COVID-19 Update: If you're thinking about motorcycle insurance in the context of coronavirus, see below for information on how it affects California motorcycle riders.
After collecting thousands of motorcycle insurance quotes from all over the state of California, we've selected Geico as the best motorcycle insurance company for most people. Its prices were substantially lower than the statewide average of $1,340, and it has great customer service and discounts available.
Compare Motorcycle Insurance Quotes from Providers in California
We also have alternative picks for other special cases if Geico's not right for you.
The best motorcycle insurance companies in California
We looked at five of the most popular motorcycle insurance companies in California, considering cost, coverage options and customer service, among others. We have a main pick that will be a good fit for most motorcycle riders, plus extra options for people with more specialized insurance needs.
Best for most people: Geico
Based on our research, the best motorcycle insurance company for California riders is Geico. Geico offers affordable rates, great coverage options and well-regarded customer service to its riders.
Geico's average price statewide was $788 — 42% cheaper than the typical annual rate we found. And Geico has a positive complaint index of 0.92, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). This means the company has been the subject of fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size.
As one of the nation's largest insurers, Geico is also the best choice for bundling with other policy types. By insuring your car and motorcycle with the same company, you can typically reduce your bill for both, while simplifying your monthly bill payments in the process.
The biggest drawback to Geico is that it doesn't have as many niche coverage options, which may deter you if you have specialized coverage needs. While Geico does allow you to buy optional coverage for accessories and roadside assistance, there aren't options for things like OEM parts or trip interruption.
Best for motorcycle-only coverage: Markel
Markel insurance is our top pick for motorcycle owners who prioritize motorcycle-only coverage over bundling their insurance policies together — such as if they don't own a car. It offered the lowest overall motorcycle-only rate of $746 per year, which was 46% less than the statewide average.
Markel also has a great selection of optional motorcycle coverages, including coverage for accessories and mechanical breakdown. While these aren't mandatory for California motorcycle riding, they may give you extra peace of mind while riding.
Markel is a specialty insurer, meaning it doesn't offer typical auto or home insurance. So you'll need to buy a separate policy to protect your car if you own one, and you won't be able to take advantage of a bundle discount.
Best for touring: Esurance
Motorcycle riders who use their bikes for touring should consider Esurance. It offers a few coverages that should especially appeal to cross-country motorcycle riders, as well as affordable insurance rates.
For example, Esurance offers "trip interruption coverage." If you're in an accident or your bike breaks down far from home, Esurance will pay for $100 of lodging, $50 of alternate transport, and $50 for food per day until you're up and running again. Esurance also offers optional coverage for custom equipment like racks, bags and GPS equipment.
Esurance didn't offer the absolute best price for motorcycle insurance for our sample rider, but its average annual rate of $955 was still 30% less than the typical price statewide.
The best-reviewed California motorcycle insurers
When selecting a motorcycle insurance company, price is important, but so is the quality of service. When we evaluate an insurance company, two key ways we measure its level of service are the complaint index issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and the company's A.M Best financial stability rating (FSR).
The NAIC complaint index measures how many complaints a company has received relative to its total insurance premiums, with lower numbers indicating better performance. And the A.M. Best financial stability rating is an overall measure of how strong the company is from a financial perspective. A company with a better A.M. Best rating is more likely to pay out claims, even in widespread disasters and economic downturns.
A.M. Best rating
Markel did not receive any personal passenger vehicle insurance complaints in 2018. However, as a specialty insurer, it also has a very small market share, so its score of 0 may be an anomaly.
Note that the NAIC combines automobile and motorcycle insurance into a single industry category; as such, these complaint indices are based on each company's combined premium dollars for motorcycles and cars.
The cheapest motorcycle insurance companies in California
We collected hundreds of motorcycle insurance quotes to determine the most affordable option for California riders. We found that Markel offered the best rates for Californians, with an average price of $746 per year. Geico had the second best price, with an average annual cost of $788.
Motorcycle license requirements in California
To operate a typical motorcycle in California, you need to hold a Class M1 license, which also allows you to drive mopeds and motorized scooters. Note that a Class M2 license allows you to operate other two-wheeled vehicles but specifically excludes motorcycles. If your motorcycle has a sidecar or three wheels, you would need a Class C license instead.
In order to apply for and obtain a California motorcycle license, you’re required to:
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a written test
- Complete a California Highway Patrol motorcycle basic rider course (or a driving test if you're over 18)
- Obtain a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training
Motorcycle insurance requirements in California
Motorcycle insurance is required in California for all drivers. The state mandates the following levels of liability insurance coverage:
- $15,000 bodily injury liability coverage for injuries to one person in an accident
- $30,000 bodily injury liability coverage for total injuries in an accident
- $5,000 property damage liability coverage
Though other forms of insurance, such as medical payments and uninsured motorist coverage, aren’t required to drive a motorcycle in California, we recommend that you consider them when purchasing a policy.
We always recommend people buy insurance that matches their coverage needs, but given the inherent risk of riding a motorcycle, it's especially important to do so for motorcycle insurance. California's legal motorcycle insurance minimums only include liability coverage, which pays for damage you cause to others. Motorcycles are in crashes far more often than cars, and you are at a greater risk of injury and damage to your vehicle than a car would be in the same crash.
For example, when we were selecting a sample quote that we felt would be indicative of most people's coverage needs, we opted for $350,000 of total liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverage that pay for damage to the rider's motorcycle.
Coronavirus and motorcycle insurance in California
The coronavirus has had a major impact on travel and insurance in California, but it's not all bad news for motorcycle riders. Driving and riding have decreased significantly because of the coronavirus, and claims are too. As a result, many insurance companies are giving refunds on previously-purchased policies, or discounts the next time you renew.
For example, our top pick, Geico, is giving a 15% credit on policies up for renewal between April and October. Check with your insurer to see if they are offering a rebate or discount during this time.
Additionally, the California Department of Insurance has instructed insurers not to penalize customers for letting their licenses expire, as most DMVs are closed in the state. However, you can still renew your motorcycle license online or through the mail, if you wish.
Motorcycle insurance costs: city-by-city breakdown
To help California motorcycle riders understand the cost of insurance statewide, we calculated the citywide averages for 40 of the largest cities in California, to help understand how rates compare statewide.
% Difference from average
To do our statewide motorcycle insurance rate analysis, we collected hundreds of quotes for motorcycle riders across the state of California. Our sample rider profile was a 45-year-old man who owns a 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. Coverage limits include:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $50,000 per accident
- Collision coverage: Included/$500 deductible
- Comprehensive coverage: Included/$500 deductible
- All other coverages: Not included