Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance?

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The majority of states in the U.S. require riders to have a motorcycle insurance policy. Two states – Florida, Washington – do not require it, although there are some exceptions in Florida. If you live in a state that does not require motorcycle insurance, you should still purchase a policy. Motorcycle insurance protects owners from incurring major costs that could be financially devastating.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements by State

Almost all states in the U.S. require owners to have motorcycle insurance and they must show proof of insurance to register their motorcycle. You have to register your motorcycle to get a license plate, otherwise you will be driving illegally, and that cost might be significant. Depending on the state a rider lives in and their policy, the cost of their premiums might be well above or below the average in the U.S.

Out of 50 states, motorcycle insurance is required in 47 of them but not every state requires the same amount of coverage. Each has its own minimum requirements for bodily injury and property damage liability -- the amount a policyholder's motorcycle insurance company will cover. In most states, motorcyclists have at least $25,000 in bodily injury protection per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as $10,000 in property damage coverage. The three limits are commonly displayed with slashes: (25/50/10).

For example, the minimum coverage required in the state of New York is 25/50/10 but the limits in Texas every policy must have are 30/60/25 ($30,000 for the bodily injury or death of a person in one accident; $60,000 in an accident with two or more people; and $25,000 of personal property coverage).

StateMinimum Liability Required
Alaska 50/100/25
Alabama 25/50/25
Arkansas 25/50/25
Arizona 15/30/10
California 15/30/5
Colorado 25/50/15
Connecticut 20/40/10
Delaware 15/30/10
Florida (Not required)
Georgia 25/50/25
Hawaii 20/40/10
Idaho 25/50/15
Illinois 25/50/20
Indiana 25/50/10
Iowa 20/40/15
Kansas 25/50/10
Kentucky 25/50/10
Louisiana 15/30/25
Maine 50/100/25
Maryland 30/60/15
Massachusetts 20/40/5
Michigan 20/40/10
Minnesota 30/60/10
Mississippi 20/50/25
Missouri 25/50/10
Montana 25/50/20
Nebraska 25/50/25
New Hampshire 25/50/25
New Jersey 15/30/5
New Mexico 25/50/10
New York 25/50/10
Nevada 15/30/10
North Carolina 30/60/25
North Dakota 25/50/25
Ohio 25/50/25
Oklahoma 25/50/25
Oregon 25/50/20
Pennsylvania 15/30/5
Rhode Island 25/50/25
South Carolina 25/50/25
South Dakota 25/50/25
Tennessee 25/50/15
Texas 30/60/25
Utah 25/65/15
Vermont 20/50/10
Virginia 25/50/20
Washington (Not required)
West Virginia 25/50/25
Wisconsin 25/50/10
Wyoming 25/50/20

*The bodily injury and property damage liability limits in the table are requirements as of September 2016.

California Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Motorcycle riders in California must have bodily injury coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, and property damage coverage of $5,000 (15/30/5). These limits apply to private passenger vehicles driven on public roadways (not ATVs or dirt bikes), but some vehicles are excluded.

For example, changes in California law created three separate classes of electric bicycles (which have a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour) beginning in 2016, but those vehicles do not have to be registered in California, they don’t require a license, and drivers do not need to prove financial responsibility.

Having said that, the rules might be different in other states. Electric bicycles (or mopeds and scooters) might have different laws and anyone who owns a motorcycle or similar vehicle needs to be aware of them. It is their responsibility to follow them and meet the necessary requirements.

The state of California also allows motorcycle riders to meet their financial responsibility in ways other than motorcycle insurance. In place of insurance, Californians can pay a cash deposit of $35,000 to the state’s department of motor vehicles, obtain a DMV-issued certificate of self-insurance or get a surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in the state.

Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance In Florida?

No. Riders in the state of Florida do not have to show proof of insurance to register their motorcycle and they are not required to purchase a motorcycle insurance policy. Riding a motorcycle without insurance is widely ill-advised, because people can potentially sue you for any damage or injuries you cause. Unless you have unlimited funds and don't mind parting with them, it's generally adviseable to have coverage to manage your liability exposure. On top of this, if you frequently take your motorcycle out-of-state for road trips, there may be requirements in those states you'll also have to follow.

The only exception in Florida is for riders who have been charged in a crash involving any injuries or certain motor vehicle violations. Florida state law requires those riders to purchase and keep bodily injury and property damage liability protection for three years. 

Florida law does not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, as long as they are at least 16 years old. However, motorcycle riders must wear eye protection at all times, regardless of whether they choose to wear a helmet. 

Does Washington Require Motorcycle Insurance?

No. The state of Washington does not require motorcycle riders to have insurance. To legally ride a bike in Washington, riders only have to do to one of two things: Successfully complete a motorcycle safety course or pass a knowledge and riding skills test.

Even though motorcycle insurance is not required in the state of Washington, it is highly recommended that riders purchase a policy. Remember, bike owners are responsible for any injuries they might cause, as well as any injuries others might sustain, regardless of whether they had permission to ride a bike. 

Riders in Washington also need to be mindful of where they are riding. If you're taking a scenic road trip to nearby states, keep in mind that the requirements are different there. Idaho, Oregon and Canada all require motorcycle riders to be insured and driving in any one of those places without coverage is against the law.

Montana Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Yes. As of 2015, motorcycle riders in Montana must have at least $25,000 in bodily injury protection per person ($50,000 per accident with more than one person) and $20,000 in personal property protection. The same limits apply to all motor vehicles on public roads in the state.

Motorcycle Insurance And Learner's Permits

The same local motorcycle insurance laws generally apply to new and fully licensed riders alike. Similar to the process to get a driver’s license, some motorcyclists might be required to hold a temporary or learner’s permit before obtaining their full license. Those learning to ride a motorcycle in most states will at least need to have a driver's license, which requires the same liability coverage.

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