Best Motorcycle Insurance
Low premiums aren't all that matter
Motorcycle insurance isn't required everywhere, but the experts we talked to unanimously agree: even in states with minimum insurance requirements, it’s best to pay a few extra dollars each month for expanded coverage. State minimums are rarely enough to cover you in the event of an accident. Because of this, the best motorcycle insurance comes from an insurers with a range of coverage options, an easy quote process, and streamlined claims reporting to get you back on the road.
Quotes are easy to get online, and premiums are always competitively priced. Coverage options are numerous, and the claims process is streamlined and digitized.
Standout Coverage Options
Having good motorcycle insurance is just as important as having good car insurance; arguably, even more so, considering the potential consequences of an accident. Forty-five states require at least some base level of coverage, but all of the experts we talked to agree: you should always get as much motorcycle insurance coverage as you can afford. To find the best motorcycle insurance, we started with a list of 84 of the nation’s top providers and then narrowed it down by evaluating which had the widest coverage options, best discounts, and easiest quote and claims processes. The specific premiums offered by each company weren’t assessed, since each individual’s quote will be different — depending on your bike, age, experience level, and a host of other factors. To get the best price, you’ll need to compare quotes.
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Our Picks for Best Motorcycle Insurance
Best Overall — Progressive
Progressive was consistently in the top tier for all of our tests and evaluations, offering up coverage options, discounts, easy-to-get quotes, and a streamlined and digitized claims process. Plenty of other insurance companies had one piece of the puzzle, but Progressive put it all together.
Progressive checked all of the boxes for important coverage types, like property damage liability, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and comprehensive coverage. It also has coverage options we didn’t see anywhere else, including Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts coverage. (OEM coverage means that if you’re driving a BMW bike, you’ll be covered for the full cost of new BMW parts, something that’s important to brand loyalists, and those with an eye on the resale value.) Progressive was also the only company among the top contenders to include an “Agreed Value” option for collision and comprehensive coverage. This is essential if your bike is a collectors item that’s only appreciating in value; you can insure it for an appraised value that’s agreed on by you and the insurer. They even offer coverage for the personal belongings you carry, which is great if you commute to work with a laptop in your backpack.
Another area where Progressive really brings it to the table — and where lots of others fell short — was in offering easy-to-use online quote options. Some of the companies we evaluated had clunky websites that made figuring out how to get a quote difficult (looking at you, Foremost: For a company with a good online claims-reporting process, you made it really tough for us to figure out how to get a quote online). Not Progressive — the company has clearly shelled out for modern web design and functionality, which made the user experience smooth and hassle-free.
What’s more, it was one of only two motorcycle insurance companies we liked that offered a mobile app. With the free app, you can file a claim, take pictures with your phone to document the damage, and then upload them to your claims report. It also makes getting roadside assistance easier — we were able to call for assistance with just two taps from the app’s home screen. Added bonus: The app offered how-to articles about jumpstarting a dead battery and packing an emergency toolkit to have with you on the road, making it an educational resource too.
Runner-Up — Foremost
Foremost is another solid choice with good coverage (scoring only a few points lower than Progressive, but offering the highest automatic coverage for after-market equipment ($3,500). It also has heaping discounts (it even offers a renewal discount, something Progressive didn’t). But, where it really stood out for us was its strong claims-reporting process. Its claims center is available 24/7, and you can file a claim by contacting an agent online or over the phone. Its online support even has a live chat feature. (While Progressive has an online chat option, it’s only available to policyholders, so we weren’t able to take it for a spin.) Foremost’s online chat option connected us with a polite, knowledgeable service rep within minutes, who answered all of our questions with ease.
Foremost was close to being our top pick, but it fell short when compared to Progressive with its online quote tool: it involves you requesting a quote online, and then waiting an unspecified amount of time for the company to get back to you by email or phone. If you’re trying to get your insurance shopping done online in an afternoon, Foremost does not make it easy for you.
Standout Coverage Options — Markel American
Markel may not be pumping enough money into its advertising budget to make it so you know its name, but the company sure isn’t skimping on discounts. Maybe that’s because Markel knows its audience: A lot of motorcyclists shop for insurance based on price alone. We spoke to motorcycle enthusiast Oliver Shami, a San Diego-based personal injury lawyer in the law offices of Robert Hamparyan, and he bemoaned the fact that, more often than not, people who are shopping for motorcycle insurance are focused solely on price. To appeal to the frugal riders out there, we saw Markel American offering the key discounts we looked for: safe driver, safety course, theft device, anti-lock brakes, and renewal. This doesn’t automatically make Markel the cheapest option in every case, however. Our sample quote we requested came in at more than six times the number Progressive gave us (see table below), but not all of Markel’s available discounts applied to our particular imaginary rider either. The premium could be drastically different for another rider.
Markel American prides itself on offering “speciality insurance by real specialists,” and that showed in the specific, granular coverage options it offers for motorcyclists. For example, the company offers accessory coverage, knowing that option matters to bikers who have shelled out hundreds on their saddlebags, sidecases, motorcycle GPS, Bluetooth communication sets for helmets, and other costly gear. Another important type of coverage it offers is rental reimbursement, something especially meaningful for riders who use their bike as their main mode of transportation.
Like with Foremost, Markel American’s quote process lost the company some points — the section on its site wasn’t clearly laid out, and it doesn’t offer a mobile app. It does, however, allow you to purchase a policy entirely online, file your claim online, and it has a 24/7 claims center.
Great If You Can Get It — Esurance
Esurance’s motorcycle insurance is a solid choice. There’s just one problem: It’s only available in 11 states. If you request a quote, but don’t live in one of the states where it writes motorcycle insurance policies, you’ll just see suggestions for other companies (for example, if you’re in New York, you’ll see a message pointing you toward Progressive or Harley-Davidson Insurance). However, if you do live in one of the 11 states, Esurance rivals our top pick. It offers discounts, coverage options, and it really stood out in the claims process — just like Progressive, it offers a mobile app that you can use to file claims.
A quick explanation of premiums
Like we said, premiums will vary for different insurers and different drivers. But for the sake of illustration, we compiled a table of premiums from our top picks. We created an extensive profile, since requesting a quote requires a lot of info — any piece of which could make your quotes substantially different than the ones below. We looked at rates for a 41-year-old man who lives in California’s San Fernando Valley, rides a 2009 BMW R 1200 GS (it’s a top-selling bike from a top-selling manufacturer), and has a clean driving record. Some things to note: We gave him a clean driving history, but if you have accidents on your record, that will drive up premiums. He also lives in an urban area near Los Angeles, and a rural rider might not have to shell out as much.
Some key takeaways we learned:
- It pays to shop around. With our top picks, there’s a difference of more than $600 between the cheapest and most expensive options.
- Discounts matter. The safety course discount took more than $5 off premiums from Progressive and $15 off the premiums with Markel American at the 25/50 level. And that was only one discount.
- Upping coverage may only cost a bit more. While it will ultimately depend on the insurer, increasing liability coverage from the state minimum may be less expensive than you think. The increase from 15/30 to 25/50 is just $13 more with Progressive.
|Premium at 15/30||$120||$777||$281|
|...with a Safety Course discount||$114.75||$777||$281|
|Premium at 25/50||$133||$792||$381|
|...with a Safety Course discount||$127||$777||$381|
How We Found the Best Motorcycle Insurance
When it comes down to it, the most important part of insurance is knowing that you can rely on your provider if and when you need to. To evaluate each insurer’s financial stability, we looked to financial rating agencies A&M Best and Standard & Poor’s. Those agencies look for any hint of instability in order to make sure the insurer won’t go out of business, making it unable to meet its obligations to pay out on policyholders’ claims. All our top picks earned A’s from the agencies that rated them.
Premiums are probably the second most important. To find your best rates, you’ll want to shop around for quotes. Compare those with the rates you get from our favorites, then cruise on.
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We only looked at companies that offer coverage in at least 40 states.
That meant cutting smaller, niche companies that you may or may not have heard of, like Riders Insurance or California Casualty, who cater to a regional customer base.
This whittled our list down by quite a bit, but you can and should research your area to see if one of the smaller insurers is right for you. American Reliable, for example, offers more discounts than Progressive, including discounts for installing an anti-theft device, paying your policy in full, renewing your policy, and for being a mature rider. That said, a call to its customer service department revealed that it isn’t currently originating new policies in several states.
A-Affordable Insurance Agency, Acceptance, ACUITY Insurance, Adriana’s Insurance Services, American Family Insurance, American Reliable, Anderson-VanHorne Insurance, Arbella Insurance, Ashley Insurance, Associated Insurance Centers, Auto-Owners Insurance, Avalon Insurance Group, Bailey Place Insurance, Bear Insurance Service, BH Gold Insurance Agency, Breathe Easy Insurance, California Casualty, Coastal Insurance, Cost Cutter Insurance Agency, Country Financial, Cupp Insurance, Direct General, Earl Bacon Agency, Eastern Utah Insurance, EMC, Encompass Insurance, Erie Insurance, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Frankenmuth Mutual, Freeway Insurance, Gallant Insurance, Grange, GSM Insurors, Hallmark Insurance, Insure One, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Lighthouse Insurance, Middle Peninsula Insurance, Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance, Modern Insurance Marketing, Pekin Insurance, Plymouth Rock Assurance, Quality, Rider Insurance, Shelter Insurance, Vern Fonk Insurance, Wallin Insurance Agency, Western Insurance Agency, Westfield Insurance
We cut out the middlemen.
Some insurers don’t administer their own policies, but rather provide some combination of options involving customer service, brokerage, or claims reporting. These are essentially middlemen, and aren’t the ones responsible for shelling out when you’ve got a claim. Knowing and working with an insurance company that administers its own policy eliminates questions like what will happen to your policy if one of the companies involved goes out of business. To really evaluate the insurance options out there, we wanted to go to the source and focus on companies that are beginning-to-end providers.
21st Century, AIS Insurance, Allied Insurance, Bristol West Insurance Group, Dawson Companies, Elephant Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Harley Davidson, Motorcycle Services, The General Insurance
Do these guys really have you covered? We checked to make sure.
Liability coverage helps protect you if you’re found to be at fault for a traffic accident on your bike. Most states have their own legal requirements for the amount of liability coverage you must carry. Only five states — Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, and Washington — don’t require any motorcycle insurance whatsoever. Several others with no-fault auto insurance laws exclude motorcyclists from the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that’s required of other drivers (and pays medical bills after an accident). Most states hover around the same 25/50/25 ballpark (a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident, $50,000 for all injuries in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage), but Maine and Alaska clock in with the highest requirements at 50/100/25, and Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California are the lowest, with 15/30/5.
The experts we spoke with, though, said that state minimum liability levels are often lower than they should be, and won’t provide nearly enough coverage in the case of a bad accident. Brad Cummins, an independent agent with Insurance Market Agents, tells clients to purchase the highest limits they can afford — and while higher levels of liability coverage do cost more, stepping up your coverage to the next level (for example, from Ohio’s 25/50 to 100/300) likely won’t bump up your premium level that much.
The best motorcycle insurance providers will also offer a variety of coverage options in addition to the required liability coverage. Cummins recommends clients purchase collision, comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and roadside assistance coverage, and we looked for what our remaining contenders had to offer, keeping an eye out for the most important:
- Liability (Bodily Injury and Property Damage): If you’re found to be at fault in an accident that results in injury to others or damage to their property, this will cover the costs, including any lawsuits filed afterward. Required in most states.
- Comprehensive: Covers damage to your bike from non-accident-related incidents, such as theft, fire, vandalism, or severe weather. Optional in all states.
- Collision: Covers the cost of repairs if your bike is damaged in an accident. Optional in all states.
- Guest Passenger Liability: Covers the cost of injuries and property damage to anyone riding on the back of your bike during an accident.
- Medical Expenses (First Party Coverage): Covers your medical expenses if you're injured in an accident. While your health insurance should also kick in, this coverage can go toward co-pays or your deductible. Required in some states, optional in others.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: Covers any losses in an accident where the other driver is at fault, but they don’t have insurance, or don’t have enough insurance to cover your costs.
We weighted some coverage offers higher than others — collision coverage is more important than than, say, Actual Agreed Value, a coverage option that’s mostly useful to folks with a vintage or collectible ride. Then we counted them up, and nixed the providers with the fewest coverage options.
AAA, Aegis, American Modern, Amica , Infinity Insurance, Liberty Mutual, MetLife, Safeco Insurance, State Farm, USAA
We tallied up the discounts.
While your individual premium cost will ultimately be determined by all kinds of details, such as the make of your bike, your age, and your experience level, there’s another factor at play: discounts. Motorcycle insurers, just like auto insurers, often offer a number of discounts to shave dollars off your premium.
Again, we made a scorecard and handed out points. We gave top points for discounts that are widely available and accessible to everyone, such as taking a safety course or paying in full — a discount simply for cutting one large check to your insurer for the total amount of the monthly premiums per year, rather than shelling out month by month.
These discounts can take a buck or two (or 20) off your bill — all up, we looked for:
- Claims-free (no accidents, or at least no claims)
- Safety course (because it might make you a safer rider)
- Motorcycle association membership (you’re likely to take pride in your bike)
- Bundling coverage of multiple insured items (i.e. home, car, boat, etc.)
- Anti-theft device (your bike is harder to steal)
- Paid-in-full (paying the annual premium all at once, rather than monthly)
- Anti-lock brakes (reduces the risk of flipping your bike)
- Renewal (returning customer)
- Mature rider (you’ve got years of safe riding experience behind you)
The top scorer in this round? Pacific Specialty. It offered seven of our key discounts, including safe driver, safety course, motorcycle association membership, and anti-lock brakes. Some other companies wiped out: National General offered just one discount for safe driving. Those low scorers were eliminated.
Allstate, American National Property & Casualty, Dairyland Insurance, GEICO, National General Insurance, United Fire Group, Utica
We had some solid picks. It was time to put ‘em to the test.
Once we’d narrowed the list so that we were only looking at companies with good coverage and discounts, it was time to evaluate the experience of shopping for a quote and filing a claim.
We looked at quotes first. Getting a quote shouldn’t be too hard to do — a good insurance company will offer you easy, online tools that help you make a smart, informed choice. This was an area where Progressive started to stand out. Its website was clearly laid out and easy to use, and you’ll be able to purchase a policy entirely online. A dud in this round was Pacific Specialty. While it was the king of discounts, the company didn’t make it easy to shop its rates. You’ll need to pick up the phone and call an agent to find out what the coverage will cost you. On top of the added effort of calling (during business hours only, of course), that also means roping a third party into the process, because the agents don’t work for Pacific Specialty itself.
After we tested quotes, it was time to test how easy it would be to file a claim. While we’d love to test how these companies perform throughout the entire claims process, we couldn’t actually file a claim with them (that would be insurance fraud). So we pored over the details we could evaluate: the tools and process they offer to file claims. If you’re standing next to a wreck, the last thing you want to hear is a recorded message telling you to call back during business hours. So we looked for insurers that let you file a claim 24/7 either online or with a mobile app. A standout here: Foremost’s live-chat support for the claims process.
Did You Know?
State liability coverage limits aren't enough.
According to Shami, those lower limits could leave you out of luck if you sustain a serious injury. “You should get the maximum liability you can afford,” Shami said. “There’s a saying: You get a $50 helmet for a $50 head. Don’t skimp on your helmet, and don’t skimp on your insurance.”
But there’s another important reason to raise your liability coverage limits: uninsured, or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage). UM/UIM coverage pays for losses in an accident where the other driver is at fault, but they don’t have insurance, or don’t have enough insurance to cover your costs — but your UM/IUM coverage is usually only offered by insurers at the same level at which you are insured for liability. That means to get decent UM/UIM coverage, you may need to raise your liability coverage. Shami explains he often sees clients who are hit by underinsured drivers, but didn’t have the foresight to purchase UM/UIM coverage. In order to avoid having a difficult conversation with a personal injury attorney about your options to sue an underinsured driver, Shami suggests riders also purchase this coverage at the highest level they can afford.
Your credit score can affect your premium.
Most insurance companies will ask you for permission to check your credit history when requesting a quote. Studies have shown that there’s a correlation between a low credit score and a greater likelihood of filing a claim. If you have a higher credit score, you’ll almost always get a lower rate.
Take steps to stay safe on the road.
Art Friedman, former editor of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine and member of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Technical Working Group, told us he always recommends safety courses. “I take them regularly, and I always come away with something — a reminder, or something that I realize I could be doing better,” he said. Friedman pointed out that, statistically, taking a safety course is not proven to make riders safer over time. The most impactful safety measures a rider can take are things like always wearing a full-coverage, DOT-certified helmet, and wearing brightly colored gear to be more visible when riding, Friedman advised. But still, he thinks riders should take the course — it can’t hurt, and it can definitely help when it comes to premiums.
A lot of the insurers we evaluated offer a discount for riders who complete a safety course. You can find a course in your area through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. There are plenty to choose from — beginner courses that last two or three days and involve 15 hours on-cycle, to advanced courses involving complex traffic scenarios, and even e-courses you can take online.
Motorcycle insurance is not one-size-fits-all.
By this point, you get it: You should get more than the minimum liability coverage that your state requires (especially if your state doesn’t require any). So what exactly does that mean for you? Figuring that out can feel like ordering off an a la carte menu: a little guest passenger liability here, a little medical coverage there, and I should be set — right?
Friedman, who’s been riding motorcycles for more than 50 years, says he turns to an independent insurance agent to talk through his needs, and explain his best options for coverage. Chatting about your situation with an independent insurance agent can help make sure you’ve got the right coverage for you. In addition, DMV.org offers a guide that explains the ins and outs of motorcycle insurance coverage types. Alongside succinct definitions of the various coverage options, it also offers a tool to look up your state’s individual laws on motorcycle insurance coverage.
The Bottom Line
Shop around for your best premium rate, but remember to also evaluate your provider’s coverage options, discounts, and claims process. Also, buy the most insurance you can afford — not just what your state’s minimum liability coverage requires.
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Compare rates from the motorcycle insurance companies in your area
Shop for quotes. Check out our table above for proof. Different companies charge drastically different amounts for coverage. Dig into discounts, too, and see if taking a safety course could shave dollars off what you’re spending each month.
Compare rates at different liability levels. Remember that getting a higher liability level doesn’t just offer you a lot more protection — which you’ll probably need if you get in a real crash. It also often means you can raise your UM/UIM coverage to that same level.
Assess your needs for special coverage. Think about factors such as how often you ride with a passenger, and what your health insurance will cover (for example, if you have a huge deductible on your health insurance policy, getting medical payments coverage on your motorcycle insurance policy may bridge that gap). Your financial situation is unique, so pick and choose the coverage options that are best for you.
More Motorcycle Insurance Reviews
We’ve been looking into motorcycle insurance for a few years now, and you can check out some of our other reviews. They aren’t consistent with our latest round of research (yet!) so be on the lookout for updates in the upcoming weeks: