What You Need to Know – Beginner’s Guide to Bike Insurance
We congratulate you for making the smart decision to enroll in a Rider Training Course. By completing this course successfully, you will greatly reduce the chances that you will be involved in a motorcycle accident, and that’s great news to insurance companies (and, obviously, great news for you!)
Insuring your bike is a significant expense, and you want to make sure you are getting a competitive rate. Equally important, however, are the details that are involved in the coverage you will arrange. Some rules and guidelines vary between companies, but in general a smaller, less expensive bike will cost less to insure, and so will an older rider. The following general rules tend to be true about bike insurance in Ontario.
Rule number one: Always get an airtight insurance quote before putting money down on a bike. Too often, people find out after buying that sweet bike that was a real deal from a friend’s friend that the insurance cost will be extremely high, or that no insurance company wants to insure it at all. Some bikes are clearly high performance “Sport” bikes that will be expensive or difficult to insure and require a high level of experience and skill to ride. Bikes labeled “Rebuilt” are very difficult and expensive to insure. Be cautious of bikes that have aftermarket frames or engines since these are also red flags to many insurers. Do your homework; educate yourself about the style of bike you are interested in, then find a broker who can explain in detail what the insurance implications are for the parameters you’ve set.
Rule number two: Answer the questions posed by the broker in honest and clear detail. They will check later anyway, so don’t waste your time being evasive or vague. Number of traffic violations, cancellations of previous policies, accidents, other M licensed persons in the household: these and other details are extremely important to determine whether you qualify and how much you will have to pay. If you have had more than one traffic ticket (not including parking tickets) in the past three years, get a copy of your Drivers Abstract at the Ministry of Transportation before getting insurance quotes so that you know exactly what your record is. The Abstract costs about $15.
Rule number three: Remember when you shop for insurance that there are a lot of details to understand, and a good insurance broker will explain things well to you. You need to understand the details, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no “perfect” coverage; the policy that suits you should be personalized. Some people need to have theft coverage on a relatively inexpensive bike in order to feel comfortable, for example. Some people take Collision coverage off their bikes because they have a very tight budget. Beyond comfort level and affordability issues, there are certain limits of coverage that are the minimum that a responsible broker will recommend, such as $1 million liability limit. A good broker will guide you through this decision making process clearly, and will help to ensure you have reached a balance of coverage that fits you.
Rule number four: While the cost of the insurance is obviously important, it’s also very important that you trust your broker and insurance company. Like any professional service that you purchase, you want to ensure that you are dealing with a brokerage that you are comfortable with and that will be there for you if you have questions, problems, or claims. You don’t want to be pressured to bring your car, house, etc., to that broker/agent just so that they will insure your bike. You want them to understand bike insurance; you don’t want to be insured with someone who is hesitant about insuring you, or who has an obvious aversion to motorcycles. If you get conflicting advice from brokers, be patient and make them explain themselves until you are fully satisfied that you understand. You, the customer, must demand nothing less.
Ontario motorcycle riders are required by law to have the following insurance coverages on their motorcycle to get an Ontario plate and to ride legally: Liability, Accident Benefits, Uninsured Automobile and Direct Compensation Property Damage. This is essentially the “basic” coverage that most insurance sales people quote.
The lowest liability limit that you should consider carrying in Ontario is $1 million. The amount of damage that you can do riding a motorcycle is significant, so you want to ensure you are adequately covered.
Accident Benefits covers you for Income Replacement, Medical Rehabilitation, Death and Funeral Expenses, and other things, subject to limits. It is very important to review those limits to confirm whether increasing those limits would be a good idea for you. A good insurance broker will walk you through this issue thoroughly and clearly. It is very important to be aware of these coverage limits at the outset; too often riders discover the limitations of their policies after a significant loss, which is too late.
Loss or Damage coverage for the motorcycle itself is quite straightforward, but again you want to ensure that you are being advised clearly by your broker. If you have financing on your bike, you will be required to have Fire, Theft, and Collision by the bank/lienholder. Ask your broker what the cost difference is if you have higher or lower deductibles; sometimes lower deductibles cost only a little more than higher deductibles, and that is significant if your bike is stolen or written off in an accident.
For complete details of motorcycle insurance coverages, consult an Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP 1). Riders Plus Insurance will supply motorcycle riders with a copy if they request it: phone 1-877-251-4504 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.