What is Classic Motorcycle Insurance?

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Insuring a vintage, antique or classic motorcycle is essentially no different than purchasing a policy for any other bike. The coverages for all motorcycle insurance policies are generally the same. The only significant difference might be the cost to insure a classic two-wheeler -- antique motorcycles might be highly valuable and be expensive to replace or repair. 

What Insurance Do I Need For A Vintage Motorcycle?

If you plan on riding your vintage (or classic) motorcycle on public highways or roads, you are subject to the same local laws and motorcycle insurance requirements in your state. The majority of states in the U.S. require bike owners to show proof of motorcycle insurance coverage (bodily injury and personal property liability) in order to register their vehicle. It doesn’t matter whether you commute to and from work on a classic motorcycle or only once per year to a showcase. 

Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage pays for expenses related to injuries or damages a rider might cause to others, or their property, while riding. For example, if a rider hit a pedestrian, their bodily injury protection would cover the cost of the pedestrian's injuries, up to the limit of the rider's policy. A popular optional motorcycle insurance coverage is for medical payments. Medical payments coverage pays for medical-related expenses of any party involved in a motorcycle crash, whether it's the rider, a passenger or other party.

Even antique motorcycle owners who don’t take their bikes on the road should still think about insuring them. There are many potential scenarios when motorcycle insurance could prove beneficial. Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian and BMW motorcycles alike are susceptible to being stolen or damaged during transport. Owners might also be found liable for anyone who rides their vintage motorcycle, whether they had permission to or not.

Insurance requirements in each state and in other countries for mopeds and scooters might be different than that of motorcycles. Anyone shopping for insurance for the low-powered, two-wheeled vehicles needs to research local laws specifc to them. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a category of vehicle all their own. Just like dirt bikes, it is illegal to ride them on public roads and they typically do not require insurance, although it is highly recommended owners purchase a policy to cover them.

How Much Is Classic Motorcycle Insurance?

Generally, the cost to insure a classic motorcycle and the average cost of a new bike in the U.S. are similar. While the cost to insure classic motorcycles can widely vary, older bikes tend to be less powerful and not as fast, making them less expensive to insure. But older bikes might also be harder to replace and more expensive to repair. Those factors tend to balance each other, resulting in similar insurance costs for new and old motorcycles.

1960 BMW R69 $99 $236 $135
1953 Indian Chief $301 $216 $135
1970 Ducati 750 GT $99 $216 $135
1970 Norton Commando $99 $216 $135

The table above shows quotes to insure different classic motorcycles. We gathered quotes for a 45-year-old male rider in Ohio and a policy that included bodily injury protection ($50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident) and personal property damage coverage ($25,000), as well as a $500 deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverages. Although Progressive and Hagerty quoted all four classic motorcyles the same annual premium, that certainly might be representative of all riders, policies or antique motorcycles. 

Even though the vintage bikes we gathered qoutes for were made from various manufacturers and decades, some insurers quoted the same price for each one. Insurance companies likely price the majority of vintage motorcycles the same way, with some exceptions. Remember, age doesn't increase the value of every motorcycle (just like age doesn't increase the value of every car). In fact, the opposite is the case -- most vehicles depreciate as they age. This is another reason many vintage motorcycles might be priced similarly to new ones. They are likely worth less than a new motorcycle, but might cost much more to repair.

In terms of a classic motorcycle itself, there are also a long list of things considered when pricing a policy. Beyond the make, model, year and engine of the motorcycle, insurers assess its market value and costs associated with repairing or replacing it. For example, a bike valued at $10,000 might require a policy with a higher limit to account for the costs of locating or transporting a new one, or parts for one. Other factors such as the age and location of the owner, where a motorcycle is parked, how frequently it is ridden, and whether or not it has an anti-theft device are all considered when pricing a policy.

Gathering Classic Motorcycle Insurance Quotes

No matter what type of motorcycle someone needs to insure, they should start by gathering quotes online from multiple carriers. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get a feel for what it will cost. 

Unlike with automobiles, the majority of large insurance carriers will quote policies for classic motorcycles online. They are able to do this two ways. They either offer a quote for a vintage motorcycle based on their own internal valuations for specific bikes, or ask potential policyholders to declare an “agreed” value. Once a value is declared by the owner, an insurer determines if that amount is reasonable (within an acceptable value range based on make, model and year) and covers the motorcycle for that amount.

An agreed value for a classic motorcycle can be a good or a bad thing. It’s nice for consumers because it allows them to gather quotes for their antique motorcycle online -- without the agreed value declared by the owner, insurers wouldn’t be able to give as accurate a quote. On the other hand, insurance companies that accept agreed values assume a vintage motorcycle owner knows the true value of their motorcycle. It’s possible an owner might over or undervalue their classic motorcycle and, consequently, over or underinsured. 

To avoid this this mistake on their part and the insurance company’s, classic motorcycle owners should have their bike professionally appraised. Hagerty Insurance has an online appraisal tool that could be useful to cross-check another appraisal. The tool enables antique bike owners to search by make, model, year and VIN number.

Insurance companies, such as Progressive, typically pay the agreed value of a classic motorcycle in a total loss. However, if an owner decides they want to keep their bike, the insurance company will pay out the agreed amount, minus the salvage value of the motorcycle.

Classic Motorcycles You Might Not Find Online Quotes For

Although owners will find they can get an online quote for many classic and vintage motorcycles, there are exceptions. Just like rare or classic cars, classic motorcycles that are limited editions, or considered exceptionally valuable for any reason, might require a specialty policy to insure them. In those cases, the motorcycle owner needs to call a motorcycle insurance company and speak to an agent on the telephone. 

Getting a quote from an agent in person or over the phone is not unlike getting a quote online. The agent will require the same information from you as a rider in addition to information about the bike you're seeking to insure. It's possible that a limited edition or other rare motorcycle of an extremely high value will require proof of a third-party appraisal or documentation before a company will insure it.

Does Insurance Cover A Classic Motorcycle Jacket And Helmet?

Yes, most classic motorcycle insurance coverage will pay to replace safety gear and accessories if it is stolen or damaged in a crash. However, like bodily injury and property damage protection, coverage for accessories usually has a claim limit -- the maximum dollar amount the insurer with pay toward replacements. Motorcyclists tend to have a lot of gear and the value of standard equipment can be quite high. If an owner has a classic motorcycle jacket or helmet that is exceptionally valuable, they should consider increasing the claim limit for this category. A typicaly claim limit is $2,000 but a single motorcyle jacket could cost that much. 

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