Canceling Motorcycle Insurance in the Winter vs. Laid-Up Insurance

Canceling Motorcycle Insurance in the Winter vs. Laid-Up Insurance

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A lot of motorcycle riders live in places with winter seasons that prevent them from riding their bikes. To save money on motorcycle insurance while you aren’t riding, you can either cancel your policy, reduce your coverage or increase your deductible. Each of these alternatives allows you to save on motorcycle insurance costs, but only by keeping coverage in place can you make sure your bike stays protected until the summer.

Issues with canceling motorcycle insurance in the winter

While you can purchase a motorcycle insurance policy for the summer months and cancel it during the winter to save money, we recommend against this option, as it has several downsides.

First, you’re likely to face fees or penalties if you cancel your motorcycle insurance in the winter months. Many insurance policies have a one-year term, and a carrier might charge you a termination fee for canceling early, reducing any prorated amount you receive as a refund for the months you were not covered.

For example, if you cancel a motorcycle insurance policy costing $1,000 per year (the average in the U.S. is $519) after six months, you might be refunded $500. If you are charged a typical $30 cancellation fee, you might only receive $470 after canceling the policy.

The savings might be appealing and beneficial in the short term, but canceling a motorcycle insurance policy and renewing the same one a few months later might not work as smoothly as you anticipate.

If your motorcycle insurance company recognizes you are cyclically canceling and renewing the same policy to save money, it may choose not to insure you again. In that case, you would need to get insurance from another carrier, and the premiums could be significantly more expensive. Depending on how long you plan to own your motorcycle, you might end up paying more in premiums over time than the amount you saved canceling your insurance in the cooler months.

Canceling and renewing a motorcycle insurance policy during certain months also exposes you to greater risk. Even if a motorcycle is only sitting in a garage during the winter, there are still opportunities for it to be damaged or stolen. If something happened to your bike during the period it was uninsured, you would have to pay to repair or replace it entirely out of pocket. However, if you maintained a motorcycle insurance policy with comprehensive coverage, your insurer would pay claims for damage during the winter months as well.

There is also a chance unseasonably warm weather will occur for one day, and you might choose to take your bike out for a ride. In that case, riders who canceled their motorcycle insurance might not be able to get new policies that same day and would be unable to legally ride.

By reducing your coverage or taking other steps to lower your premiums during the winter, you can keep coverage in place and save money during the time you’re less likely to use your motorcycle insurance.

"Lay-up" insurance and motorcycle winterization

Some insurers offer what are called "lay-up," laid-up or motorcycle storage insurance policies. Laid-up motorcycle insurance policies allow you to effectively pause the liability, collision and other parts of your coverage that would typically be used if you’re involved in an accident on the road. However, a lay-up policy maintains comprehensive coverage on the motorcycle, which offers protection against theft and non-accident sources of damage, such as a fire.

Laid-up policies are commonly offered in northern states of the U.S., where driving conditions November through March are too hazardous for motorcycles.

In places with long winters, many riders choose to winterize and store their motorcycles with no intention of riding them until the season changes, so lay-up policies are ideal. On the other hand, if you think you might want to ride your bike sometime in the winter months, you can ask to maintain some level of liability coverage so you could ride during unseasonably warm weather.

Insurance carriers that offer a "lay-up" period (or some form of midterm coverage alteration) also might include a "sunny day clause" that allows you one day of liability coverage during the lay-up period. This is a helpful option, as it allows you to maintain the coverage you need while minimizing anything extraneous to reduce your motorcycle insurance costs in the winter.

Raise your deductible to lower rates during the winter

Increasing the deductible for a motorcycle insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage will lower the cost of the premiums. A higher deductible — the amount you pay before an insurer covers a claim — reduced the cost of premiums for a Geico motorcycle insurance policy by as much as 35% for a sample rider and bike. It’s a simple way to make motorcycle insurance rates more affordable during the winter, when you’re less likely to be involved in a collision, without compromising your coverage.

Insurance deductible
Annual premium*
No comprehensive coverage$99

*The annual premiums quoted by Geico were for a sample rider: a 45-year-old male who is married and lives in Ohio. The sample motorcycle was a 2016 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

The amount of money motorcycle owners can save on premiums by increasing their deductibles depends on the insurance carrier, the motorcycle and the deductible itself. It’s possible other motorcycle insurance companies offer even cheaper rates for increased deductibles. Although, Geico offers one of the widest ranges of options for deductibles.

For motorcycle owners who don’t ride their bikes frequently, either due to the weather or by choice, increasing the deductible is an especially good method to save on premiums. And you can maintain a higher deductible during the summer months, as well, to get lower motorcycle insurance rates throughout the year.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.