What motorcycle insurance options do I have?
The legal requirements for basic motorcycle insurance coverage vary depending on the province or territory in which you live. Generally, though, a standard policy may consist of the following types of coverage:
- Third-party liability. Covers damage to other people or property.
- Accident benefits. Covers your personal expenses (medical bills, medical equipment, lost income etc.) if you’re injured in a motor accident regardless of who’s at fault.
- Uninsured automobile coverage. Provides coverage if you’re killed or injured by another motorist; includes hit-and-run situations.
- Direct compensation property damage (DCPD). Covers damage to your motorcycle from accidents for which you aren’t at fault or are only partially at fault.
You may choose to add additional coverage based on what you think you’ll need. Such add-ons could include:
- Comprehensive coverage, which covers damage due to events that fall outside the bounds of a standard policy such as fire, theft, vandalism and hail.
- Extra medical insurance
- Coverage for damage caused from parking your bike during bad weather
- Roadside assistance
How much motorcycle insurance coverage do I need?
Motorcycle insurance is required everywhere in Canada, though each province and territory has different motorcycle insurance laws based on engine sizes and other factors.
To build your policy, start with the minimum liability coverage required where you live. For example, in Ontario, BC and New Brunswick, motorcyclists are requires to have a minimum of $200,000 third-party liability coverage. However, riders in Ontario are advised to get a policy worth $1 million or more instead. It’s a good idea to increase your maximums to cover at least the full cost of replacing your bike.
Note that, if your vehicle has an engine smaller than 50cc or top speeds under 50 km/h (around 30 mph), it’s likely classified as a moped or scooter and may have different insurance requirements.
How much does motorcycle insurance cost?
The average cost of motorcycle insurance across Canada is just over $700 per year, but this can vary widely depending on a range of factors including where you live.
Vehicle insurance in Ontario tends to be more expensive, because of the number of accidents that occur there given the high population of residents. For example, a young rider in Ontario could end up paying over $2,000/year, while a rider over 40 years old could pay around $1,200/year.
Another important factor determining the amount of your premium is the type of motorcycle you ride. Models that typically cost more to insure have engine sizes above 500cc like the Yamaha YZF-R6 (600 CC), Kawasaki Ninja ZX600 (599 CC) and Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. In Ontario, it could cost upwards of $2,000-$3,000 per year to insure these bikes. Premiums may lower for bikes with smaller engine sizes like the Honda Rebel 300, Yamaha YZF-R3 and the Honda Grom, which may cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per year to insure in Ontario.
Insurers don’t necessarily follow the same formulas for determining the cost of premiums. To find out how much motorcycle insurance will cost you, you’ll need to get quotes from multiple providers.
What should I look for in a motorcycle insurance policy?
Consider the cost of a policy and the coverage offered, as well as the various extras and options available. Some of the extras you may find include:
- Helmet and riding gear coverage. Your riding leathers, helmet and other gear can be expensive. Some policies cover the theft or damage of helmets and riding gear.
- Personal effects coverage. Often found separate to riding gear cover, you may discover policies that allow you to insure personal effects carried on or in the bike.
- Agreed or market value. If the market value isn’t a fair reflection of your bike’s real worth, for example, if you need insurance for a modified motorcycle, you might want to look for a policy that offers agreed value as an option, rather than just insuring it at market value.
- Flexible deductible. It may be worth looking for an insurer that lets you tailor your costs by determining the size of your deductible.
- Windscreen damage. You may be able to find an option for zero deductible windscreen and broken glass coverage.
- Temporary replacement vehicle. If you need your bike to get around, it might be worth looking for a policy that provides a rental vehicle following a theft.
- Keys and locks. Cover the cost of re-keying or re-coding locks if someone steals your keys.
- New replacement. If a relatively new motorcycle is written off following an insured event, you might get a brand new equivalent replacement. Usually, a time limit, often 2 years, applies to this coverage type.
- Protected no claims bonus. Policies that offer no claims discounts may also provide an extra-cost option that lets you make at-fault claims without losing your discount.
- Tools and trailer cover. If you use your bike to tow a trailer or use it to transport trade tools, then coverage for these can often be found as a separate option.
Motorcycle insurance for new and inexperienced riders
As a young or inexperienced driver, it’s an unfortunate reality that you have to pay a higher price for your premium. However, there are ways to help reduce it. Choose a bike with a less powerful engine, as ones with a larger and more powerful engine are more expensive to insure.
If you keep your bike in a garage and have proper security measures in place, the insurance provider may reduce your premium because it reduces the likelihood of your bike sustaining damage. If you can, try to avoid accidents to build up a no-claims history.
How are motorcycle insurance premiums calculated?
Different insurers may use various factors when determining the amount of your premium. The following points will likely be considered:
The type, make and model of your motorcycle
Some insurers may not cover all types of bikes (standard, cruiser, touring, sport, sport touring, dual sport etc.). If your bike is expensive and/or high powered, expect it to cost more to insure than a cheaper, less powerful model.
How much you ride
The fewer kilometres you ride, the less chance you have of getting into an accident, which may lower your premiums.
Who will be riding
If you’re an experienced rider with an unblemished claims history and will be the only person riding the bike, your premiums should stay reasonable. However, if you also want coverage for a 22-year-old rider with a speeding conviction and several previous insurance claims, expect your premium to skyrocket.
Your driving record and claims history
The longer you have a policy without making a claim, the higher the no claims discount you receive from your motorcycle insurance provider. But if you have a long string of speeding and traffic offences, insurers see you as risky to insure, which will raise your premium.
Riders under the age of 25 cost more to insure than older drivers. If you’re over 25, you may wish to consider whether it’s worth adding an under 25 rider to your motorcycle insurance policy. Specifying that no one under 25 will ride your bike might save you a lot of money.
Where you live
If you live in a high-crime area, the likelihood of your bike being stolen is high as well, thus increasing the cost of motorcycle insurance. Insurers may also take into account whether you keep your bike in a garage when not in use.
Vehicle modifications (including security installments)
Bikes with alarm systems or immobilizers (electronic devices that prevent the engine from working unless the correct key is used) are less likely to be stolen, meaning such bikes are less risky to insure. However, if your bike undergoes performance enhancements to make it faster or more powerful, your premium may increase.
Where you keep your bike
Keeping your bike in a secure, locked garage (or car hold) when you’re not riding it will lower your premium. If your bike is left parked on the street, you can expect to pay more for your insurance.
Your level of coverage
If you need coverage for more risk, with a comprehensive policy, your premium will be higher.
More powerful engines typically come with a higher premium because accidents at higher speeds often cause more damage. Riders may be more likely to lose control of powerful motorcycles, and these motorbikes might statistically be more likely to be ridden in an unsafe way.
How much you ride
The fewer kilometres you ride, the less chance you have of getting into an accident, which may lower your premiums.
How do I lower my insurance premium?If you can adjust the factors that affect your premium, you may be able to pay less. Consider the following points:
- Willing to pay more upfront when there’s an accident? Increasing your deductible will likely lower your premiums, because you’re agreeing to shoulder more of the costs associated with accidents yourself.
- Keep your motorcycle in a different place overnight? You can often receive a lower premium if you keep it in a secure garage rather than out in the open.
- Re-assess the value of your bike? For example, if you insure a brand new motorcycle at the agreed value, then it might be over-insured 2 years later, and you might be paying too much for cover.
- Pay the premium annually? Many insurers charge less overall for a premium paid annually rather than monthly.
- Get discounts? You may be entitled to a range of discounts including loyalty bonuses, no claims bonuses, discounts for signing up online, multi-policy discounts etc. Consider bundling your motorcycle insurance with other types of insurance offered by the same insurer to land a discount.
- Adjust your coverage? You might be paying extra for policy options about which you don’t feel strongly.
What is a motorcycle insurance deductible?
The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before you’re eligible for coverage. Essentially, you pay a small portion of the amount of your claim, and the insurance company covers the rest. A deductible applies to every claim you submit – it’s not simply a one-time fee.
Deductibles can vary but often start between $500 and $1,000. The exact amount often depends on the type of claim, your insurer and the specific policy you purchased. It’s possible to find policies that come with $0 deductibles, but you may find these policies come with higher premiums or stricter qualification requirements.
What size deductible should I choose?
The right amount depends on your individual circumstances and the terms of your policy. It can be worth it to choose a higher deductible to reduce your premium, especially if you’re a safe rider or only plan to make a claim in the event of a total loss.
However, this might not be worth it if you end up only needing to make small claims for expenses that costs less than your deductible. Finally, consider how much you can afford to pay upfront if there’s an accident.
Vintage and classic motorcycle insurance
Insurance for classic and vintage motorcycles are valued differently than current models, because of sentimental value, historical significance and rarity. You’ll likely find that insurance coverage for such bikes are contingent on certain practices being followed such as riding only during certain seasons or keeping the bike protected in storage when not riding.
For example, you might look for a specialist vintage motorcycle policy that:
- Will insure the bike while it’s being carried on a trailer.
- Is tailored to your frequency of use, with laid-up or limited use cover. This type of policy may cut costs, by recognizing that your vintage motorcycle is only for occasional riding.
- Grants salvage rights in the event of a write-off, so you can restore it at your own pace.
- Offers you the option to choose a repairer.
- Covers the cost of air freight for spare parts.
- Insures classic or vintage bikes that are used at rallies, displays or other special events.
While the premium may increase thanks to a relatively high agreed-upon value (compared to many standard motorcycles), vintage motorcycle insurance premiums can be kept reasonable if you go with an insurer that specializes in covering classic bikes. Such insurers may also understand that vintage bikes usually aren’t driven very often and are thus less likely to be involved in accidents.
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