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Why Motorcycle Insurance?
When you’re driving a motorcycle, you can cause damage and your motorcycle can be damaged. You can also cause injuries and be injured. Accidents do happen and that’s why motorcycle insurance is a good idea.
Below, we review common motorcycle coverages and answer questions about your motorcycle policy rates.
(As always, if you want specific details about your motorcycle policy, you’ll need to consult your actual insurance policy as they can vary.)
Coverages (from most to least important)
Any time you hop on a motorcycle, you can accidentally injure people or damage their property (usually another car). Liability coverage helps pay for those injuries or damages so that you don’t have to. In addition, the company also handles the correspondence with the other party.
For example, let’s say you lose traction on a corner and accidentally hit another vehicle, causing $4,000 of damage. Your liability coverage would pay those damages for you.
Moreover, the insurance company handles the communications with the other person during their recovery process. This is a big deal! The other person isn’t sending you repair bills during their recovery process. That’s because your insurance company handles the claim for you.
The insurance company does not do all of this from the goodness of its heart.
The insurance company provides all those services and resources because you paid them ahead of time for their agreement to help handle the liabilities you have while using a motorcycle.
Sometimes people don’t have any insurance or not enough. When that someone causes an accident that injures you or damages your motorcycle, this coverage will help pay for treating those injuries and repairing those damages.
Physical Damage to your Motorcycle
While liability coverages are for damages to other parties and their vehicles or other property, comprehensive and collision are meant to cover physical damage to your motorcycle.
Collision covers damage to your motorcycle from those incidents when you hit something such as a rock, a curb, a guardrail, a garage door, or another car.
It also covers your motorcycle if someone else collides with it (though sometimes the other party’s liability insurance will pay for this).
Though not required by law, collision coverage will be required by your lender if you have a loan on the vehicle.
People typically choose deductibles from $250 to $1,000.
Often called “other than collision,” comprehensive covers accidental damages to your motorcycle that collision coverage does not. These include events like hail, an airborne rock, a theft, vandalism, or striking a deer.
Though not required by state law, comprehensive coverage will be required by your lender if you have a loan on your motorcycle.
People typically choose a deductible of $0 to $1,000.
Unlike car insurance in Oregon, PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage is not required on a motorcycle policy. But medical coverage is still available as an optional coverage.
Medical payments overage will likely be the first coverage to pay for treatment if you or your passengers sustain injuries from an incident involving your motorcycle.
If you do opt for medical coverage in the policy, it will typically increase costs significantly. But the reason for higher costs is that motorcycles have higher injury rates than regular vehicles. That is another reason to consider adding the coverage.
What if I don’t have medical payments and crash? If you get injured while riding and do not have medical coverage on your motorcycle policy, you may have health insurance to help out after its deductible or you will need to cover the medical bills out of your own pocket.
Rental Reimbursement coverage helps pay for a replacement rental vehicle while your own motorcycle is being fixed due to an accident. In other words, this optional coverage kicks in if you can’t use your cycle because of an accident.
The coverage is paid either as a percentage or a fixed amount. For example, a percentage amount could cover 80% of your cost of the rental vehicle up to $500, while a fixed amount could cover up to $40 per day with a total benefit ceiling of $1200. Sometimes there is a day limit as well.
Depending on the company, this coverage may bundle in certain other perks such as a reduced deductible if your rental car is damaged, or travel expense reimbursements if the accident happens more than a certain distance (say 50 miles) from home.
If you have another vehicle available, this coverage is less important.
Emergency Road Service (Roadside Assistance)
Emergency Road Service or Roadside Assistance is designed to help in the event of a breakdown.
On the minimal end, the coverage provides an hour of roadside assistance to bring you gas, or put on your spare tire, or help arrange towing your cycle to a nearby repair facility. If you want the tow truck to go some extra miles to get to your favored repair shop, you may need to cover a portion of the towing for that extra mileage.
On the maximal end, the coverage can tow your motorcycle those extra miles and may also reimburse extra travel expenses if the breakdown is far from home.
Helps cover extra travel expenses such as food, lodging, or transportation if your motorcycle breaks down or is in an accident while travelling far from home (usually 50+ or 100+ miles.)
Special Equipment or Safety Gear Endorsement
Most policies now include some amount of coverage for your motorcycle gear and accessories, but this endorsement can add specific protection for your safety gear.
Many motorcycle policies in Oregon automatically include OEM coverage on their motorcycle policy (unlike a car policy). And others offer it as an option by endorsement.
This helps cover the extra cost that may be associated with repairing your motorcycle with parts from the Original Equipment Manufacturer.
GAP coverage covers the difference between the value of your motorcycle and your remaining loan if you have an accident that totals out the motorcycle.
Rates & Discounts here in Oregon
Can I cancel my motorcycle policy in the winter to save money?
Unless you are going to be entirely parking your motorcycle for a majority of the year, you will not save as much money as you might think. Why?
This is because motorcycle, boat, and RV policies are usually “short-rated” policies. It’s not as devious as it may sound!
What this means is that, even though the insurer may bill the premium evenly each month for convenience, the premium is actually charged seasonally in an effort to charge appropriately (on average) for the risk.
In other words, a majority of the premium is charged for the time when you’ll tend to be using the vehicle the most. On the flipside, a small portion of the premium will be used in winter months when you won’t be driving much. (Snowmobile policies are usually the reverse.)
Because of this, it’s usually better to keep your motorcycle policy active year-round. The other benefit is that when we begin getting those surprising sunny dry days in February or March, you won’t need to worry or remember about going through the process of repurchasing another motorcycle policy.
How can I lower my motorcycle rates here?
- Drive well. Don’t get tickets and watch out for those cameras in Beaverton and Tigard. Take extra care in parking lots.
- Stay insured (Or, don’t let your policy lapse.) Lapsed coverage can increase your rates when you go looking. Plus, if you get ticketed for driving without proof of insurance you could have your license suspended here in Oregon. Then the insurance gets even more expensive.
- Stay put for awhile (or, don’t switch insurance companies every year.) Many companies include longevity with a company in their rating. Do have your agent check around for you every few years, but switching carriers every year isn’t generally advisable.
- Check your discounts: especially the multi-policy discounts.
- Consider bundling and not bundling! Bundling is usually less expensive, but not always.
- Ask for a rerate. Here in Oregon, you can sometimes request a rerate with your carrier, which essentially gives them permission to rerun a complete insurance score and give you a better rate if they can give it to you.
- Raise your deductibles if you’re willing to take on a little more of the risk in exchange for a lower price.
- Consider dropping collision coverage on a cycle if it’s not worth much.
How do they determine motorcycle insurance rate?
Companies use some combination of factors like these listed below to try and price your risk accurately, but companies do weight them differently.
- Driver information:
- At-fault accidents. These tend to have the most significant impact on rates.
- Any tickets? The main concerns here are not parking tickets but moving violations like speeding, running stop signs, or texting while driving.
- Any other claims. Even if you’ve made a simple towing or glass claim in which there was no fault, such insurance activity still typically affects the rate some.
- The age of the drivers. Teen and inexperienced drivers tend to be riskier and, as we age past our 60s, we slowly become riskier again.
- Experience driving a motorcycle.
- If you have your motorcycle endorsement.
- How long you’ve lived at a place.
- Where you live.
- What other drivers live in your household.
- Vehicle Information
- The type of motorcycle. Insurance companies keep track of how much each model typically costs to repair, how much damage each model tends to cause in an accident, or how many injuries their passengers are likely to sustain in an accident.
- The length of time you’ve owned it.
- How many miles you drive.
- How the motorcycle is stored.
- Credit history (at the time of application here in Oregon). This one is a bit more complicated (and controversial), but the short story is that insurance companies have found a strong correlation between credit and propensity to file a claim. For this reason, they’ve found credit history to be another reliable indicator of risk. The use of credit for insurance pricing here in Oregon.
- Your current insurance. Insurance companies get nervous about any gaps in coverage. This is one reason it’s important to keep continuous insurance.
- How long you’ve been insured with one carrier. In general, insurance companies favor stability. This is one reason we don’t recommend switching insurance companies frequently.
- Your profession. Some professions are more risky than others.
- If you own or rent your home.
What discounts are available for motorcycle insurance?
Companies are continually trying to invent or reinvent discounts that will help attract and retain customers. They are worth different amounts at different insurers. Here are most of the discounts out there.
- Multi-cycle discount for insuring multiple vehicles with the same company.
- Multi-policy discount for having multiple types of policies with the same company. For instance, you have a home insurance policy and a car insurance policy and a personal liability umbrella.
- Advance quoting discount for getting a quote ahead of time.
- Accident-free discount for 3 or more years.
- Claims-free discount for 3 or more years.
- Safety discounts based on the safety features of your motorcycle.
- Loyalty discount for how long you’ve been with one carrier.
- Rider Experience discount for how long you’ve been riding.
- Affiliate discount if you’re part of a professional organization to which the insurance company offers a special discount.
- Motorcycle Endorsement on your license. (Required here after a certain period in Oregon.)
Other Guides & Helps
- For the Oregon requirements for motorcyclists (Oregon DMV).
- Go here to learn about ways to get Oregon Motorcycle Endorsement & Training – Team Oregon (team-oregon.org)
- Learn more About Us (actual people!), our Sensible Approach, or our Carriers.