Winterizing your motorcycle insurance policy
Now that your motorcycle is ready for winter, you may find yourself asking, "Should I put my motorcycle insurance into ‘hibernation’ during the winter as well?"
NO! While it may seem like a smart idea, there are potential risks and lost benefits to consider.
One risk is the potential of physical damage to the motorcycle while it is parked "safe and sound" in storage. Every winter, we get damage claims on motorcycles that were "safely stored for the winter." Here are a few scenarios that we've seen come across our claims desk:
- An owner took their motorcycle to a shop for maintenance and winterizing. While it was parked outside the shop, it was vandalized.
- The motorcycle was parked safe and sound in the house for the winter. However, a fire started in the kitchen and burned the house—along with the motorcycle—to the ground.
- While the motorcycle was stored for the winter, rodents chewed the seat and electrical wiring, and made a nest between the frame and engine.
- A snowplow piled snow onto the top of the motorcycle when it was parked, causing collision damage when it tipped over.
Another risk is the potential for bodily injury to a third party. Maintaining liability coverage while your motorcycle is parked can save you from paying an expensive injury claim out of your own pocket.
Example: You and your neighbor are in your garage working on the motorcycle, the motorcycle falls off its lift and crushes your neighbor's foot. Your liability coverage would pay for his medical bills, up to the policy limits—of course.
There are also some financial implications to consider when you think about canceling coverage over the winter. Cancelling coverage does not always "save you money" the way you would think. Keep in mind that:
- By cancelling your policy during the winter, you would no longer be eligible to receive a "renewal discount", and therefore, could potentially get the same rate as a brand new customer even though you may have been with your carrier for 2 years.
- Cancelling your policy would also reset the diminishing deductible feature on your policy. The theory behind diminishing deductibles is that for each consecutive year you are "accident free" your deductible will decrease by 25%—bringing it down to $0 after 4 years. If you were to cancel your policy during the winter, you are therefore bringing an end to your consecutive "accident free" years, and would have to start from scratch when you start up your policy again in spring.
Keep in mind that Mother Nature is unpredictable. There's sure to be that glorious January day, when the temperature suddenly rises, the sun shines bright, and you start feeling the powerful temptation to hop on your bike and take it out for a ride. Temptations like these present a much higher risk than the usual summer day for a couple of reasons:
- You're probably at greater risk of laying the bike down during the winter than in the summer because of all the salt and gravel on the roads.
- Despite a day being bright and sunny, roads can still be icy. During one recent winter, we received a claim for a rider that hit a patch of ice, lost control, slid off the roadway, and fell down a 50-foot cliff.
- Wild animals, like deer, elk, and moose, tend to be more active during hunting season/winter months, so you stand a greater chance of hitting one, or swerving to avoid an animal, losing control and crashing.
If you live where the wind and snow blows cold, make sure your motorcycle is winterized, properly maintained and prepared for the cold season. After all, you want to be in one piece—both physically and financially—when spring beckons you back to the open road!