Updated Nov 27, 2022, this article was originally written for twistedroad.com ...
Cover Your Rear: The Best Motorcycle Insurance
Somewhere between the start and finish of today's route, two riders wait idling at a red light. In front of them, a black SUV watches for the green. Behind them, the very same. They're all just waiting to get on with it, not knowing they might need to call one of the best motorcycle insurance companies.
“Choosing from the best motorcycle insurance companies means fine tuning your needs, asking the right questions and taking a few notes.”
With an unexpected crescendo, a hard braking tire screech arrives at their 5 o'clock (rear right). One rider shouts to the other in slow motion: "mmmooooove uuuuup!" but it's too late. A well executed defensive maneuver isn't enough as the other rider falls to the pavement.
That rider is my wife, Margaret Dean, a skilled motorcyclist and instructor who went through all of the correct motions to evade. At that time, she was still an insurance underwriter and with that, we had researched the best motorcycle insurance companies. However, nobody plans for the day they'll actually have to use it.
When "Lithium Barbie" decided she would brake from 45 mph to zero in 3 seconds, all while sliding her Range Rover diagonally into the left turn lane we were occupying (a space barely 1/2 the size of her vehicle) ... let's just say not all incidents can be avoided.
Fortunately, Mrs. Dean was okay. I realized that pretty fast thanks to the colorful language she was blaring full fury as the bike touched the ground. The only tears to be shed would be for her once beautiful Honda Hawk GT, a rare bird that also happened to be my track toy. It's an "ouch" that comes with fateful gratitude.
Yes, we have excellent motorcycle insurance. We didn't need it that day since the driver at fault also had good insurance. Her coverage brought our Hawk GT back to "better than before" condition.
... but what if it hadn't?
What if we'd both been tagged full speed by a 1986 Buick Lesabre complete with optional wooden bumper, saran wrap windshield, sharpied license plate and two spare tires mounted? What if "Lithium Barbie" were "Mega Meth Ken" and he fled the scene leaving nothing behind but his vehemently angry teenage baby mama?
No matter what level of safe riding we claim to understand, everyone should have reliable motorcycle insurance. Finding the best motorcycle insurance companies is just a matter of taking the right steps. Yeah, there's some preparation involved but with our ducks in a row, better pricing and coverage become clear.
Find The Best Insurance Companies
First, we need contenders! When it's time for phone calls, we want to know whoever we're calling is actually worth our time. That starts with isolating five ~ ten automotive insurance companies for their established financial strength using go-to investment outlets like Forbes, Market Watch and Nerd Wallet.
But a company's pot of gold doesn't necessarily "insure we'll be insured" to our liking.
Even the customer base of a sturdy insurance company will fluctuate. That impacts new customer sign ups on a day-to-day, case-by-case basis. As a result, calling each of our possibilities can feel like a game of whack-a-mole.
The solution? Inform them early in the convo that you're shopping around. THAT ... is some pro-level negotiation right there. We're not angrily trying to pit the best motorcycle insurance companies against their competition. We're just letting them know that we're keeping our options open.
Before the phone calls, however we need to do some prep work. Open up a blank text file and take notes. We'll eventually edit, adjust and use them to screen our prospects.
Find The Best Insurance Companies For Motorcycles
So, you've built a stack of reputable sources. Type their company name into your notes. Leave a little space below each so you can document conversations. Weighing data from one call to the next will help us arrange everything in priority order. Data is everything.
“What kind of data are we talking about? Are motorcycles cheaper to insure? What exactly should we discuss and how can we as customers influence the overhead cost?”
For motorcycle insurance, the coverage we get for our money can be broken down into three worldly categories: the general public and property around a vehicle, the person operating that vehicle and the vehicle itself.
First, we cover the general public and property around us (liability) and second, ourselves (medical/personal). Third, we cover our beloved motorbikes, assuming they're worth it. For that "B side" (property coverage), let's be honest ... while we want solid insurance for that brand new sport tourer, any late model Honda barn find is hardly worth the deductible unless we're feelin' sentimental.
Liability Coverage (The Bare Minimum)
In most states, liability coverage is the bare minimum required to make us road legal. We as motorists have a responsibility to those around us as well as their property, especially in the event of an accident where we're at fault. That means the bulk of our policy's price tag comes from making sure the other guy (and their stuff) will be alright.
It also means every insurance agent you call will pull your driving record. After they do, these are a few questions you might ask. Add 'em to your notes:
- What is the minimum limit the state requires?
- In their professional experience, what limit should you carry?
- Can they provide more than one limit option (price difference quote)?
The answers to each of these questions will depend on whatever algorithms they default to ... and your assets. If you're a 19 year old college freshman with student loan debt who's renting a studio apartment with five roommates, you don't have any assets. Understatement of the year, your insurance will probably cost more. If, however you're a 53 year old retired accountant with 3 "modest" houses and a growing investment portfolio, well, you get the point.
Sadly, some motorists claim they're "so safe, no insurance is necessary". This is the most inconsiderate choice a motorist can make. Even if they're technically doing everything right, being the cause of an accident between themselves and/or others points blame right back at them, only they have no way to pay for the damages, sssooo ...
Get Yourself The Dang Medical/Personal Coverage!
One smart way we can employ the best companies for motorcycle insurance is by accepting a) we as riders are more exposed/susceptible and b) unexpected mistakes, our own or by others, can prove to be a catastrophic juggernaut.
Invoking a worst case scenario from before, "Mega Meth Ken" smashed into your bike, while you were still on it, with his baby mama's car.
You watch him drive away in what is now his new stolen getaway car. He's gone, like gone gone and even if he weren't, he has no way to compensate you for the makeshift surgery his hubcap performed. There you are with your right foot deep inside your own posterior and there's nobody around to thank for it.
The analogy here? An accident has taken place and you're hurt. There's no funding and the damage is a life changing combination of debt and physical debilitation.
Convinced that you should pay up for the medical/personal coverage? Add these questions to your screening notes:
- Is medical/personal an option? Is it required?
- If available, what's the pricing?
- Does that extend to my passengers?
Bonus Question: Will this insurance follow me onto rental bikes?
Knowing that everyone involved will receive the best attention and care relevant to their situation is far better than abandoning all hope before a threat is even known. You've covered their hide thanks to one of the best motorcycle insurance companies. Now cover your own (you owe it to yourself).
Erm ... and lighten up! Now we can look at making sure your lovely machine gets its due! Nobody's Ninja 250 is more custom than yerz!
Find The Best Insurance Companies For Your Motorcycles
What is the best motorcycle insurance on the market? Well, the one that covers liability, medical/personal and of course, most importantly, your faithful steed! If you've ever wondered "what does fully comprehensive motorbike insurance cover?" ... look no further, for you have arrived.
Whether or not it's truly the best on the market depends on you, both as a rider and motorcycle owner. Let's keep going and find the best insurance companies for your motorcycles.
I wrote a piece on used motorcycle values some time ago. The best motorcycle insurance companies will automatically assess your bike's value, figuring in mileage, compared cost and premium upgrades (both dealership and third party). You can also make mention of your personal value, just so your voice is being heard.
Whether or not they'll take your values into consideration is up to them, which again is why we're taking notes and screening the policies.
Your own demands and expectations may be the most flexible point in the conversation, as it's where you can open up more. Tell the agent about what the bike is used for. What personal modifications have you made and at what expense. Not all mods are performance specific, by the way. Some make the bike safer, affecting monthly motorcycle insurance costs in your favor.
Ease The Impact: Prove Yourself Worthy Of A Discount
If you haven't already, take a basic motorcycle safety course. If not because it will make you a better rider, then because telling your agent you successfully passed can lower your monthly charges. Consider becoming an instructor and the fees may diminish even more.
Permanently removing the passenger foot pegs is another negotiating tactic. If you express a personal "no passengers" rule, that shows your intention to balance the insurance company's bottom line. Remember, it's a business they're running.
This next bit is a little creative on my part, namely regarding riding gear. I'm betting that if you wear ATGATT (all the gear all the time), you're probably better off at the negotiating table than "Joe/Jane Sandals" with their D.O.T. approved khaki shorts, fashionably accented sleeveless t-shirt and what, kevlar bandana? Let them know you're representing us well by taking responsibility for yourself and others using safety minded methods.
It's Time To Call An Agent!
Call any insurance company directly and you'll get an earful of jargon terminology that'll distract you from your initial goal (comparing coverage from the best motorcycle insurance companies). Their phone systems and the people operating them aren't setup to onboard new customers. Their role is to work on existing claims.
What you need is an insurance agent.
Yes, the agents work for whichever company you're mining but the conversation will have a personal touch that keeps your interests in mind. By calling an agent, you're effectively calling somebody who wants to gain your business, so pushing you back with overwhelming technical verbage isn't in their best interest. While a good agent will provide pertinent information, a great agent will relay various terms without skipping noteworthy truths.
Here's how to navigate the conversation:
- Inform them, in one brief sentence, the basics of what you need.
- Allow them to ask you (more than) a few questions. Answer them honestly.
- Let them maintain control of the questions and discussion points (they're compiling a lot of information for you).
- At some point, without sabotaging their effort, mention you have some notes you'd like them to consider.
- Go through each individually, allowing them to tweak/adjust on their side.
- Remember to bring those safety-minded specifics to light: training courses, passenger foot pegs, etc.
- Mention any additional vehicles you might consider their services for in the future!
Should the conversation go smoothly, get the name of the person you're speaking with (first and last). Ask them for a direct phone number so you can maintain the business relationship. Even better, take the time to get to know them a little while you explore your policy details.
How Is Motorcycle Insurance Calculated?
Knowing your own criteria will often help an agent traverse their company system faster. Obtain the following information and save it to your notes. You'll be asked for it on every call.
- drivers license #
- how often you ride
- the year/make/model of your bike(s)
- elected training (riding courses)
- professional expertise, if any (instructor, for example)
- membership cards and/or certificates (AAA, AMA, MSF)
- whether players on a garbage team like the Cincinnati Bengals would even be invited to watch a super bowl at anyone's house
Backstage and behind the scenes, insurance companies will calculate your risk using a variety of personal data. Your driving record points to issued tickets and violations. A claims record includes incidents where your bike sustained damage (tipped over, hit wildlife, vandalism). While age carries some weight, many companies will overlook it if you've "proven your worth" (see above).
How often you ride, as well as the credit check, doesn't happen as often. That's affiliated more with the car crowd.
Which Motorcycles Have The Lowest Insurance Rates?
The type of bike, however ... that one can get pretty hairy. What constitutes a motorcycle being a sportbike, for example stems greatly from the demographic that buys that particular year/make/model. The generically iconic Ninja 650 is a standard posture machine but its aggressive front end and ridership following kick it pretty hard into the legit "sport" listings. It doesn't matter if that's technically correct. What the insurance company proclaims it to be is what they'll use for, or against, your wallet.
Good and bad factors alike play their part on both sides of the line. We don't want companies taking advantage of us and they don't want us taking advantage of them. A big enough claim, with never-before-seen testimony, is all it takes to affect even their best customers' monthly bills.
To answer the questions of which bikes are insured most affordably, look to displacement and profile. Sub-300cc engines on a "modern standard", "classic standard" or "cruiser" chassis are hard to beat, economy wise. That's because we as riders tend to purchase them out of utility or round-town pleasure instead of backroad hooliganism.
Nutshell: The Best Insurance Companies For Motorcycles
Obtaining the right insurance coverage is different from one rider or bike to the next. The key is knowing what you need while understanding what's at stake. In this world of Russian dashcam videos, adequate just isn't enough.
Go through the motions. Discuss your situation in detail with prospective agents. Tell them you're interested while mildly suggesting they're competing for your business.
Also, get everything in writing. Consider having it looked over by an independent agent or attorney. If all is well and the math adds up, your peace of mind is on the dotted line!
Who's Your Favorite Motorcycle Insurance Provider?
There are many insurance companies out there to choose from. Which do you prefer and why? Your input is invited. Leave a comment!