Understanding The Importance Of Motorcycle Insurance

The Many Faces Of Personal Vehicle Insurance: How To Keep Yourself Covered On The Go

by Raymond Gibson

Many people automatically envision car insurance when the conversation turns to personal vehicle coverage, and rightly so. But if you're the adventurous type who is always seeking new, fun ways to explore your world, who may have other vehicles in your stable than the traditional car, truck or minivan. The smartest approach is to make sure you've got the right kind of coverage for the right conveyance no matter what you happen to be riding or driving. Here are four different types of personal vehicles and the insurance protections you should consider for each of them.

Your Car

It should go without saying that you need to carry at least the legal minimum car insurance required by your state. If you're caught driving without insurance, you can expect to get hit with all kinds of fines and penalties, up to and including license suspension or jail. But those minimum coverage limits may not do you much good in the real world, no matter how much you're saving on premiums. If you're carrying only $10,000 in liability insurance and you hit even a relatively modest new import, that $10,000 may pay only a fraction of the repair or replacement cost.

On the other hand, there are situations in which less car insurance can make a certain amount of sense. While you always want to be well protected in terms of personal injury and liability coverage, you may have some wiggle room when it comes to the comprehensive and collision areas of your policy. If you have a new, valuable vehicle, you'll want to invest in significant comprehensive and collision coverage. But if you're driving an ancient car worth practically nothing on the open market, you may as well save yourself the comprehensive premiums and put that money toward the next car (or use it to beef up the other parts of your policy).

Your Motorcycle (and Scooter)

No matter how skilled, experienced and safety minded you may be, there's no getting around the fact that motorcycles can be extremely dangerous to ride. The two-wheeled design lends itself to wipeouts and other accidents which may leave you with a hunk of twisted chrome where your treasured bike used to be. The biggest mistake in owning a motorcycle is assuming that car insurance policy will extend to your motorcycle -- because it won't. This not only means you're driving without legal requirements for coverage, but in some states it also means that you''' forfeit your right to sue for damages if you're injured by another party. Always purchase separate motorcycle insurance before you take that beautiful new bike out on the road for the first time. 

If you thought your little 50cc scooter might somehow be exempt from the need for insurance, think again. While it's true that some motorized vehicles such as mopeds are modest enough in engine size to escape some legal requirements for insurance, any vehicle with a 500cc or larger motor is considered a motorcycle in the eyes of the law. In the event of theft, vandalism or accident damage, you'll be glad you did the right thing.

Your Bicycle

All the vehicles discussed up to this point are equipped with motors -- but human-powered vehicles get into trouble as well. If your beautiful new bicycle is stolen or destroyed, you'll wish you'd protected it through insurance coverage just as you took the care to protect your gas-powered or electric-powered "wheels." The good news is that you might already be covered, at least to a certain extent, through your homeowner's or renter's insurance. These policies protect against theft or natural disaster to your home-based property, including your bike, after you've paid the deductible. Keep in mind that if your deductible is, say, $500, your bike would need to be worth substantially more than that to make filing a claim worthwhile. But it's a great resource for replacing that expensive, top-of-the-line Italian racing machine.

What about damages sustained on the road? Sadly, homeowner's or renter's insurance won't cover the consequences of a crash. If you cycle on crowded streets in close proximity to rush rush-hour traffic, you may want to invest in a separate bicycle insurance policy. These policies cover the various components of a damaged bicycle, including the frame, so you can get the repairs or replacements you need to get back on the road. But there's still the chance that you might hit and injure a pedestrian or cause injury to a driver. Since your bicycle insurance won't include personal injury protection, you'd be wise to carry umbrella insurance as well. This form of coverage acts as gap insurance for everything your existing policies can't cover, typically to the tune of $1 million or more.

Insure your entire fleet of two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles and you can take to the road without undue anxiety -- and without any nasty, avoidable financial surprises if things go wrong. Have a safe, happy journey!