10 Things You Need to Know About Motorcycle Insurance in California

Buying a motorcycle is a huge deal. Like most other major purchases, the total cost will add up to much more than the sticker price of the new bike itself. You have to factor in dealer fees, delivery fees, sales tax, title transfers, riding gear and more. One more expense you’ll have to plan for is Motorcycle Insurance. As a rider, you are legally required to carry Motorcycle Insurance in California. Even if it wasn’t a requirement, it is more than a good idea.

Motorcycle Insurance will help give you piece of mind when you are exploring California on the open road. Here are the 10 things you should know about California Motorcycle Insurance when you’re shopping for a policy.

1. Your standard Auto Insurance policy does NOT cover your motorcycle.

Your motorcycle may not be your only form of transportation. If you also own a car, truck, van or SUV, then you most likely already have an Auto Insurance policy. At least, we hope you do. If you don’t, or if your looking for a cheaper rate, call an Insurance Specialist at (855) 919-4247. However, let’s assume you do have an Auto Insurance policy. Guess what? It does not cover your motorcycle.

California law requires you to carry Liability Insurance that is specific to your motorcycle. Let’s say you get pulled over while riding your bike. You’ll likely get asked for proof of insurance. Well, handing over your Car Insurance card won’t do you any good. To legally ride your bike, you need a Motorcycle Insurance policy.

2. The minimum levels of insurance for your motorcycle are the same as those for your car.

Like most states, California mandates that you purchase a minimum amount of insurance coverage for your motorcycle. So, what’s the minimum amount you need? The short version is 15/30/5.

In other words, your California Motorcycle Insurance policy must cover at least:

  • Motorcycle Insurance in California$15,000 for bodily injury incurred by another person
  • $30,000 for bodily injury to others involved in the accident
  • $5,000 for property damage caused by a collision

While you can certainly buy Motorcycle Insurance with higher levels of coverage, those are the minimum amounts of coverage you must have on your policy in the event you are at fault in an accident. However, purchasing coverage higher than those minimum limits are highly recommended. If you do get into a collision while riding, those small amounts might not cover all the injuries and damages that occurred. That could leave you owing thousands of dollars out of your own pocket if you’re at fault for an accident. Below are optional coverages that you should seriously consider adding to your Motorcycle policy.

3. Your Liability Insurance does NOT cover any costs that YOU incur in a collision that was your fault.

The Liability Insurance coverage on a standard Motorcycle Insurance policy only covers injuries and damages done to the other party during an accident in which you were found at fault. In other words, any injuries, medical costs or property damages that you incur during an at-fault accident will not be covered if you only have the minimum policy limits required by California.

So, what would our Insurance Specialists suggest? Collision and/or Comprehensive Motorcycle Insurance coverage. These are common coverages that riders add to their policy for better peace of mind that they will be financially protected if they happen to get into an accident. Collision coverage pays for any repairs or replacement costs required by your bike after a collision, regardless of fault (after you pay your deductible and up to your policy’s limits). Comprehensive coverage pays for any non-collision mishaps that could occur. This includes your motorcycle being stolen, vandalized or damaged by weather elements. Keep in mind, you also must meet your deductible before any claims are paid out.

4. Uninsured/Underinsured coverage is also a smart investment.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is also a good idea to considering adding to your policy. This type of coverage provides financial protection in the event you’re involved in a collision that is not your fault, but that is the fault of someone who does not have enough Motorcycle Insurance or any at all. Typically, if you’re in a collision where another driver is at fault, their Liability Insurance will cover your bike repairs, medical costs and related expenses. Unfortunately, there are far too many California motorists who illegally choose to drive without the required insurance (about 4.1 million of them in 2012, in fact).

Let’s say you do get into a collision with a driver who does not have adequate insurance, but was found at fault. What would that mean for you? Basically, you’d have to cover all of your own bodily injury and/or property damage costs yourself. Nope, that doesn’t sound like a good time to us either. But, if you do add UM/UIM coverage to your Motorcycle Insurance, then you’ll be covered for those costs, up to your policy’s limits. Adding this extra assurance to your policy may also be more affordable than you think.

5. You are required by law to carry proof of insurance when riding your motorcycle.

CA Motorcycle Insurance - riding down the road fastYes, it can sometimes be a hassle to bring your insurance information with you every time you ride your motorcycle. But if you’re pulled over without your proof of insurance, you can be fined between $100 and $200 (or up to $500 for repeat offenses). Of course, there aren’t many places on a bike where you can stow insurance documents. One solution is to keep your Motorcycle Insurance card in something that you always take while riding. This could be your wallet, gear bag or helmet.

6. Your motorcycle can be impounded if you are caught riding without insurance.

In addition to levying fines, police officers also have the right to impound your motorcycle if they catch you riding without insurance. That means you’ll have to pay even more fees to retrieve your bike from the impound lot. Oh, and the authorities won’t even release your motorcycle until you do provide the proper proof of insurance. Since impound lots charge daily fees, you could wind up paying more money than you would for a Motorcycle Insurance policy in the first place.

7. If you’re hurt in a crash and you don’t have Motorcycle Insurance, you cannot recover non-economic damages.

Twenty years ago, Californians passed Proposition 213 in an effort to crack down on uninsured motorists. The law states that if you’re involved in an accident (regardless of fault) and you do not have the mandatory Liability Insurance, you are barred from collecting non-economic damages. These include pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement and loss of consortium. Proposition 213 affects all of the state’s motorists no matter what type of vehicle they drive. But since motorcyclists are five times more likely to get hurt in an accident than occupants of four-wheeled vehicles, the law underscores the need for motorcycle owners to acquire Liability Insurance.

8. Standard Motorcycle Insurance policies do not cover modified bikes.

Lots of motorcycle enthusiasts like to modify or “trick out” their bikes. That’s all well and good, but those modifications won’t be covered by your regular Motorcycle Insurance policy. This includes aftermarket performance parts and optional augmentations made after the bike was purchased. The good news is that you can purchase additional coverage for your modified motorcycle. Keep in mind that your carrier may require receipts to verify the value of the modifications.

9. You don’t need Motorcycle Insurance for a “dirt bike.”

Maybe you only plan on riding your motorcycle off road. If that’s the case, you are not legally bound to purchase and maintain Liability Insurance. California law doesn’t mandate insurance for what it calls “off-highway vehicles” like four-wheelers, dune buggies and dirt bikes. However, it’s still a good idea to purchase insurance for your motorcycle even if you keep it off of the streets and highways. Coverage is available to protect your dirt bike from theft, vandalism, or damage in a collision. Speak with an Insurance Specialist to customize your policy to fit your needs. You will save money and have better peace of mind.

10. There are many ways to earn a discount on your Motorcycle Insurance policy.

As with cars, there are steps you can take to reduce your Motorcycle Insurance rate. You can qualify for discounts if you complete a motorcycle safety course or invest in anti-theft devices for your bike. Additionally, there are discounts for selecting a higher deductible, paying for six months or a year’s worth of coverage up front, and/or bundling your insurance policies together. Most insurance companies will give you a price break on your Motorcycle policy if you take advantage of these options.

AIS Insurance has helped thousands of California motorcyclists find the perfect coverage to suit their needs and their wallet. Before you purchase that new bike and head out on the open road, give AIS a call today for a free quote.


This content is offered for educational purposes only. It does not represent contractual agreements. Nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here. Such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

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