policy

Accessories are, at least technically,  anything you added to your bike not included by the original manufacturer. Determining an actual value for those accessories in the event of a loss is a common points of contention policyholders have with their insurance company when filing an insurance claim. Insufficient accessory coverage, particularly when you’ve underestimated the value of your bike’s accessories, leaves you with the money to replace those accessories and forced to pay to replace them out of your pocket.

The list of items which might be called “accessories” can include custom chrome, saddle bags, windshields or fairings, communications systems, lights, custom paint jobs and even your riding gear and helmet. Don’t forget to mention them when you buy your policy.

Your bike’s value – and how much coverage you have in total – only covers your bone “stock” bike unless you specify differently. Coverage for accessories is always a separate part of your policy with its own limits. Take a complete inventory of the accessories on your bike when you decide how much accessory coverage you’re going to need. Your insurance carrier will help you out with this, but you must make your insurer aware of any and all changes you’ve made to your motorcycle which might need to be mentioned specifically to be included in your policy.

What is a “liability” policy and what does it cover?

The definition of liability insurance is, “A type of insurance which covers losses resulting from bodily injury to others or damage to the property of others for which you are legally liable and to which the coverage applies.”

That’s a whole lot of legalese stuff, but it means liability insurance is there to help you pay for damage – either bodily or to property – that you do to others while riding your bike in the event of a crash.

It does not, and this is important as liability coverage is generally all you’re required to buy in most states, cover your bike or your injuries, and those are both probably a big deal to you, so know what you’re buying when you sign on.

10. Get Training

Taking an approved rider training course can also help lower your insurance premiums. Cut your premiums by as much as 20% by taking an MSF course.

9. Use a site like to compare rates

Don’t just pay the rate for the first insurance quote you find. Quotes from multiple insurance companies will also give you information you need about your requirements and help you get the cheapest deal.

If you already have a policy, use it to compare coverage offered from other companies and use that rate to negotiate with your current insurer when it comes time to renew your policy.

8. Ride like a lone wolf

If you never ride with a passenger on board, make sure your insurer knows. It can help reduce your premium. But if you specifically opt out of passenger coverage, don’t bring one along, ever. Your insurance coverage might be invalidated in the event of an accident.

7. Set the amount of miles you ride realistically

The average rider covers less than 3,000 miles a year. The lower your annual mileage, the lower your premium should be.

6. Don’t pay as you go every month

Pay for your insurance in one lump-sum. Paying monthly on an plan. If you go by the month, your insurer is basically loaning you the year’s premium payment – and charging you interest on the entire sum while you pay each monthly. You’re paying interest. Don’t.

5. Don’t buy more coverage than you need

Do you need full coverage. Liability only? Fire and theft protection? If your bike is old and not that valuable on eBay, you probably don’t need full coverage. On the other hnad, if your motorcycle is your only means of transportation or you use it to make your living, you can’t afford to go cheap.

4. Search for safe rider rebates

They’re out there, you just have to ask and make sure you know the details to earn them.

3. Don’t buy a Sport bike or superbike

We know, it sucks. But the hotter bike you buy, the more it will cost you to insure. It seems logically incorrect as sport bikes handle better and stop faster, but you always pay a premium to insure them. You can buy a model classified as a naked bike which has similar levels of performance, but it will be far cheaper to insure. Remember, sportbike equals big insurance premium – it’s that simple.

2. Ask about no-claims bonus plans

A year without a claim can save you 15% on your car insurance (at least according to the teevee ads), but some insurers might offer you a “no claims discount” of as much as 40% for a year without incidents. A claim filed while riding during your first year on the road is bad news. Don’t file one during your first year as a rider and your setting the right precedent for cheaper insurance through the years to come.

1. Install an anti-theft device

Security measures can reduce your premium by as much as 10% – and sometimes lots more if you live in a “bad neighborhood.” Fitting your bike with an alarm or tracking system will reduce your premium, period.

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