Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Things to know...

  • Though not necessarily more common than other vehicle accidents, motorcycle crashes can be just as shocking and traumatizing
  • If you have both a car and a motorcycle, your auto insurance coverage won’t cover any motorcycle accidents unless you have a motorcycle endorsement specifically added to your existing policy
  • Motorcycle insurance pays for the damages to your motorcycle and your medical expenses in the event of an accident while riding your motorcycle. It may also cover the cost of replacing your motorbike if it’s stolen
  • Just like auto insurance, motorcycle insurance is compulsory in most U.S. states; motorcycle owners are required to carry some level of liability insurance


As of 2015, there were 8.6 million motorcycles on the U.S. roads owned by both private citizens and commercial organizations. If you own both a car and a motorcycle, you may be tempted to think that your car insurance policy will protect you if you cause a wreck riding your motorcycle, and that’s a risky assumption.

Believing that your car insurance will protect you if you get in an accident with your motorcycle is not only risky but also illegal (depending on your state laws). Just like car insurance, motorcycle insurance is required in most states. You need to have a separate insurance policy for your motorcycle, and it should list all the people that use the motorcycle on a regular basis.

There are a few differences in the specific coverage options, but motorcycle insurance is in many ways similar to car insurance. Purchase proper insurance for your motorcycle and avoid the frustrations of having your claim denied. Compare quotes from different providers; it’s the only way to increase your chances of getting a better deal on your motorcycle coverage.

How does motorcycle insurance work?

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You already know the basics of motorcycle insurance if you have auto insurance the differences are minute. Minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance match auto insurance requirements in most states.

However, certain coverages are unique to motorcycle coverage. For instance, the guest passenger liability coverage designed to protect the person you are riding with is only available on a motorcycle insurance policy.

In most cases, motorcycle insurance also covers dirt bikes, scooters, and mopeds. If you are looking for a policy to cover anything besides your motorcycle, check with your provider to confirm that your dirt bike, scooter, or moped is covered under the policy.

Before you purchase a motorcycle insurance policy from a particular insurer, shop around. Compare quotes from various providers and increase your likelihood of landing proper, all-inclusive coverage at an affordable cost.

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Getting Insurance for Your Motorcycle

The only way you can be fully protected while riding your motorcycle is making sure that you have purchased a separate motorcycle policy. While some auto insurance providers offer motorcycle endorsements on your car insurance, these policies are limited and you may end up paying for most of the damages or medical bills out of pocket in case you get in a motorcycle accident.

Endorsements will not give you coverage closer to what a separate motorcycle policy offers. About 75 percent of motorcycle accidents in the U.S. involve collisions with motor vehicles. It’s rather obvious that in an accident involving a motorcycle and a passenger car, the person riding the motorcycle takes the brunt of the damage.

Therefore, when buying motorcycle insurance, you need to ensure that you get the coverage that provides the best possible coverage within your budget, including repairs to your bike, hospital bills, and lost time at work, if possible.

So, now that we’ve established that you need a separate policy for your motorcycle, and a good one for that matter, how do you find one? Though motorcycle insurance is compulsory in many states, it’s not regulated like car insurance. Therefore, you should be careful when purchasing coverage. Don’t fall for the ‘cheap’ motorcycle insurance ads on TVs.

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Helmets and Motorcycle Insurance

If you are on the phone with a motorcycle insurance agent or online shopping for coverage for your motorbike, you’ll notice that there are no questions related to the use of helmets. Every state has its own helmet laws – what is legal in your home state may not be legal elsewhere. If you take a ride along the Pacific coast, for instance, keep in mind that what is legal in your first 400 miles may be illegal in the next 200.

The majority of U.S. states have an official stand on helmets and motorcycle riding. In most cases, helmet requirements are based on riding experience, insurance, and age. Some states require all riders to wear helmets in their first years of riding, irrespective of their age. In some states, you can ride without a helmet just as long as you have private medical insurance.

The fact that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of a motorcycle accident is indisputable. While motorcycle insurance providers can’t police riders who use helmets and those who don’t, they consider the losses, frequency, and severity of certain claims to determine rates. States with strict helmet laws — where many motorcycle riders wear helmets — have cheaper premiums. So, yeah, wearing a helmet affects your motorcycle insurance.

License Requirements for Motorcyclists in the U.S.

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You need to have a license to ride a motorcycle in the U.S. Depending on where you come from, you may be issued with a motorcycle license, a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license, or a motorcycle permit. In some states, you will be required to get a motorcycle permit before you are issued with a fully-fledged motorcycle license.

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You Need Motorcycle Insurance

Don’t get confused; your car insurance policy does not cover accidents you may be involved in while riding your motorcycle. If you are a motorcycle owner looking to purchase coverage, shop around. Compare quotes from different insurance companies before you settle for a provider.

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