There's a huge difference between riding a motorcycle and driving a car, so it shouldn't be too surprising the way they are insured is different, too. If you're getting on a bike for the first time (or the first time in a long time), here are some key differences you need to know about.

Motorcycle insurance is more expensive
Even though your motorcycle may cost much less than a car, dollar for dollar, motorcycle insurance is generally more expensive than car insurance. This is simply because you're at a higher risk of an accident while riding your motorcycle than driving your car. In fact, per mile traveled, someone on a motorcycle is almost five times more likely to be injured and 27 times more likely to die in an accident compared to someone driving a car. Someone with a good driving record on an inexpensive bike may only have to pay a few hundred dollars each year, but an inexperienced rider or someone with an accident history on a new sports bike may be paying $3,000 (per year) or more.

Motorcycle insurance is not always mandatory
In most states you do need insurance, or a financial alternative, to ride a motorcycle. In Montana and Washington, however, there are no insurance requirements for motorcycles at all. In Florida, motorcycle insurance isn't mandatory if you have a clean driving record. Anyone at fault for an accident is required to have motorcycle insurance for up to three years. If you don't have a policy for at least $10,000, Florida requires you to wear a helmet.

Personal injuries may not be covered
If you live in a no-fault state, personal injuries you might suffer in an accident may not be covered by your motorcycle insurance policy unless you get enhanced coverage. In Massachusetts, for example, its no-fault law means that a driver's car insurance covers his or her damages and injuries, no matter who caused the crash. Motorcycles are exempt from this law, so a standard policy does not cover injuries for you or your passenger if you're responsible for the accident. If the other driver is at fault you may be able to get compensation, but this can often take a very long time.

Additionally, if you are in an accident and have a passenger on your bike, the passenger may be able to sue you for any injuries he or she may have suffered in the accident. To protect yourself from this you can usually get optional guest passenger liability insurance to cover your passenger in the event of an accident.

You can get seasonal coverage
Getting seasonal coverage for a car can be difficult; however, if you live in a northern state and don't ride your motorcycle in the winter, you can usually get what is called a lay-up policy. Most of your insurance is suspended during the winter months when you're not using the motorcycle. Comprehensive coverage is maintained to protect the vehicle in case of damage, other than fire, theft or vandalism. If you are storing your bike in your garage, you may want to make sure it's covered for theft and fire by your homeowner's insurance, or get additional coverage.


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