Motorcycle that are over 20 years old and in near-original condition are generally considered classic bikes. Insuring a vintage, antique or classic motorcycle is similar to purchasing a policy for any other bike in terms of the types of coverage available. However, some antique motorcycles might be highly valuable and more expensive to replace or repair. Therefore, owners of vintage motorcycles should strongly consider insurance policies that include comprehensive and collision coverage, as these cover any damages to their classic bikes.
When is a Motorcycle a Classic?
Classic, vintage or antique motorcycles are generally at least 25 years old and look the way they were intended to when first manufactured or built. Depending on the insurer, classic bikes as young as 20 years old can be considered vintage motorcycles, but this isn't always the case. Classic motorcycles typically need to be stored in a garage and should not be your daily commuting vehicle, though they can be ridden semiregularly.
A custom motorcycle that has been largely rebuilt with fabricated parts might still qualify as a “classic,” but the modifications might also classify it as a custom motorcycle in the eyes of an insurance company. This could have major ramifications on insurance rates, because the cost and labor associated with repairs for a customized bike can be quite high.
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 of 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 vehicles. It doesn’t matter whether you take regular weekend rides on your classic motorcycle or only use it once per year, you'll need insurance to ride legally. This typically also applies if you have a smaller bike, such as a classic moped or scooter, as you'll generally need insurance to ride on public roads.
Bodily injury and property damage liability insurance pays for expenses related to injuries or damages you might cause to others, or their property, while riding. For example, if you hit a pedestrian, your liability insurance would cover the cost of the pedestrian's injuries, up to the limits of your policy. Motorcycle liability insurance is required in most states and is commonly included in most policies.
For a classic or collector motorcycle, comprehensive and collision insurance are two of the most essential forms of coverage, as they cover the costs of repairing or replacing your bike if it's damaged or stolen. Your policy can extend to cover both the motorcycle and a sidecar, if you have one, or you can also get a multibike policy if have multiple classic motorcycles. Another popular type of optional motorcycle insurance coverage is for medical payments. Medical payments coverage pays for your own medical bills if involved in a crash.
Even antique motorcycle owners who don’t take their bikes on the road should still think about comprehensive insurance. There are many potential scenarios when collectors’ motorcycle insurance could prove beneficial. Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian and BMW motorcycles alike are susceptible to being stolen or damaged during transport.
How Much Does Classic Motorcycle Insurance Cost?
While the cost to insure classic motorcycles can vary, older bikes tend to be less powerful and not as fast, making them less risky, so your liability insurance is likely to be cheaper than it would be for a new bike. But older bikes are generally harder to replace and more expensive to repair, increasing the cost of comprehensive and collision insurance.
In terms of a classic motorcycle itself, there is a long list of things considered when pricing a policy. The type of bike can significantly impact the cost of a policy, as you're likely to find cheaper rates insuring a classic Vespa, for instance, as opposed to a similarly aged chopper. Beyond the make, model, year and engine of the vintage motorcycle, insurers assess its market value and costs associated with repairing or replacing it. 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 vintage motorcycle insurance policy.
Comparison of Quotes from Classic Motorcycle Insurance Companies
|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 comparison above shows quotes to insure different classic motorcycles. We gathered quotes for a 45-year-old male rider in Ohio for 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 $500 deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverages. Hagerty quoted all four classic motorcycles the same annual premium, while GEICO and Progressive offered higher quotes for certain vintage bikes. Each insurer evaluates bikes differently, so we recommend comparing quotes from at least three antique and classic motorcycle insurance companies to ensure you're getting the cheapest rate.
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 classic cars, classic motorcycles that are limited editions, rare antiques or considered exceptionally valuable for any reason, might require a specialty policy to insure them. In those cases, you should call a specialty bike insurer, such as Hagerty or American Collectors, for a classic motorcycle insurance quote.
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 collectors motorcycle of an extremely high value will require proof of a third-party appraisal or documentation before a company will insure it.
Determining a Classic Motorcycle's Value for Insurance
Unlike with vintage automobiles, the majority of large insurance companies 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 they ask potential policyholders to declare an “agreed” value. Agreed value motorcycle insurance is typically limited to classic or collector bikes and works similarly to other policies, except the assessment of the bikes value is provided by you, the owner. Some insurers will also ask for an appraisal, supporting your declared value, but that's not always the case.
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 value. Since most classic motorcycles are factory-built, they are easy for insurance companies to approximately value using the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA Motorcycle Appraisal Guide, which you can use as reference as well.
An agreed value for a classic motorcycle can be a good or a bad thing. It’s nice for consumers because it allows you to purchase the appropriate amount of coverage if you think your bike was undervalued by the insurer's approximations. On the other hand, it puts the responsibility on you to correctly value your vintage motorcycle. If your estimate isn't correct, you could overpay for unnecessary coverage or be underinsured. We recommend that if there's any uncertainty about a bike's real value, classic motorcycle owners should have their bikes professionally appraised. Hagerty Insurance has an online appraisal tool that could be useful to cross-check as well. The tool enables antique bike owners to search by make, model, year and VIN.
Should you have an accident where your bike was badly damaged enough to be considered a total loss, insurance companies, such as Progressive, typically would pay the agreed value of a classic motorcycle. 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.
Note that if you expect your classic motorcycle to appreciate in value over time, you should seek out a specialty insurer, as you'll want to have coverage that is tailored to your bike. You will likely have to provide some form of verification of the motorcycle's worth, such as an appraisal or documentation showing it's a limited edition. But it's important to not be underinsured, in case your motorcycle is damaged and worth more than its value when you purchased a policy.
Does Insurance Cover A Classic Motorcycle Jacket And Helmet?
Classic and vintage motorcycle insurance will generally pay to replace safety gear and accessories if they are stolen or damaged in a crash, so long as you've added the carried contents coverage to your policy. However, like bodily injury and property damage protection, coverage for accessories usually has a claim limit—the maximum dollar amount the insurer will pay toward replacement. 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 typically claim limit is $2,000, but a single motorcycle jacket could cost that much.