Motorcycle Insurance Guide

Understand these insurance coverages and know what you have and don’t have before you are injured in a motorcycle accident or your motorcycle is a total loss. If you would like a FREE consultation to review your motorcycle insurance coverage, we are happy to provide this free service to help motorcyclists in New York (we do not sell insurance).


Bodily Injury Liability (pays people you injure)

New York State requires a minimum bodily injury liability coverage limit of $25,000/$50,000.  This coverage protects people you injured because of your negligence. $50,000/100,000 is the minimum required if you cause someone’s death.  If you don’t already have higher amounts, we recommend increasing them, especially for motorcyclists because it will allow you to buy SUM (see 2. below).  Higher liability coverage has several benefits:

  • Protection of your assets and income, such as your house or salary from being garnished to pay a court judgment.
  • Continued free legal representation in the event you are sued for serious injuries because of your negligence.  This can save you as much as $50,000 or more for legal fees to defend you.
  • Increasing liability coverage allows you to increase your Uninsured/Underinsured coverage (see below) because you can not buy more uninsured/underinsured coverage than the amount of your liability coverage.

Explanation of liability coverage amounts:  Liability coverage is sold in different amounts.  For instance, the New York minimum liability coverage of $25,000/$50,000 means that in the event you negligently injure one or more people, the insurance will pay no more than $25,000 to any one person injured by you and no more than $50,000 to all persons injured by you in one accident.

A policy limit of $100,000/$300,000 works the same way with no more than $100,000 paid to any one person injured by you and no more than $300,000 paid to all persons injured by you in the same accident.

A policy with a $300,000 single limit will pay no more than $300,000 to any one person and no more than $300,000 to all persons injured in the same accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage or SUM (pays you)

Uninsured Motorist coverage and SUM or Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage is sold together with one premium for both insurance coverages.  This is the most important coverage of your motorcycle insurance policy you can buy because it will pay you when you are injured and you can not get the money you need from the person who negligently caused your injuries because there is no insurance or too little insurance.

For instance, your meniscus was torn needing arthroscopic surgery when your motorcycle hit a car making a left turn in front of you. We obtained a $465,000 jury verdict when this happened to our client. If the car that hits you only has $25,000 insurance, you can get more money by purchasing underinsured coverage.

Find out how much underinsured coverage you need – use our free underinsured coverage calculator.

Why would you need money if you are injured in a motorcycle accident?

  1. You are entitled to be financially compensated for your pain and suffering;
  2. You will need money to pay for medical items such as an ambulance, hospital expenses, doctor expenses, physical therapy, prescription and nonprescription drugs, nursing services, household services;
  3. You are entitled to be reimbursed for lost wages;
  4. You are entitled to be reimbursed for other financial hardships which will occur when you are injured in a motorcycle accident, for instance, you may be unable to pay your rent or mortgage and other expenses while you are out of work.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, would $25,000 be enough if that’s all the negligent driver had?  That’s why uninsured and underinsured coverage is so important.

Uninsured Motorist coverage pays you for your pain and suffering; medical treatment; lost wages; and other related expenses if you are injured by someone who negligently caused your injuries and is not insured or a “hit and run”.  Examples of when Uninsured Motorist coverage will pay you if you are injured and the other vehicle contacted you or your motorcycle:

  • There must be contact between the other vehicle and you or your motorcycle (if any part of a vehicle hits your motorcycle, tire or any part of your body, that’s contact).  If there is contact, any one of the following 3 accidents will pay you from your Uninsured Motorist coverage:
  • You are injured by someone who has no insurance (approximately 9% of cars in New York have no insurance)
  • You are injured by a “hit and run” driver (this is not uncommon with motorcycle accidents)
  • You are injured by someone who is driving a stolen car (a car which has been stolen is no longer covered by insurance)

As an example, if a car hits your motorcycle and has no insurance coverage or left the scene and is not identifiable or was stolen, you can not collect any money from that vehicle.  If you have $250,000 Uninsured Motorist coverage and you suffer a typical motorcycle injury, your insurance company will pay you up to $250,000!

SUM is an abbreviation for Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage.  SUM will protect you by reimbursing you for your injury in the event that you are injured in a motorcycle accident by someone else who negligently caused your injuries and who had less liability insurance than you.  To make a claim for SUM coverage, there must be contact between the other vehicle and you or your motorcycle.  If any part of a vehicle hits your motorcycle, tire or any part of your body, that’s contact.

Following is an example of when SUM/Underinsured Motorist coverage will pay you if you are injured and the other vehicle contacted you or your motorcycle:

If you have a $300,000 liability insurance policy and the other vehicle which struck your motorcycle had any amount of liability insurance less than $300,000, your underinsured endorsement option will pay you the difference up to the value of your injury.

As an example, if a car which hits your motorcycle has the New York minimum $25,000 liability coverage and you suffer a typical type of injury for many motorcycle accidents, the insurance company for the other vehicle will pay you only $25,000 but your underinsured endorsement option will pay you up to an additional $275,000!

Find out how much you can buy and how much Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage you need.

Also, see underinsured and uninsured coverage explained.

Property Damage

Property Damage Liability For Damage You Cause to Someone Else’s Vehicle

This insurance coverage will reimburse other people or entities for property damage you caused because of your negligence. This can include another vehicle you damage or other items, even a storefront you accidentally ride into.  The minimum insurance coverage for property damage required in New York is $10,000.00.  Increasing this coverage to a more realistic amount is inexpensive.

Property Damage to Your Motorcycle


This coverage will reimburse you for damage caused to your motorcycle whether or not you are at fault.  Because the minimum insurance coverage for property damage in New York is $10,000.00, if your motorcycle is valuable you should consider protecting your investment with collision coverage.  But be careful of the type of collision coverage you purchase.  There are three types of collision coverage ACV, SVC & AVC, discussed below.

There are many advantages to purchasing collision coverage. Of course, if the accident was your fault or your motorcycle was damaged in a hit-and-run accident, you’ll be out of luck unless you have collision coverage.

Where a driver is at fault for causing your accident, you are entitled to reimbursement for your damage from the fault driver’s insurance company. However, since you are not the insured of that insurance company, the insurance company has almost no obligation to you and can refuse to pay you until ordered by a court. This can take a very long time but if you have collision coverage, you will be paid immediately. If you have a deductible and the other driver is at fault, you can ask your insurance company to seek reimbursement of your deductible from the other insurance company.

NYS law (11 NYCRR 216.0) regulating insurance company responsibilities regarding handling of collision claims and your rights when making a collision damage claim.

Should you buy collision coverage?


This coverage will reimburse you for damage or loss of your motorcycle in the event of flood, storm, fire, vandalism, theft or another reason which doesn’t involve an accident with another vehicle.  But be careful of the type of comprehensive coverage you purchase (ACV, SVC or AVC), although this should be the same type of coverage as your collection as I do not believe that any insurance company will sell one type of coverage for collision and another for comprehensive.  Comprehensive coverage is usually only available if you purchase collision coverage.

Additional Accessory Coverage

This coverage will reimburse you for a higher amount of damage to custom work on your motorcycle, such as expensive chrome parts and a custom paint job.  This coverage may not be available from all insurance companies.  If you have a need for this, make sure you buy motorcycle insurance from a company that offers it.

Types of Coverage for Collision & Comprehensive

The types of collision coverage are important to consider because motorcycles are almost always totaled after an accident. When your motorcycle is totaled, how much money you will get will be determined by which of these three types of collision coverage you have.

Actual Cash Value Coverage

This is the type of coverage which most motorcyclists have for their motorcycle collision and comprehensive coverage. An Actual Cash Value Insurance policy will pay you the retail “book value” less the depreciation of your motorcycle in the event of a claim for a total loss. Be careful about the use of the phrase “book value” which means nothing.  The older the motorcycle and the more mileage, the less value it has.  This amount should be enough for you to replace your motorcycle with another similarly used motorcycle.

Stated Value Coverage

This type of policy is not better than Actual Cash Value. It allows you to “state” a specific value for your motorcycle but the policy will say that in the event of theft or a total loss the insurance company will pay the Stated Value or the Actual Cash Value, whichever is less. Stated Value insurance allows you to insure your motorcycle for less than what its really worth in exchange for a lower premium.  This is for people who might consider self-insuring for collision coverage but would like some coverage. Example: You have a motorcycle worth $100,000.  If you don’t want to pay the collision coverage, you could eliminate it or instead, insure it for only $30,000 and save money on the premium.

If you’re looking for Stated Value, you are probably thinking of Agreed Value Coverage (see below), so make sure you get Agreed Value Coverage and not Stated Value Coverage.

Agreed Value Coverage

If you have a high-value motorcycle; custom motorcycle; collector motorcycle; or antique motorcycle, you probably want Agreed Value Coverage. This coverage is only available from some insurance companies.  Agreed Value Coverage is for a motorcycle which you do not believe will depreciate and where you want to know that you will receive a specific amount of money, even years later, in the event that your motorcycle is a total loss.  The agreed value is printed on your policy and is an amount which both you and your insurance company agree is the value of your motorcycle.  This will guarantee that in the event of a total loss, you will receive the amount which you and your insurance company agreed is the value of your motorcycle when you purchased the policyThere will be no deduction from the agreed value for depreciation.  Progressive sells agreed value coverage for Motorcycles whose manufacturers are listed but have no resale values listed in the NADA Appraisal Guide and Motorcycles 25 years old and older.

What If You Did Not Have Collision Damage Coverage? 

If you did not have collision coverage on your motorcycle and someone else is negligent for causing the damage to your motorcycle, you can file a claim against that person.  You are entitled to the retail replacement cost of your motorcycle plus sales tax.  You are not required to replace your motorcycle by purchasing from a private seller, you can buy one from a motorcycle dealer.  However, you are only entitled to the money needed to buy the same motorcycle which means similar mileage, age, condition, etc.

Medical Coverage for Motorcyclists

How much are medical bills for injuries in a motorcycle accident?

No-fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

No-Fault or PIP is the insurance coverage that pays for medical treatment and lost wages when someone is injured in a car accident. No-Fault coverage is NOT available to New York motorcyclists or passengers of a motorcycle, scooter or moped.  See “What law says that NYS No-Fault Insurance doesn’t cover motorcyclists

What does No-Fault (PIP) cover in a NY motorcycle policy?

You will see No-Fault or PIP coverage on your New York motorcycle insurance policy because it is available to a pedestrian that is struck by your motorcycle.

NY motorcycle insurance policy showing No Fault coverage

Who pays the medical bills for a motorcyclist or a passenger on a motorcycle injured in a motorcycle accident?

The medical bills are paid by the motorcyclist’s health insurance. The passenger’s medical bills are paid by the passenger’s health insurance. If the motorcyclist was working at the time of the motorcycle accident, the medical bills are covered by workers compensation.

Medical payments also called “Med Pay”

This is available to motorcyclists and passengers of a motorcycle to help pay for medical bills but is usually only available with relatively low limits. Most insurance companies offer up to $5,000 but some will sell more. This is extremely inexpensive and I strongly recommend taking the maximum coverage available.

Med Pay should be used to pay for deductibles, co-payments or any medical expenses not covered by your medical insurance. Do not use Med Pay to pay for hospital or medical bills.

Most insurance company claims representatives do not understand how Med Pay works and treat it as no-fault by using it to pay your hospital bill when it is supposed to be used for your medical expenses not covered by your health insurance.  For our motorcycle accident clients, we send a letter to your motorcycle insurance company warning them not to make any medical payments without your consent.

How Else Can I Protect Myself?

  • Purchase $300,000 or $500,000 Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage.
  • Have regular private health insurance.  Some companies like Costco provide full health insurance to even part-time employees And they have many part-time employees who work there just to get the health insurance coverage.
  • Can’t afford Health Insurance? Check out Health Care Programs for New Yorkers at the Department Of Health
  • Purchase the maximum amount of medical payments benefits from your motorcycle insurance company, even if you have regular private health insurance.
  • Purchase insurance which will pay you a certain amount of money for every day for which you are in the hospital.  For instance, State Farm offers a hospital indemnity plan
  • Purchase disability insurance coverage.

What if I was injured in a motorcycle accident and didn’t have health insurance?

We have doctors in many medical specialties who will agree to provide you medical treatment without any money up front and get paid at the end of your case. The advantage to this is that you don’t have to pay interest. We can usually arrange treatment with the following medical specialties:

  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Dental

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and need medical treatment but don’t have insurance, give us a call


Misc. Types of Coverage

Roadside Assistance coverage

This may be useful if you are concerned about breaking down on the road and needing a tow.  The benefits provided by this type of coverage can vary greatly from one company to another.

Before you buy motorcycle insurance, read NY Motorcycle Insurance Buying Tips

If you have questions about New York motorcycle insurance, we will be happy to provide you with a FREE insurance coverage consultation.

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At HURT911® you can speak with Dream Team Partners Rob Plevy, Esq. and Phil Franckel, Esq. whenever you need throughout your case and afterward, days/nights/weekends.

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