The Ultimate Motorcycle Insurance Guide explains the different types of insurance coverage for motorcycles and cars so you 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’re in New York and 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).
Full Coverage Insurance
Full Coverage Insurance is the best insurance coverage you thought you could get. But you can’t buy it and won’t see it on any insurance policy because it doesn’t exist. If you ask for it, you’ll get minimal insurance coverage! Watch my video.
When you ask for full coverage, insurance company salespeople usually quote you for $100,000/$300,000 liability, collision, and comprehensive (fire and theft). But that’s only a little better than minimum insurance coverage.
The Ultimate Motorcycle Insurance Guide will explain your options when purchasing motorcycle insurance or car insurance.
Because of a New York law that Phil Franckel got passed in June 2019, “full coverage” will now include a quote for underinsured and uninsured coverage that has the same limits as your liability.
There is liability coverage for Bodily Injury and liability coverage for Property Damage.
Liability coverage for Bodily Injury pays for injuries you cause to another person because of your negligence up to the limit of your coverage.
Liability coverage for Property Damage pays for damage you cause to someone else’s property because of your negligence up to the limit of your coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability
New York State requires a minimum bodily injury liability coverage limit of $25,000/$50,000, but you can buy much more.
Liability coverage for Bodily Injury pays for injuries you cause to other persons because of your negligence up to the limit of your coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability coverage provides the following protections:
- Protects people you injured.
- Protects your income.
- Protects your assets.
- Pays the expense for a claims representative to handle a claim against you.
- Pays the expense for a defense lawyer to represent you if a lawsuit is filed against you.
Money paid by bodily injury liability coverage can be used to compensate an injured person for pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, past and future lost income, and other damages.
The New York State minimum increases to $50,000/100,000 when someone is killed.
Does bodily injury liability coverage cover the driver and owner of a car?
Bodily injury liability coverage does not insure the driver or owner of a car for an injury.
However, bodily injury liability coverage sort of gives you insurance for two things.
- It protects your assets from being used to pay a claim for injuries you cause to someone else. In that sense, it gives you asset insurance.
- Because it will pay to compensate someone you injure, and the insurance company must defend a claim against your insurance policy, it includes the cost to pay claims staff and lawyers to defend you. In that sense, it gives you legal insurance.
Recommended bodily injury liability coverage
If you don’t already have higher amounts, we recommend increasing them to as much as you can afford, especially for motorcyclists, because it will allow you to buy SUM coverage (see 2. below).
Higher bodily injury liability coverage has several benefits:
- 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.
- Protection of your assets and income, such as your house or salary, from being garnished to pay a court judgment.
- Continued free legal representation if 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.
Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage or SUM (pays you)
Uninsured Motorist coverage and SUM or Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage are the most important coverage of a motorcycle insurance policy.
Uninsured Motorist coverage and SUM or Supplementary Underinsured are often abbreviated as UM (Uninsured) and SUM (Supplementary Underinsured) or UIM (Underinsured).
Uninsured Motorist coverage and SUM or Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage are 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 pays 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, if your meniscus was torn and you needed arthroscopic surgery when your motorcycle hit a car making a left turn in front of you, and that car has only $25,000 of bodily liability insurance, that’s likely all you can get.
A knee injury with a torn meniscus is a common motorcycle injury worth a lot of money. We obtained a $465,000 jury verdict when our client’s motorcycle hit a car making a left turn in front of him, and he needed arthroscopic surgery.
Injured? Call 1-800-HURT-911® Founding Partner Rob Plevy right now for your free consultation!
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Explanation of Insurance Limits and Liability Coverage Amounts
Liability, Uninsured Motorist coverage, and SUM or Supplementary Underinsured Motorist coverage are sold in different coverage amounts.
Coverage amounts are sold as a split limit or single limit. A split limit looks like $300,000/$500,000, and a single limit looks like $500,000.
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 one person injured by you and no more than $50,000 to all persons injured by you in the same 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 single limit will pay no more than the amount listed to any one or all people injured in an accident.
- You caused an accident because you lost control of your motorcycle, your girlfriend was a passenger, and your motorcycle hit a pedestrian.
- Both your girlfriend and the pedestrian were injured.
- If you have an insurance policy limit of $100,000/$300,000, your girlfriend can get up to $100,000, and the pedestrian can get up to $100,000.
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.
- Assume the facts in the above example.
- If you have an insurance policy limit with a single limit of $300,000, your girlfriend can get up to $300,000, and the pedestrian can get up to $300,000, but the maximum paid to both will be no more than $300,000, so their lawyers will have to decide how much each can get and if they can’t settle, it will be determined at a trial.
Why would you need money if you were injured in a motorcycle accident?
- You are entitled to be financially compensated for your pain and suffering;
- 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;
- You are entitled to be reimbursed for lost wages;
- You are entitled to be reimbursed for other financial hardships that will occur when you are injured in a motorcycle accident. For instance, you may be unable to pay your rent, 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 if you are injured in a “hit and run” accident.
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 that has been stolen is no longer covered by insurance)
For 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 coverage will protect you by reimbursing you for your injury if you are injured in a motorcycle accident by someone else who negligently caused your injuries and 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 contacts you or your motorcycle:
If you have a $300,000 liability insurance policy and the other vehicle that 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 that 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.
Property Damage Liability For Damage You Cause to Someone Else’s Vehicle
Property Damage Liability 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
Collision coverage will reimburse you for damage caused to your motorcycle, whether or not you are at fault.
Collision coverage will reimburse you for damage whether or not another car has insurance coverage, and no matter what the facts of the accident are, as long as there is a collision with another vehicle or object.
Examples of when collision coverage will reimburse you for damage to your car or motorcycle:
- Hit-and-run accidents.
- When another vehicle dropped a part on the road, such as a tire, that caused damage. For example, one of our clients lost control of his motorcycle when it skidded on oil that suddenly leaked out of a car, causing its engine to seize. Our client’s collision coverage would have paid for the motorcycle, but we got the car’s insurance to pay.
- You hit a parked vehicle.
- You hit an object, such as a sign, pole, or guardrail. Hopefully, that never happens! Robin, one of our clients, who we love, hit a guardrail and was very seriously injured.
- You hit a bump in the road, causing damage.
Because the minimum insurance coverage for property damage in New York is $10,000.00, you should consider protecting your investment with collision coverage if your motorcycle is valuable.
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 at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, since that insurance company does not insure you, the insurance company has almost no obligation to you and can move slowly or refuse to pay you until ordered by a court.
If you have to file a lawsuit, it can take a very long time, but you will be paid immediately if you have collision coverage. 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) regulates insurance company responsibilities regarding the handling of collision claims and your rights when making a collision damage claim.
Comprehensive coverage will reimburse you for damage or loss of your motorcycle in the event of a flood, storm, fire, vandalism, theft, or another reason that doesn’t involve an accident.
But be careful of the type of comprehensive coverage you purchase (ACV, SVC, or AVC). This should be the same type of coverage as your collision coverage although I do not believe any insurance company will sell one type of coverage for collision and another for comprehensive.
You can buy collision coverage without comprehensive coverage, but comprehensive coverage is usually only available if you also purchase collision coverage.
Additional Accessory Coverage
Additional Accessory coverage will reimburse you for a higher amount of damage for 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
Actual Cash Value Coverage is the type of coverage most motorcyclists have for motorcycle collision and comprehensive coverage.
An Actual Cash Value Insurance policy will pay you the retail “book value” less the depreciation of your motorcycle if it is 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
Stated Value coverage 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 it’s 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. You don’t want to pay for collision coverage, so you partially 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, a custom motorcycle, a collector motorcycle, or an antique motorcycle, you probably want Agreed Value Coverage. I have Agreed Value Coverage for my antique car.
Agreed Value Coverage coverage is only available from some insurance companies.
Agreed Value Coverage is for a motorcycle you do not believe will depreciate, and when you want to know that, you will receive a specific amount of money, even years later, if your motorcycle is a total loss.
The agreed value is printed on your policy and is an amount that 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 that you and your insurance company agreed is the value of your motorcycle when you purchased the policy. There 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 damage to your motorcycle, you can file a claim against that person or company.
Find out what you have to do when you don’t have collision insurance coverage, your motorcycle is damaged, and what you’re entitled to.
Can I Keep My Motorcycle if it is Totaled?
Find out if you can keep your motorcycle when the insurance company totals it.
Medical Coverage for Motorcyclists
No-fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
No-Fault is also called PIP (Personal Injury Protection). No-Fault or PIP is first-party insurance coverage (First-party insurance provides compensation directly to the insured) that pays for medical treatment, lost wages, household help, and other benefits 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.”
If you have a motorcycle accident involving a car, treatment for the injuries of the driver of the car will be paid by the driver’s No-Fault coverage. The driver’s No-Fault coverage will not pay for the treatment of the motorcyclist’s injuries, and the motorcyclist cannot have No-Fault coverage from the motorcycle policy.
No-Fault has nothing to do with who’s at fault for causing an accident and has nothing to do with bodily injury coverage.
No-Fault or PIP does not pay for pain and suffering like bodily injury liability coverage, which is called third-party insurance coverage.
What does No-Fault (PIP) cover in a New York motorcycle policy?
You will see No-Fault or PIP coverage on your New York motorcycle insurance policy because it is available to a pedestrian who is struck by your motorcycle.
Who pays the medical bills for a motorcyclist or a passenger on a motorcycle injured in a motorcycle accident?
The motorcyclist’s health insurance pays the medical bills. The passenger’s health insurance pays the passenger’s medical bills. 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 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 from Medical Bills?
- 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. Many part-time employees work there just to get 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 payment 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 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 with medical treatment without any money upfront, and they will get paid at the end of your case. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to pay interest. We can usually arrange treatment with the following medical specialties:
- Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
- Plastic Surgery
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and need medical treatment but don’t have insurance, call us, and we’ll get it done.
Motorcycle Insurance With Winter Lay-Up Coverage for Storage
Some insurance companies offer a lay-up insurance option or seasonal motorcycle insurance for riders who want to store their motorcycle during winter. Even if you ride during the winter, many riders have several motorcycles and only use one during the winter while keeping the other motorcycles off the road in storage.
The advantage of insurance with a lay-up option is a lower premium because it doesn’t include liability coverage or uninsured and underinsured coverage during the lay-up period. During the lay-up period, you are only covered against fire, theft, and vandalism.
The disadvantage is that you can’t take your motorcycle on the road during the lay-up period. This has been a problem with some motorcyclists when there were nice days before the lay-up period ended.
If you take your motorcycle on the road during the lay-up period, you won’t have does not provide liability coverage, uninsured and underinsured coverage, or collision insurance if you have an accident, and you could get a ticket.
Many insurers don’t offer layup policies but may allow you to change your motorcycle insurance coverage and limits or cancel your motorcycle policy anytime. If you don’t ride during the winter, you can lower your liability limits or drop any coverages needed to ride on the road.
We don’t recommend canceling your insurance at the end of the riding season because of the following reasons:
- You won’t have coverage if your motorcycle is stolen.
- You won’t have coverage if your motorcycle is totaled in a fire.
- If your motorcycle is financed, the bank will require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage at all times to protect its investment.
Why We Don’t Recommend Lay-Up Insurance
We don’t recommend lay-up insurance, lowering your liability limits, or dropping any coverages needed to ride on the road because you may forget to increase your liability limits or add back the coverages you previously had.
We had a client who had several motorcycles in storage. He had $250,000 of liability and uninsured and underinsured coverage, but during the winter, he decreased his liability and uninsured and underinsured coverage to $25,000.
In the spring, he took out one of his motorcycles that was in storage, but he forgot to increase his coverage after the winter. He was severely injured in a motorcycle accident by a car that had the New York State minimum liability coverage. Since our client no longer had $250,000 of underinsured coverage, he could only get $25,000.
Misc. Types of Motorcycle Insurance Coverage
Roadside Assistance coverage
Roadside Assistance coverage may be useful if you are concerned about breaking down on the road and needing a tow. The benefits of this type of coverage can vary greatly from one company to another.
Where to Buy the Cheapest Motorcycle Insurance
Is Progressive motorcycle insurance or GEICO motorcycle insurance the cheapest motorcycle insurance?
You might get cheap motorcycle insurance quotes from Progressive or GEICO, but the cheapest place to buy motorcycle insurance or any insurance is from an independent insurance agent.
Independent insurance agents work with several insurance companies to get you the cheapest premium and will make sure you don’t lose thousands of dollars when you have a claim with the wrong insurance coverage.
Where can you find an independent insurance agent? Search on Google for independent insurance agents near me.
Before you buy motorcycle insurance, read NY Motorcycle Insurance Buying Tips
If there’s too much information in our Ultimate Motorcycle Insurance Guide, speak with an independent insurance agent.
If you have questions about New York motorcycle insurance, we will happily provide you with a FREE insurance coverage consultation.
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.