- Practice Areas
I’ve attended several motorcycle events recently (Look Twice/Save a Life, Pikes Peak Bike Week, Toy Run for Children’s Hospital) and I just love chatting with passionate bikers. It’s no secret that bikers are as loyal to their motorcycles as they are to their spouses and their pets. If you’re a Harley person, you’re a Harley person for life. If you love Triumph, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, BMW… well, your bike-of-choice is like a piece of your personality. Tough, fast, classic, sleek. But which is the best motorcycle?
Bikers just love telling you why their bike is the best.
But one thing many bikers don’t know is how insurance companies “rank” motorcycles in terms of value and cost. I was recently asked if all motorcycles are “created equal” in the eyes of insurance companies and it seemed like an outstanding idea for an article.
Here is the short answer: No, of course not!
Just as insurance costs more for expensive cars, you will pay more for a motorcycle that is worth more… and if your bike has a very powerful motor, you will pay even more. Read on!
If you’re shopping for a motorcycle (winter is a great time to get good deals on bikes), you need to factor in the cost of insuring it. (And don’t forget to purchase as much Underinsured Motorist Coverage as you can afford. I’ll add more about that later in this article.)
To assess the cost to insure your new bike, look at it objectively like an insurance company would. How much would it cost to replace your bike if you total it? For example, if you have a sports bike with fairings (the plastic panels that cover the motor), you will see higher rates than bikes without fairings. Why? Those pieces of plastic are expensive! If your bike merely tips over, you can do over $1,000 worth of damage on the panels alone. (Imagine the cost of a motorcycle accident out on the road.)
So, sports bikes can cost a lot to insure.
Insurance rates are not only determined by a bike’s overall value, but also by its power, which is measured in cubic centimeters or cubic inches if you ride American iron. This is also called “displacement.” When an insurance rep asks you, “What is your motorcycle’s displacement?” they are asking for your bike’s cubic centimeters or cubic inches. For example, 600cc bikes are less expensive to insure than 1000cc bikes. The rates for insurance generally increase along these ranges:
In a nutshell, you will pay more for more power.
Now here’s a tip from our own Eli Ohlhausen, a former motorcycle mechanic turned motorcycle attorney. Don’t assume that your motorcycle actually has all the power written on the manual!
Eli has a Yamaha XT600, which means it is supposed to be a 600cc bike. However, when Eli looked on the base of the motorcycle’s cylinder, he discovered that it actually displaces 598ccs. He told his insurance company this fact and he was given the lower insurance rate.
Check your bike’s cylinder and make sure you’re precise with your insurance company. You could pay a lower rate!
Now, that’s some good information for covering your bike but you must also buy insurance to cover yourself.
In addition to the liability and collision insurance that you buy for your motorcycle, you also need to buy Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. At a minimum, you should purchase $1 million of UIM. If you can afford more, you should have it. Why? Because motorcycle injuries can cost a lot. And often, even responsible motorcycle riders who are victims of some else’s reckless behavior can end up with more bills than insurance companies will pay.
We are representing a motorcyclist who was clipped by a car and he may lose his leg. If he had the proper coverage, he easily could get (and he needs) over $1 million in damages but he only bought $50,000 in UIM. Can you imagine the impact this accident is having on his life and on his family? It’s tragic!
BikerDown, the nonprofit organization that assists fallen bikers, recently reported that it had received calls from three bikers in the span of two days. These bikers were significantly injured in accidents caused by drivers who had little to no insurance, and not one of the bikers had UIM coverage. That means these bikers will likely go into severe debt due to medical bills that no one is going to help them pay. We’ve seen bikers lose their homes over situations like this.
Eli bluntly advises motorcyclists to think of insurance this way:
You love that motorcycle! (And I’m sure it is better than any other bike out on the road.) Make certain that you purchase enough insurance to protect yourself from all those car drivers out there who aren’t carrying enough insurance to take care of your medical costs if they hit you.
If you have any questions at all about the insurance you currently have on your motorcycle, don’t hesitate to call me. I can quickly tell you if you have enough insurance and where you might want to bump it up to protect yourself.