Understanding motorcycle insurance

Man riding motorcycle

Unlike auto insurance (where you don't need special coverage for things like accessories), a basic, lowest-cost motorcycle policy may not cover some of the customizations you've made on your bike—like that special chrome or those new saddlebags. So it only makes sense to check. Companies that specialize in insuring motorcycles—like Markel—have motorcycle-specific options readily available, and they're plainly listed in your policy.

So, without further ado, some motorcycle insurance "lingo".

Coverages for others

Bodily injury liability:

Protects you and your assets when you become legally liable to someone else due to a motorcycle accident that caused injury, sickness, or death.

Passenger liability:

Protects you in the event you become legally liable due to an accident that causes injury, sickness, or death to a passenger who is not an insured on your policy. This is designed to pay for their injuries, not yours.

Property damage liability:

Provides coverage for an accident through which you become legally liable for damage that took place while you were riding your motorcycle. This is designed to pay for their property, not yours.

Coverages for your motorcycle

Accessory coverage:

Covers everything from your custom chrome and leather riding gear to your windshield, fairings, and sissy bar.


Covers your bike's repairs or its replacement cost in the event of an accident caused by collision or upset.


Pays for damage to your bike from non-collision events, such as fire, theft, or vandalism.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage:

Gives you additional protection against damage to your bike caused by a motorist who has no insurance or insufficient coverage, and is considered at fault.

Mechanical breakdown coverage:

An optional coverage that pays the cost of specific components in the event of a mechanical breakdown, depending on the year, make, and model of the insured bike.

Trailer coverage:

Protects trailers designed specifically for pulling behind a motorcycle or trike, and towed exclusively by the insured vehicle.

Coverages for you as the operator

Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage:

Provides protection for your injuries or death if you are involved in an accident with a motorist who has no insurance or insufficient coverage, and is considered at fault.

Medical payments:

An optional coverage that provides excess medical payments (after any other medical coverage you may have) for you or any person you've given permission to ride your bike and any passenger, regardless of fault.

Funeral expense coverage:

Pays up to a predetermined amount for funeral expenses associated with a motorcycle accident resulting in the death of an insured person who was occupying the insured motorcycle.

Additional coverages

Rental reimbursement coverage:

Pays costs incurred for renting a substitute vehicle when your bike isn't operable for over 24 hours due to a covered loss.

Roadside assistance:

Includes trip interruption reimbursement, 24-hour motorcycle emergency towing and road service, tire and battery service, and more.


Your bike is as unique as you are, and—to be on the safe side—its insurance coverage should be just as unique. It's important to review your policy because when the snow is gone and the sun is bright, that open road is going to call. And when that day comes, you want to be ready.

Man riding motorcycle
This article is intended for general informational purposes only regarding non-insurance matters and is not designed to provide professional advice.
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