How We Chose the Best Motorcycle Insurance

Nationwide availability

We started with 32 nationwide companies that offer coverage in every (or almost every) state. We wanted to be sure that our top providers would be available to just about anyone. For the same reason, we nixed companies with special eligibility requirements. Take USAA, for example. While it's a top-rated insurer based on rankings from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, it only sells policies to members of the armed forces and their families. We wanted to make sure that, no matter who you are or where you live in the U.S., you could purchase a policy with any of our finalists.

Strong financial backing

We also set a high bar for financial strength. Every company on our list had to earn an “A” or higher from A.M. Best (an independent agency that specializes in insurance ratings) as well as either an “A” from Standard & Poor’s or an “Aa” from Moody’s. These three major agencies judge the financial stability of a provider by measuring current assets against ongoing obligations. Top scores from at least two of them mean that your motorcycle insurance provider will remain solvent and able to pay out claims of any size.

Essential policy options

In most states, you’re legal to ride with only bare-bones liability coverage, which could potentially cost as little at $75 per year. A few states — Washington, Florida, Montana and New Hampshire — don’t require any motorcycle insurance. However, the agents and lawyers we spoke with agree that state minimums don’t reflect the reality of costs associated with an accident. They recommend five essential coverage options (with relatively high limits) to make sure you’re truly covered in the event of an accident or theft:

Collision

Covers damage caused by a collision with another vehicle. Most common accidents qualify as collisions, so this is the coverage you’ll likely use most.

Comprehensive

Covers theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. This includes vandalism, natural disasters, and damage caused by animals.

Liability

The amount your provider will pay out to the injured party if you’re at-fault in an accident. Experts recommend getting as much as you can afford; but 100/ 300/ 50 is a good starting point. (That’s $100,000 per person injured, up to $300,000 per accident, plus $50,000 in property damage).

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

Covers your own repairs and medical bills if the person who hits you is un- or underinsured. Like liability, we suggest getting the highest limits you can — but at least 100/ 300 is highly recommended ($100,000 per person, or up to $300,000 total per accident).

Medpay or PIP

Medical payments and personal injury protection work a little differently (you can read more about that down below in our motorcycle insurance buying guide). In short, they both help to cover your medical costs if you’re injured while riding. The accident lawyers we spoke to recommend a minimum of $10,000 in medical coverage.

Customizable coverage

The five types of coverage listed above are the most crucial for protecting life, limb and damages. Chances are, though, there are a few other things you’ll want insured. Most companies offer a variety of options that let you tailor your policy to your specific needs. Our top picks have some of the best selections on the market; from specialty, custom, and vintage bike insurance to coverage for towing, replacement parts, safety apparel, and more. Read on to find out what makes each provider unique — or, check out our FAQ for a complete list of coverage options offered by our finalists.

The 4 Best Motorcycle Insurance Companies

  • Markel American — Best Range of Coverage
  • Progressive — Best for Specialty or Vintage Bikes
  • Nationwide — Best for High Coverage Limits
  • Safeco — Impressive Discounts

Markel American — Best Range of Coverage

Pros Widest range of coverage
Mechanical breakdown coverage
Rental reimbursement
Cheapest premiums in our price comparison
Cons Fewer discounts
Limited customer tools

Why we chose it

Widest range of coverage

Markel claims to specialize in motorcycle insurance, and that dedication truly shows through in its policy options. It touches all the important bases, of course; including liability, un/underinsured motorist, collision, comprehensive and medpay. Beyond that, it also has some standout selections that really cater to the everyday rider. Most notably, mechanical breakdown coverage and rental reimbursement could be a huge help frequent riders and aren’t offered by any of our other top picks. If your bike is your main (or only) form of transportation, Markel is likely your best bet for comprehensive, reliable insurance.

Mechanical breakdown coverage

Markel is the only provider we’ve seen that offers mechanical breakdown coverage, a useful addition that can help replace or repair the electronic components on your bike. Adding this protection will cost you a small additional fee, of course. However, it may reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by a large proportion should part of your bike break down or give out from normal wear and tear.

Rental reimbursement

Markel is also our only finalist that will cover the cost of a rental car while your bike is under repairs. This is especially important for people who use their motorcycle as a means of daily transportation. Should your bike be in the shop for an extended period of time, those rental costs can take a heavy toll on your wallet. If you don’t have a second vehicle, Markel’s rental coverage will be a big help until you get your motorcycle back.

Cheapest premiums in our price comparison

When we reviewed the best cheap motorcycle insurance, we did an apples-to-apples quote comparison for a variety of profiles; an older driver versus a younger one, a sportbike versus a cruiser, a clean driving record versus one with a few infractions. Markel came back with some of the cheapest premiums in almost every scenario.

Even so, any discussion of price should be taken with a grain of salt. Premiums depend on you, your bike and your driving record. Cost also varies by company — you’ll have to request multiple quotes to find your best price. That said, Markel is a safe bet for affordable motorcycle insurance.

Points to consider

Fewer discounts

Markel has a shorter list of discounts than some of our other top picks, compared to Safeco's seven and Progressive’s 10. Most notably, it won’t lower your premium for belonging to a motorcycle association, being a homeowner, or paying your premium in full at the start of your policy; options that most other companies provide.

Even without those discounts, our Markel quotes were relatively cheaper than the competition. But if yours looks a little high, you may have more luck with one of our top picks that offers greater discount opportunities.

Limited customer tools

As a smaller company, Markel lacks some of the convenient tools you’d find with a bigger provider like Progressive or Nationwide. For instance, it doesn’t offer an app for easy, real-time claim filing. You’ll have to call an agent directly or go through Markel’s website — which is much less streamlined and user-friendly than the sites of our other top picks.

Progressive — Best for Specialty or Vintage Bikes

Pros Specialty motorcycle coverage
Actual agreed value insurance
Plenty of discounts
Good customer resources
Cons Lacks breakdown coverage
Coverage upgrades are pricey

Why we chose it

Specialty motorcycle coverage

Progressive falls just short of Markel for coverage volume, offering 18 total options to Markel’s 19. But where Markel does an excellent job covering daily riders, Progressive really stands out for its specialty motorcycle coverage. Bikers with vintage, antique, or custom bikes will find a lot to love with this company.

For example, you might elect to add OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts coverage to your policy. This guarantees that any part replaced on the bike will come from its original maker — so your Harley stays a Harley, or your Suzuki a Suzuki.

Progressive policies also come with generous custom parts and accessories coverage: up to $3,000 included when you purchase comprehensive and collision. Most companies start at $1,000 included and will charge you extra to up that limit.

Actual agreed value insurance

Progressive is one of the only providers we’ve seen that insures bikes for their “actual agreed value” — meaning that your bike is covered at an agreed-upon future price, rather than what it’s worth today. This is critical for vintage or antique bikes that grow more valuable over time. It help ensures that, in the event of an accident or theft, you’re reimbursed for what your bike would truly cost to repair or replace.

Plenty of discounts

In addition to its robust coverage, Progressive offers a long list of discounts for qualified riders. The company will discount your premium for belonging to a motorcycle association, maintaining a safe driving record, bundling multiple kinds of insurance and more. It also gives price cuts for homeowners (Markel doesn’t) and buyers who switch over from another company (unlike Safeco and Nationwide). Such a long list means that just about anyone will be able to save some money on their Progressive policy.

Good customer resources

As one of the largest auto insurance companies in the US, Progressive has the means to provide excellent resources for its customers. Among these are a 24/7 support center, a slick, informative website and a helpful knowledgebase that navigates some of the subtler insurance questions (What actually impacts your premium? Does “full coverage” exist? What if someone hits my parked vehicle?). To top it off, Progressive has a comprehensive mobile app that allows customers to easily view coverage and file claims. Smaller companies like Markel don’t offer the same level of convenience.

Points to consider

Lacks breakdown coverage

Progressive lacks a few coverage options that could be useful in the event of an accident or breakdown. For example, it doesn’t cover towing or rental reimbursement — meaning if you get in an accident, the cost to move your bike and rent alternate transportation will come out of pocket. It also doesn’t offer mechanical breakdown coverage, which would otherwise foot some of the bill to repair your bike’s electronics.

These omissions could mean extra time, money, and hassle before you get back on the road. If you ride every day and need a quicker, more affordable turnaround on repairs, start with a company like Markel that insures these things.

Coverage upgrades are pricey

Progressive claims to insure motorcycles starting at a stunningly low $75 per year, but don’t expect to pay so little. That $75 quote is (of course) dependent on the underwriting process, and it represents the bare minimum liability insurance you could possibly purchase. To truly be protected, you’ll need to round out your policy with higher liability limits, un/underinsured motorist coverage, medpay, etc. — and your Progressive quote will likely shoot upward as you begin adding these extra protections.

When we requested quotes, Progressive started out as the cheapest provider but quickly became the most expensive as we adjusted coverage to the recommended amounts. That’s not to say Progressive will always be the most expensive; remember, quotes are personal. Still, it’s worth comparing your Progressive quote with estimates from a couple other providers to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need at the right price.

Nationwide — Best for High Coverage Limits

Pros Affordable coverage upgrades
Tolerant of "high-risk" riders
Built-in accessory coverage
Big-company convenience
Cons No agreed value coverage
Fewer discounts

Why we chose it

Affordable coverage upgrades

In our head-to-head quote comparison, Nationwide stood out for making it affordable to bump up your coverage. That means you could potentially upgrade from a medium-sized policy to a maximum one (say, $500,000 liability and un/underinsured motorist limits) for just a few dollars per month. By comparison, Progressive’s price skyrocketed to nearly double when we went for its highest limits. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; quotes are always dependent on your personal details. Even so, Nationwide is likely to be a good choice if you’re looking for a large policy with a reasonable price tag.

Tolerant of "high-risk" riders

Nationwide also tends to be friendlier towards "high-risk" bikers than our other top picks. It offered the lowest premiums for our sample profiles that included younger bikers (20 years old, as opposed to 35 or 50) and pricier, faster bikes (we looked at a Suzuki sportbike against lower-priced Harleys and Hondas). According to the insurance experts we spoke to, these are typically the most expensive categories to insure. If you fall into that "high-risk" sector, we recommend starting your search with Nationwide.

Built-in accessory coverage

Nationwide has the best built-in accessory coverage of any of our top picks. Every policy comes with $2,000 insurance for your personal belongings; from safety equipment to luggage. By comparison, most providers only cover around $1,000 worth of optional equipment. If you’ve invested a lot in motorcycle accessories or travel with valuables often (say, commuting to work with a laptop), then this extra padding is an important safeguard.

Big-company convenience

Like Progressive, Nationwide comes with all the convenience that a major company can offer. Its website is educational and easy to navigate; it offers both online and app-powered claim filing; and support is available 24/7 if you prefer to report an accident or file a claim over the phone. These little things can help smooth the process (and reduce your headache) should you end up needing to access you insurance.

Points to consider

No agreed value coverage

Nationwide does not offer actual agreed value coverage — one of the options that we love from both Markel and Progressive. This add-on lets you insure your vintage or antique motorcycle at an agreed-upon price, ensuring that coverage keeps pace with its appreciating value. If your bike is only growing pricier over time, we recommend choosing an insurer that makes this option available.

Fewer discounts

Nationwide has a shorter list of discounts than either Safeco or Progressive. For one, it’s our only top pick that doesn’t expressly offer a discount for maintaining a ‘no at-fault accidents’ driving record. Nationwide won’t lower your premium for being a ‘mature rider,’ renewing your policy, or transferring over from another company, either. That said, our Nationwide quotes often came back cheaper than Progressive’s, even with the difference in discounts. Your own premium will depend on your bike, riding habits and the level of coverage you choose — so make sure to compare quotes to see if Nationwide is right for you.

Safeco — Impressive Discounts

Pros Long list of discounts
Generous roadside assistance
Comprehensive coverage
Cons Not ideal for specialty bikes
No online quote tool

Why we chose it

Long list of discounts

Safeco gives customers ample discount opportunities, meaning most everyone will be able to save on their policy. Only Progressive matches this company for number of discounts offered, but Safeco has one option we love over Progressive: a mature rider discount. In fact, Safeco is the only one of our top picks that has a reduced price specifically for bikers “with multiple years of riding experience.” If you’ve been riding for a long time, we definitely recommend starting your search with a quote from Safeco.

Generous roadside assistance

All of our top picks offer roadside assistance as an add-on for their motorcycle policies; only Safeco sells it as a bundle. When you purchase roadside assistance from this company, it also comes with trip interruption and towing coverage automatically built-in. That means you’ll be fully taken care of in the event of an accident or breakdown.

Comprehensive coverage

Along with the five core coverages we looked for, Safeco has some great add-ons in motorcycle-specific areas. We’re impressed that the company includes OEM (original equipment manufacturer) coverage with all its policies. This ensures that, should you need a part replaced, you’ll be covered for the cost of authentic manufacturer parts, thus maintaining the integrity of your bike. Safeco policies also come with $1,000 coverage for safety apparel at no additional cost, making sure you stay protected as well as your bike.

Points to consider

Not ideal for specialty bikes

Safeco has a slightly shorter coverage list than Progressive and Markel. The one place where you can really feel the difference is its specialty motorcycle coverage (or lack thereof). Like Nationwide, Safeco doesn’t offer actual agreed value coverage — meaning it’s not the best choice for vintage or antique motorcycles that are only increasing in value over time.

No online quote tool

Safeco is our only finalist that won’t give you a motorcycle insurance quote online. To compare its prices with our other top picks, you’ll have to call the company and request a personalized quote from an agent. While that’s not a mark down on the Safeco’s actual policies, we do prefer providers that make comparison shopping a little more convenient. An online quote process makes it much easier to weigh your options before buying.

Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

How to build a strong motorcycle insurance policy

Buy as much liability insurance as you can afford

While the more liability insurance you add to your policy, the more expensive your premium, poor coverage can really hurt you in the long run. If you hit someone and are underinsured, there’s a chance they may sue you to cover their losses — which could end up costing you your home or other assets. Attorney Chris Johnston suggests starting with at least 100/300 ($100,000 per person injured, up to $300,000 total per accident). However, with the right policy, it costs as little as a few dollars per year to get the most liability coverage your provider offers. That’s a small price for a lot of peace of mind.

Compare quotes

Don’t settle for the first company you look at. Every provider has a unique underwriting process, meaning they’ll evaluate your "risk factors" (like age, bike model and driving history) a little differently, and come up with a personalized quote. You won’t know which one can offer you the best premium until you’ve looked at a few. That’s why we always recommend comparing quotes from multiple providers to find the coverage you need at the right price.

Add supplemental coverage

With the right policy, your motorcycle insurance will cover everything from repairs to your favorite leather jacket. It comes down to selecting the coverage you need and choosing a provider that offers it. To help you find the right fit, we combed through our top picks’ information and put together a list of all their coverage options.

= Covered by Markel
= Covered by Progressive
= Covered by Nationwide
= Covered by Safeco
  • Custom motorcycle / custom parts and equipment coverage: Covers repair and replacements for any parts on your bike that weren’t installed by the original manufacturer.
  • Roadside assistance: The provider will cover the cost of common roadside assistance services as a part of you insurance plan.
  • Trip interruption coverage: Covers up to a set amount for food, lodging, and alternate transportation if your bike breaks down mid-trip.
  • Guest passenger liability: Protection for any passengers on your motorcycle; includes bodily injury and property damages.
  • Accessory, safety gear, and optional equipment coverage: Covers the replacement of safety apparel and other optional accessories in the event that they’re damaged or ruined in an accident.
  • Total loss coverage: Pays for a new bike in the event that the cost to repair yours is greater than its total cash value.
  • Trike coverage: Insurance specific to repairing or replacing a 3-wheeled motorcycle.
  • Vintage/antique coverage: Insurance specific to older bikes.
  • Actual agreed value coverage: In the event of an accident or theft, you'll be reimbursed for what your bike would truly cost to repair or replace.
  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts coverage: Ensures that any parts repaired or replaced on your bike will be done so with components from the original manufacturer. In other words, if your Harley’s engine dies, it’ll be replaced with another Harley engine.
  • Transport trailer: Covers repairs and replacement of a trailer specifically designed for towing your motorcycle.
  • Rental reimbursement: The provider will cover a portion of rental costs in the event that your bike is inoperable for a period of time and you require alternate transportation.
  • Mechanical breakdown coverage: Covers repair and replacement of any mechanical components of your motorcycle, if they weren’t damaged in an accident.
  • Enhanced medical coverage: Pays out a stipend every week for up to 2 years in the event that you’re injured and unable to work after an accident.
  • Accident forgiveness: Accidents that cost the provider up to a certain amount will not affect the cost of your premium.
  • Towing: The provider will cover towing costs.

Don't forget about medical coverage

Our insurance experts highly recommend an insurance policy with medical coverage. Brian Dunmire, motorcycle accident attorney, recommends PIP or medpay in the amount of at least $10,000. He points out that “often times, these coverages can be added to your insurance policy for only a few dollars a month,” and they’ll be a huge help with medical bills.

The type of medical coverage offered with motorcycle insurance varies by state; typically you’re looking at personal injury protection (PIP) or medpay. PIP, or “no fault” insurance, is available in 24 states and required in 17 of them. It covers health insurance deductibles, medical copays, lost wages, and other costs — regardless of who is at fault in an accident. Medpay is similar to PIP but less comprehensive. It works with health insurance to cover deductibles and copays, but won’t supplement lost wages, child care, or funeral expenses, like PIP will.

Stack your motorcycle and auto insurance

Upping uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage tends to raise premiums significantly. Attorney Joshua Wagner recommends looking for an insurance policy that allows “stacking” for a more reasonable price. If you insure your car and motorcycle through the same company, and have 100/300 UM coverage on both, stacking gives you a $200,000 per person per accident on either vehicle.

Motorcycle Insurance FAQ

What’s the cheapest motorcycle insurance?

Premiums are incredibly personal; they depend on your age, the bike you ride, your driving record, and more. That means there isn’t one single “cheapest” or “best” motorcycle insurance provider for everyone. Still, some companies may be friendlier towards certain ‘risk factors’ than others (e.g. better prices for younger riders). To explore price comparisons and learn more about these trends, see our review of the best cheap motorcycle insurance.

What kind of insurance is required for a motorcycle?

In most states, motorcyclists need to meet minimum liability requirements. That means you have at least some level of insurance to cover another party’s losses in the event that you cause an accident. Take a look at DMV.org’s state-by-state minimums to find your state’s specific motorcycle insurance regulations.

Can I save money by canceling my motorcycle insurance for the season?

Our experts highly recommend maintaining coverage year-round, even if you live in a northern state and won’t be riding during the winter months. Keeping your policy active ensures that your bike is protected against theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. Plus, as Agency Principal John Espenschied points out, “You never know when you’ll have a nice sunny day and have the urge to go for a ride” — and if anything happens to your bike while your policy’s not active, you’re out of luck.

The Best Motorcycle Insurance: Summed Up

Markel American
Progressive
Nationwide
Safeco
The Best
Range of Coverage
For Specialty & Vintage Bikes
For High Coverage Limits
With Plenty of Discounts
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating
A
A+
A+
A
24/7 Claim Support
Online Claim Filing
Total Number of Coverage Options
19
18
16
16
Total Number of Discounts
7
9
8
9

More Motorcycle Insurance Reviews

We’ve been looking into motorcycle insurance for a few years now. For a deeper dive into premiums, check out our other review: