In the movie “One Week” starring Joshua Jackson, the main character purchases a vintage British Motorcycle after receiving grave news and decides to ride across Canada in search of the meaning of life. After watching that movie, I said to myself “I will one day own a classic British motorcycle.” That one day eventually came, but not before learning a few lessons about motorcycles in general and, more particularly, motorcycle insurance – which can be an intimidating search for the uninitiated.
These are some motorcycle insurance lessons I’ve learned in nearly a decade of riding – and being insured, of course.
Motorcycle insurance isn’t as cost-prohibitive as you might think
I remember the first time a friend of mine bought a bike. We walked into his garage where his brand new 1200cc Japanese cruiser bike sat gleaming in the sunshine that poured in through the open garage door.
Taking in its beautiful chrome and perfectly shiny tank, I asked where he had ridden it so far.
“Nowhere. I can’t get insurance – it’s too expensive,” he told me.
What a waste. And what poor planning. That bike sat for years afterward, my buddy never getting insurance and eventually losing interest in riding.
The truth is, though, that he probably could have found affordable insurance. He just didn’t search hard enough. I was able to, just a year later, after my own initial search made me believe it would be too expensive for me as well. I just refused to give up.
You should shop around for the best price
The trick was looking in more than one place, shopping around, and comparing prices.
The first quote I received was for about $400 a month. Way too expensive for me, a university student, at the time. However, a few calls to local brokers yielded much better news. I eventually attained insurance for just over $100 per month for a bike I planned on purchasing. And that was it. I bought the bike, got insured, and set off on my own motorcycle adventures for the next few years.
Your first bike shouldn’t be your dream bike
This is, admittedly, controversial advice. Many riders argue if you’re going to get a motorcycle, it might as well be the one you love most. And that seems to make sense, right? Chances are, though, that your first bike won’t be your last bike. So you want to learn on something you don’t have to be precious with. And, more importantly, something you can handle.
Many first-time riders choose 600cc sportbikes; they’re fast, they’re cool, and, let’s face it, they’re pretty badass. But they’re fast (yep, that can be both positive and negative), and heavy, and perhaps the most expensive bikes on the market to insure.
That’s because they’re hard for novices to handle (despite being so popular among new riders) and are high priority targets for thieves.
So, you might want to consider buying something smaller, more affordable, and cheaper on insurance. Your wallet will thank you.
A good insurance broker will have your back
I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It was the Friday of a long weekend in my second year of riding. I was out for a cruise, enjoying the sunshine, when a teenager blindly shot out of a Starbucks parking lot, forcing me to grab a handful of brake and flip over the top of my bike. My quick reaction saved me from careening into his hood and flying into oncoming traffic.
His fault, right? According to the police officer that arrived on the scene, it was. The driver and I exchanged info and he agreed to pay for damages so we could avoid going through insurance. Since no actual collision had occurred, we figured that was the best way to go.
However, the driver quickly reneged on our deal and I contacted my insurance broker to see about my options.
My insurance broker explained to me that because no collision had occurred, there was no fault and I would be on the hook for my own damages – or put a claim through my own insurance to cover it.
We discussed my options and he gave me advice that was in my best interest. I ended up buying the parts and repairing the bike myself, with the help of a much more mechanically-inclined friend. That chat with the broker saved me hundreds of dollars.
Consolidating insurance can save you money – but not always
I recently required home insurance to finalize a property purchase. I called my broker and asked for a quote. After some back and forth, the broker came back with a great price through a different insurer than the one that provides my motorcycle insurance.
Confused, I called the broker and asked about bundling the insurance together to save money. The broker explained that oftentimes bundling insurance can save money but, in this case, based on some discounts I qualified for with the home insurer (who doesn’t offer motorcycle insurance), I’d save more money by keeping my insurance separate.
And that goes back to my last point: A good insurance broker will have your back.
The bottom line
Motorcycle insurance can seem complicated and intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be. Do your research (before you purchase a bike), compare your options, and find a broker or insurer that you feel will have your best interests at heart and you’ll be on your way to affordable motorcycle ownership – and maybe one step closer to your own cross-country moto trip.