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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Motorcycle Versus Car Insurance

OFF THE WIRE

If you already know and understand the basics of car insurance coverage, you’re in good shape to know the basics of motorcycle insurance coverage. But there are some differences between motorcycle and car insurance. Motorcycle insurance, which is required in nearly every state, helps to protect the owners’ investments in cases of collisions, theft, injury, and much more.

What do motorcycle and auto insurance policies have in common?

A good rule of thumb: if specific coverage is required for auto insurance in any particular state, the same will generally be true of motorcycle insurance. Even in states that don’t require motorcycle insurance, coverage options are normally quite similar to those offered on auto policies. Liability, uninsured motorist, medical payments, and physical damage coverage are fairly common coverages to see offered by motorcycle insurance providers.

Motorcycle Liability Coverage

As is the case with car insurance, liability coverage is extremely important, as it covers the other driver and the other vehicle and property in the event that you cause a collision. This is the minimum type of motorcycle coverage required by most states.
While motorcycle riders are less likely to cause as much damage as an automobile, strictly considering the weight of the vehicle, riders are still liable for damage and injury that they cause to a third party. Further, lawsuits don’t discriminate based on what sort of vehicle the liable party was driving (or, in this case, riding). If you caused an accident, you expose yourself to a potential lawsuit. Since liability coverage is intended to protect the primary named insured’s assets, carrying as much liability as you can afford is always the best option. Pro Tip: Increasing liability limits on a motorcycle policy is fairly inexepensive, so maxing out your coverage will generally result in a very small, if any, increase in premium.

Uninsured Motorist and Medical Payments Coverage for Motorcycle Owners

Having both medical and uninsured motorist coverage broadens the scope of an insurance policy to cover the rider in a more comprehensive manner. Uninsured drivers are a big problem for car owners and motorcycle owners alike. Uninsured motorist coverage keeps you (the rider) and your bike protected in the case that you’re hit, injured, or otherwise sustain damage caused by someone who is uninsured or underinsured. For motorcyclists especially, this type of coverage is critical. According to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), as of 2012, about one in eight drivers (more than 12%) was uninsured. And going without uninsured motorist coverage would mean your medical bills would not be covered in these all-too-frequent dangerous scenarios.

Where uninsured motorist coverage protects riders from other drivers who may be without insurance at the time of an at fault accident, medical payments coverage is intended to protect the rider when they suffer injury due to an accident that is considered their own fault. And even if you consider yourself a superb and safe driver and you’re more worried about the dangerous behavior of others on the road, you could be on the hook for major medical expenses if you forgo medical payments coverage and cause a collision.
Pro Tip: Uninsured motorist coverage amounts don’t have to match your liability limits if you choose to carry a higher amount of liability.

Motorcycle Full Coverage (for Physical Damage to the Bike)

Physical damage coverage is extremely important to both auto and motorcycle owners as well; especially folks who are financing their cars or cycles. When signing the loan paperwork for that sweet new Harley or Indian or…, your salesperson will undoubtedly mention the fact that you will need insurance coverage to take the bike home. What they really mean is that, while you’re making payments on it, the motorcycle will need to be protected against damage and theft — not just liability. Fortunately, motorcycle owners can select deductible options similar to those available to automobile owners.

Pro Tip: Physical damage coverage can be a bit expensive for motorcycles due to the likelihood of damage and theft, so ask your salesperson about the highest deductible your finance company will allow you to carry. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

What’s the difference between motorcycle insurance and car insurance?
As you’ve seen above, motorcycle and auto insurance overlap in a number of ways, but here are a few types of insurance coverage unique to those choosing the motorcycle life:

Trip Interruption Coverage

As far as coverage is concerned, most motorcycle insurance providers offer Trip Interruption coverage. This will normally pay for things like hotel, food, and even transportation expenses if your bike breaks down, or you’re involved in an accident, while on a trip. Most companies stipulate that the breakdown must occur more than 100 miles from your home address, but it’s a great thing to have if you like to hit the open road for days on end on your motorcycle.

Pro Tip: Insurance providers can have different stipulations and benefits offered under this coverage type so make sure to ask your agent about the specifics if you choose to carry Trip Interruption coverage.

Coverage for Add-Ons and Customized Parts

Customization is much more common among motorcycle owners than car owners, so the majority of insurance companies providing motorcycle coverage will offer additional protection on custom parts and equipment that weren’t originally installed at the factory. It’s common for riders to have many thousands of dollars worth of add-ons on their bikes, and it’s equally as important to protect those parts as well as the parts that came from the factory. With most standard insurance companies, coverage for custom parts normally extends to $3,000 worth of equipment at no additional charge. The coverage amount can be increased up to the limit set by each company for more heavily customized bikes.

Pro Tip: Keep the receipts of any custom equipment added to your bike to make sure those parts can be accounted for when purchasing your policy and that you are adequately compensated if you have to file a claim.

Coverage for Your Bike’s Trailer

For riders who prefer to haul their motorcycles with them on vacation or other adventures, motorcycle insurance companies also offer coverage for a transport trailer. As trailers used to haul motorcycles can be quite expensive, this can be an invaluable coverage option for riders who want to tow their bikes to their destination.

Pro Tip: Ask the agent quoting your motorcycle coverage how much coverage they offer for a trailer as this can vary by company.

The biggest difference between auto and motorcycle coverage?

Just as car insurance covers vehicles from trucks to vans to sedans, etc., motorcycle insurance can also extend beyond your traditional bike to cover vehicles such as golf carts, ATVs, and side-by-side offroad vehicles. People generally seek to insure these recreational toys for medical and physical damage coverage, but it’s important to clarify that you’ll still be purchasing a motorcycle policy if you want to insure any of these types of motorized vehicles. The benefit here is that covering any of these other vehicle types is generally quite inexpensive. (photos @ H-D)