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In the United States, 49 out of 50 states require proof of motorcycle insurance before you’re allowed to register your bike and receive your license plate.

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Florida is the only exception. Here’s more about this state.

You can purchase a motorcycle at a dealership or a private seller without insurance. If you intend to ride it legally, you’ll need to obtain an insurance policy that meets the minimum coverage limits where you live.

Each state has specific legal minimum limits. Most require $25,000 in bodily injury protection and $50,000 per accident, along with $10,000 for property damage coverage, designated as 25/50/10.

Alaska and Maine require 50/100/25 for motorcycles to operate legally. Minnesota, North Carolina, and Texas require more than the average amount.

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Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Vermont require less than the U.S. average.

Does Motorcycle Insurance Matter If I Buy a New or a Used Bike?

When purchasing a motorcycle from a dealership, the insurance needed for the bike depends on whether you’re paying cash, leasing, or obtaining financing.

Most lease and loan companies require operators to carry comprehensive and collision coverage to protect the purchase value. Even if you own the motorcycle outright, it’s worth having this coverage because it safeguards against vandalism, theft, and weather-related issues.

couple of man looking at camera while riding on bikes

Dealerships must see proof of insurance before allowing you to drive a motorcycle off the lot. If you have other vehicles covered already with a policy, a grace period of up to 72 hours might apply to allow for sorting out the coverage levels you want. Without an existing policy, there is no grace period.

Virginia and New Hampshire have exceptions for having insurance to drive legally.

Your insurance provider will send a digital proof of insurance to the dealership. You can also ask the company to fax documents to your location when hardcopies are necessary.

The motorcycle VIN is necessary for coverage, usually found on the steering neck or motor.

What About Insuring a Used Motorcycle?

If you purchase a used motorcycle from a dealership or a private sale with financing, the same requirements to carry comprehensive and collision coverage typically apply.

Note that:

When you pay cash for the transaction in a private sale, the local government works more on the honor system. If you don’t obtain insurance, you could be held legally and financially liable for your actions and any damage caused.

Older motorcycles benefit from having liability coverage to safeguard against financial loss in an accident. Comprehensive and collision aren’t always needed if the bike’s replacement value is minimal.

These expectations apply whether you buy a motorcycle in-person or online.

Are There Motorcycle Insurance Alternatives?

If you don’t have motorcycle insurance, you can still transport your new bike to your home address or another location. The easiest method is to hire a shipping service to transport it. You can find local and long-distance options that professionally load and deliver.

It’s worth mentioning that:

Since there is still a risk of damage, you’ll want to check your shipper’s insurance certificate to ensure that policy covers any problems. Most companies charge about fifty cents per mile for this service, including the insurance protection.

You can also have a licensed motorcycle operator drive your new bike from the dealership. The same requirements for proof of insurance apply.

If you drive a motorcycle off a lot after buying it without insurance or a driver’s license, various penalties might apply. Fines, imprisonment, community service, and other consequences could be ordered upon conviction.

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