Are you covered?

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Motorcycle enthusiasts in Washington State will be required to have liability Insurance (or have a liability bond or a certificate of deposit with the Department of Licensing) beginning July 28, 2019. Liability insurance pays for damages you cause to other people or property. It doesn’t cover damage to you or your own property. Insurance that covers damage to your motorcycle is called collision insurance (when a collision with a car or other object is involved) or comprehensive insurance (covers non-collision damage such as fire or collision with a deer). Damage to you is covered under Personal Injury Protection. We’re not insurance agents, and there’s a lot to consider, so please talk with an agent to see what kind of coverage you need.

The state requires motorcyclists to have liability coverage of up to $25,000.00 for injuries to or death of one other person and $50,000.00 for injuries or death to all other people and $10,000.00 for damage to another person’s property.

For example, let’s say you skid on ice, lose control, and run your motorcycle up onto the sidewalk and into a group of people and then through the window of a florist shop. One person is killed, and insurance pays those expenses up to $25,000.00. Three others are hurt, and insurance pays up to $50,000.00 divided amongst them to pay their medical expenses, and insurance pays the florist for the window—and the frozen flowers—up to $10,000.00.

You are responsible for all the costs of the accident—which may be far higher than the amounts required by the law. You’ll want to talk to your insurance agent about what coverage limits you should have.

It’s easy to think that motorcyclists are rarely at fault in a vehicle collision. However, even if you are not completely at fault, you might be found to be partly at fault—expressed as a percentage—and then you are responsible for that percent of all damages. Your liability insurance will cover those costs up to the limits of the policy and you are responsible for costs above those limits.

We asked the Washington State Department of Insurance whether motorcyclists can add motorcycle liability insurance to an existing automobile insurance policy. They said some insurance companies will add an endorsement, but most will require a separate motorcycle policy. And, of course, if you don’t have a car, you’ll need a motorcycle policy.

When you talk to your agent, remember that liability coverage does not include you, your motorcycle, or your gear. The folks at the Department of Insurance want to remind you that custom equipment (clothing, communication gear, and so on) must be insured separately, so ask your agent about that. You can also get insurance that will cover at least some of your costs if you have an accident with a person who has no insurance and who is wholly or partly at fault (uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage).

Remember, the cost of motorcycle insurance will vary based on a number of factors, here is a list of a few of the most common.

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  • The make, model and year of manufacture.
  • Expected annual mileage.
  • Credit scores for all drivers of the vehicle.
  • The ages of all drivers who will be using the motorcycle.
  • The amount of driving experience for all potential drivers.
  • Your address and the location where the vehicle will be stored when not in use.
  • The type of insurance coverage you need, including additional coverage you might want (i.e. towing or roadside assistance).
  • How the motorcycle is used (i.e. communiting to work, leisurely joyriding, for bragging rights, or for dangerous stunts).
  • Accident records for all drivers of the vehicle.

If you have questions, the Washington State Department of Insurance has a chat feature, and insurance agents are happy to provide answers.