Unfortunately, these routes (among many other biking routes in California), are used by other bikers and drivers as well. This increases the risk of accidents on the roads. If you’d like to move to California with your motorcycle, or buy a motorcycle, it’s important to learn about California motorcycle insurance.
Read this guide for more information about what motorcycle insurance coverage you’ll need to safely and legally ride in California.
Motorcycle License Requirements In California
In California, you must have a license to operate your motorcycle. The first thing you need to do is get a Motorcycle Driver Handbook either at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or online. This book features much of the required information to pass the written exam.
Generally, there are two classes of licenses, M1 and M2. With a Class M1 license, you can drive any 2-wheel motorcycle and other motorized vehicles in Class M2. On the other hand, a Class M2 license allows you to operate mopeds and motorized scooters but excludes motorcycles.
Before you get your license, you must acquire a motorcycle permit. The permit lasts for six months, during which a rider can practice and get comfortable on the motorcycle.
But you’re not allowed to ride your bike at night or on the freeway. You also can’t carry passengers.
To get a California motorcycle learner’s permit, you must:
- Be at least 15 years old
- Have a CA driver’s license or show proof of driver’s education or training
- Complete a California Highway Patrol (CHP) motorcycle rider training course (applicable for riders under the age of 21)
After receiving your permit, you can now apply for and obtain your motorcycle license, but only if you:
- Pass a written test
- Pass a vision test
- Acquire a Certificate of Completion of Training
- Pass traffic signs and laws test
Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance?
As a rider in California, purchasing motorcycle insurance isn’t only the smartest move to make: it’s the law. The state requires all registered motorcycles to obtain liability coverage. That way, you’ll be able to pay for property damages and bodily injuries if you cause an accident.
You must have the following levels of coverage:
- $15,000 bodily injury coverage – covers one injured person in an accident
- $30,000 bodily injury liability coverage – covers total injuries in an accident
- $5,000 Property damage liability coverage
However, you should note that the state-required liability insurance won’t cover your own injuries and property damages. So, you may want to buy additional insurance to protect yourself and your passengers fully.
Some of the common coverages you can add to your policy are collision and comprehensive motorcycle insurance coverage. Collision coverage pays for replacement costs or repairs required by your motorcycle after a collision, irrespective of fault.
Comprehensive coverage pays for non-collision mishaps that might occur. This includes instances where your bike is wrecked, stolen, or damaged by weather elements. Remember, you must also meet your deductible before the claims are paid out.
Despite strict laws against riding without insurance coverage, some riders either don’t carry any or simply leave the accident scene before you obtain their policy information to file a claim. That’s where Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage comes in.
It’s wise to consider adding this type of coverage to your policy as it provides financial protection when the at-fault driver doesn’t carry enough insurance or any at all.
How Does California Motorcycle Insurance Work?
Just like taking home insurance, motorcycle insurance helps you protect your investment. It works in the same way as car insurance. For instance, if you have property damage and bodily injury liability coverage, it covers the damages you cause to someone’s property, but only up to your policy’s limit.
Your insurance will also cover portions 0f legal costs if the injured rider files a lawsuit against you. If the claim cost exceeds your policy’s limit, you’ll have to pay for the other expenses out of pocket. Depending on the type and amount of coverage you have, it may also cover hospital bills for you and your passengers.
Consequences Of Not Having California Motorcycle Insurance
You’re required by law in California to carry proof of motorcycle insurance when riding your bike. The severest penalties that come with operating without proof of insurance are the financial expenses of an uncovered accident. These expenses are often unaffordable for most motorcyclists.
For instance, the treatment costs for a severe brain injury can exceed $50,000. And remember, even if you have auto insurance, it can’t protect you in case of an accident while on your bike.
Apart from the financial risks associated with lacking insurance, you’re also at risk of being fined $100, and it can even reach $500 for repeat offenses. Besides levying fines, police officers can impound your bike if they catch you operating without insurance.
This means you’ll have to incur more costs to retrieve your motorcycle from the impound lot. And to make it even worse, the authorities won’t release your bike until you provide proof of insurance.
Do Standard Motorcycle Insurance Policies Cover Modified Bikes?
Most bike buffs like to modify their motorcycles. There’s nothing bad about that, but just remember your regular Motorcycle Insurance policy won’t cover those modifications.
This includes optional augmentations and aftermarket performance parts that you install after purchasing the bike. Luckily, you can buy additional coverage for your modified bike. Keep in mind that your service provider may need receipts to verify your modification values.
Can You Earn A Discount On Your California Motorcycle Insurance Policy?
As with vehicles, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your insurance rate. This includes investing in anti-theft devices or completing a motorcycle safety course. What’s more, you can qualify for discounts by selecting a higher deductible or paying for your coverage upfront.
Shop Around For The Right Policy
California motorcycle insurance doesn’t come cheaply. Plus, different state areas such as San Fransisco come with very expensive average costs of coverage. Fortunately, you can find the perfect rate by requesting quotes from multiple insurance companies. Don’t forget to consider coverage options and customer service.