Next to a helmet, sufficient motorcycle insurance is the best way to protect a rider on the open road.
By Jim Gorzelany
This is prime time for motorcycle enthusiasts, with the warm spring air beckoning riders to dust off their leather jackets and chase the sun to the horizon. But they better make sure their motorcycle insurance is up to speed to avoid trouble with the law.
As is the case with auto insurance, all 50 states require motorcycle owners to carry minimum liability coverage. For example, California riders must take out a policy that includes at least $15,000 per person in bodily injury coverage and $30,000 for all persons involved in an accident, along with $5,000 in property damage coverage. Insurance experts suggest those with considerable personal assets to protect should purchase additional liability coverage as a safety net against possible litigation.
In addition to the required liability insurance, it's prudent to carry full coverage to help recover the cost of damage incurred in an accident. Again, the various types of coverage are similar to individual segments that comprise an auto insurance policy.
The essential components include collision, which covers physical damage to the motorcycle involved in a crash with an object, tree or another vehicle; comprehensive, which covers a loss from non- collision sources like theft, vandalism, fire or hail; medical payments, which covers physical injuries to the rider and passenger; and uninsured or underinsured motorists, which covers personal injury and damage to the bike caused by the driver of another vehicle who either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient coverage.
Often overlooked, those who've personalized their rides will additionally want to carry accessory coverage that pays to repair damage to non-standard parts like aftermarket audio and navigation systems, fairings, luggage racks, sissy bars and the like. "When people customize their bikes, they often don't adjust their coverage accordingly," says Progressive Insurance motorcycle product manager Dan Kamionkowski. "Progressive includes $3,000 of accessory coverage on every policy with comprehensive or collision coverage, but even that may not be enough if you've done extensive work to your bike." Those with a vintage bike will want to purchase so-called agreed- value coverage that covers its market value as a collectible ride, rather than its actual cash value for parts.
What's more, owners can purchase roadside assistance coverage, which acts like an automobile club membership and covers the cost of towing in the event of a mechanical breakdown, fixing a flat tire or dead battery, filling an empty fuel tank and so on.
Most major auto insurance companies and independent agents sell motorcycle coverage. Rates generally vary according to a rider's age, credit rating, address, marital status and driving record, and the age and type of motorcycle covered. "Because motorcycle insurance protects both the bike and the rider, the motorcycles that are less expensive to insure tend to be those that are older and less valuable bikes, while those that are more expensive often are newer and more expensive bikes," Kamionkowski explains.
Generally, younger and inexperienced single riders living in urban areas can expect to pay significantly higher premiums than older, married and more-experienced motorcyclists living in the country.
As is the case with other forms of insurance, riders are advised to shop around among several companies to find the coverage that best meets their needs at the lowest rates. And be sure to ask about any applicable discounts. They're most commonly granted to riders who also carry policies on their cars and/or homes with the same company, have anti-theft devices installed on their bikes, are members of rider associations and who've taken motorcycle safety classes.
[copyright] CTW Features