Motorcycle Insurance vs. Car Insurance: What’s The Difference?

While they might seem similar, motorcycle and car insurance have some key differences — so we wrote an article to help you navigate coverage.

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Motorcycle Insurance vs. Car Insurance: What’s The Difference?Motorcycle Insurance vs. Car Insurance: What’s The Difference?

We’ve received a lot of questions about whether car insurance can cover motorcycles — though most of you don’t seem to question whether motorcycle insurance can cover cars! But either way, we understand the confusion. Since car insurance is often called vehicle insurance, and a motorcycle is a vehicle…well, it starts to feel a bit like that elementary school adage: a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square.

In reality, though, when it comes to the case of cars vs. motorcycles, neither is a square nor a rectangle. If you have a car, you need car insurance, and if you have a motorcycle, then you need a motorcycle policy. It’s as simple as that.

But there are some differences that are helpful to understand, so we’ll break down what goes into each type of policy, and how to decide what coverage is right for you.

What is Car Insurance?

In case you need a refresher, car insurance policies offer liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Within that, however, there are different options like:

  • Towing coverage
  • Roadside assistance coverage
  • Rental reimbursement
  • Mechanical breakdown coverage

And while it’s possible to get those same added coverage options for your motorcycle, it’s not guaranteed (or it might be more expensive than it’s worth). 

What is Motorcycle Insurance? 

Motorcycle insurance is to motorcycles as car insurance is to cars. In fact, a lot of the terminology is the same. Generally, the average motorcycle policy includes the following:

  • Comprehensive coverage, which protects against any non-collision-related damages such as theft, fire, weather-related issues, and vandalism. 
  • Collision coverage, which protects against all the collision-related damages. There are different levels of collision coverage, but a policy should cover damages to both your motorcycle and person. 
  • Liability coverage, which many states require, covers payments for damages to other drivers or individuals in the case of any accident you cause. 

And just like car insurance, motorcycle insurance is customizable, which makes sense. A Hell’s Angel probably needs more protection than an infrequent joyrider. If your motorcycle is your primary means of transportation, you’ll also need more insurance than someone who only takes their bike out once a month.

Remember that motorcycle insurance is legally mandatory in 47 states. If you happen to live in one of the other three (we see you, Florida, Montana, and Washington) we would still recommend it. Better safe than sorry, as they say! 

Motorcycle Insurance vs. Car Insurance: Key Differences

Some car insurance providers give you the option of adding motorcycle coverage to your existing auto policy, while some prefer separate policies for the different vehicle types. You’ll want to inquire with your insurance agent to find out.

And while these policy types can seem similar on their face, there are some important distinctions to be aware of as you consider how to insure your motorcycle.

Premium Costs

Generally (and perhaps surprisingly), most standard motorcycle and car policies cost around the same, give or take a few bucks. That said, your premiums can vary greatly depending on a host of different factors, including:

  • Type of motorcycle: A sport bike may cost more to insure than a casual weekend rider. And a high-end motorcycle will cost you even more. 
  • Motorcycle activity: How often do you ride? Are you a stunt driver or just a casual rider?
  • Driving history: Previous incidents on your driving record may increase your premium costs for both cars and motorcycles. 
  • Level of coverage: For both auto and motorcycle insurance, full coverage will be much more expensive than liability-only coverage. 

Liability and Risk

So, here’s the deal. You can be the world's safest driver and you still get slapped with a high premium. The same is true with motorcycles, but with one key difference: motorcycles are inherently riskier than cars. 

That’s because of the higher rate of injuries and fatalities, which means that motorcycle accidents have an 80% injury or death rate compared to 20% with car accidents. So even if you’re super safe and take all the precautions, you may still be hit with high premiums as a reflection of these broader stats. 

Additional Coverage

Because cars and motorcycles are two different beasts, there are also coverage options that only apply to the latter which you may want to consider:

  • Passenger coverage: Some states require coverage for guest riders, but regardless, you should look into passenger safety, even if you live somewhere that is exempt.
  • Custom parts: Part of the fun of motorcycles is customizing your bike — but the more you jazz up, the more insurance you may need. 
  • Sidecars: Some insurance companies treat sidecars as a completely different class of vehicle, so you’ll want to investigate whether yours needs its own policy. 
  • Track drives: Track days are a ton of fun, but they also can require special coverage.
  • Commercial use: When a car is used for a driving service like Uber, it’s typically covered by Uber’s own insurance policy. If you use your motorbike for commercial purposes like food delivery, you’ll need to ensure that the company employing you offers coverage — otherwise, you’ll want to find your own policy.

Not all insurance companies offer all additions, which is why you should speak to your agent about your circumstances and needs. 

Explore Your Options With Marble

Navigating motorcycle and car insurance can be complicated. That’s why there’s Marble, which makes shopping for insurance a breeze. You can shop for policies, compare quotes, and store all your information in one easy-to-use digital wallet. Now that’s a snap! Sign up today!