Easy Riders: Bikers Should Consider Safety and Insurance

There are more than 8.6 million motorcycles registered in the United States.1 Some bikers have a passion for touring the back roads, while others seek the excitement of an off-road race. Many riders simply rely on their motorcycles or scooters to get where they need to go.

Now that spring has arrived, more riders will be climbing on their bikes for regular use or weekend fun. In addition, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, when bikers and motorists are reminded to “share the road” and help prevent crashes, death, and injuries.

Before revving your engine, it’s important to learn how to safely operate a motorcycle and make sure you have appropriate insurance coverage.

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Safer Cruising

There’s no way around the fact that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. Sadly, 5,286 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016, and many thousands more were injured (most recent statistics available).2 Motorcycles are simply less crashworthy than closed vehicles. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Always wear a brain bucket. It’s estimated that motorcycle helmets saved more than 1,859 lives in 2016, yet more than one-third of riders don’t take advantage of this important form of protection.3
  • Dress the part. Wear protective gear such as a riding suit or motorcycle jacket, face shield, goggles, gloves, and boots. Bright colors or reflective tape may help increase visibility.
  • Avoid reckless riding. Dangerous behavior by motorcycle operators contributed to a majority of fatal crashes. In 2016, about 25% of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes were alcohol impaired, and 33% were speeding.4
  • Learn to ride well. Completing a motorcycle training course could help strengthen your skills and might even earn you a discount on your insurance policy.

Covering Your Ride

Most states have minimum liability coverage requirements similar to those for automobiles, but owners of expensive motorcycles might want additional coverage to help protect their investment. Each of the following policies typically pays for covered expenses (up to policy limits) and may be subject to certain deductibles and exclusions.

  • Liability insurance. This helps pay for injuries and property damage that you may cause to others in the event of an accident. Liability insurance does not cover damage to your own vehicle.
  • Guest passenger liability. Standard liability insurance may not include coverage for a guest passenger. If your standard coverage does not, consider purchasing passenger liability coverage separately.
  • Collision coverage. This helps pay for damage to your bike (minus your deductible) if you are involved in a wreck with another vehicle or a stationary object.
  • Comprehensive insurance. This adds coverage for damage resulting from events other than collisions, such as fire and theft.
  • Coverage for optional equipment. If you have special upgrades or accessories such as a side car, chrome parts, or a custom paint job, you may want to obtain this additional coverage.

Insurance premiums typically depend on the type of motorcycle you own, where you live, where you store and ride your bike, how often you ride, and your driving record. Sport models that are built for speed often cost more to insure than cruisers. If you ride only during certain months, you may be able to save money with a lay-up policy option that suspends collision and liability coverage during off-season months.

Motorcycle insurance may be available as a separate policy or as a rider (endorsement) to your auto policy. Your insurance agent can help you determine the type and amount of coverage needed based on your personal situation and lifestyle.