Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 24, 2015

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Just like any other vehicle, motorcycles must be insured by an auto insurance provider that is licensed to conduct business in your state. You must also maintain a valid driver’s license in order to operate a motorcycle in all states. This means, motorcycle insurance requirements and motorcycle insurance laws are no different than those for cars and passenger trucks.

Motorcycle Minimum Coverage

Motorcycle insurance coverage may cost slightly more based on the risks associated with owning and driving a bike.  Every state requires minimum insurance coverage for vehicles, and, depending on the state, the minimum coverage for motorcycles can be higher than it is for cars.  An accident involving a motorcycle has the potential to be serious and expensive, and some states require riders to have sufficient insurance to cover a potentially expensive crash.

For example, Alaska and Maine require a motorcycle rider to carry insurance that covers $50,000 per person for injuries, $100,000 maximum for injuries per accident, and $25,000 for property damage (written as: 50/100/25).  In contrast, most car insurance minimum requirements are significantly lower at 10/20/10 ($10,000 per person for injuries, $20,000 for injuries per accident, and $10,000 in property damage).  In states with higher insurance requirements for motorcycles, riders can expect to pay more for their coverage.  Be sure you know what your state’s minimum insurance requirements for motorcycles is before you purchase a policy.

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Coverage Beyond the Minimum

Even in states with high minimum insurance requirements, the coverage is likely not going to be enought to protect you and any other injured parties in the event of an accident that you are found to be liable for. As a result, most state insurance agencies and auto insurance companies recommend carrying 100/300/100 to be on the safe side, plus uninsured, underinsured motorist coverage in an amount you can afford. The insurance costs for a motorcycle can quickly add up, but if these coverage amounts seem excessive you need to consider the cost of your bike, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses that you might have to pay resulting from a serious accident involving multiple parties and injuries. 

The purpose of an insurance policy is to pay for all the damages after an accident, and you need to carry sufficient coverage to protect yourself.  If you cause an accident that results in serious and expensive injuries that your insurance can not cover because of coverage limits, then you will be paying the balance out of pocket.

Besides mandatory insurance, each state has specific motorcycle laws involving safety and specific licensing issues. Contact your insurance agent or your state division of insurance to learn more about motorcycle safety, licensing, and insurance laws.