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When you purchase a new motorcycle, it’s not unusual for friends and family members to ask a few questions. They want to know how much the bike was, where you got it, and if they can take it for a ride.

Tossing a friend your keys if you have a new car is one thing. When talking about a motorcycle, it is better to pause to consider the entire situation.

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The first issue involves the legality of operating the motorcycle on public roads. Does your friend have the appropriate license or endorsement?

Secondly, does your motorcycle insurance cover other people than yourself when operating the bike?

If either answer is no, you must keep those keys to yourself.

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Your Friend’s Insurance Doesn’t Cover Your Bike

Insurance companies look for verifiable financial interests when issuing a policy. If you own a motorcycle, your friend doesn’t have a monetary stake in what happens to the equipment. It is your policy that covers injuries and damages if you have a collision policy.

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Your friend’s insurance might be accessible if the damages to the motorcycle or medical injuries from the accident exceed the limits of your policy. It is more likely that their coverage will only look at their injuries rather than considering the damage to your equipment.

If your friend doesn’t have motorcycle insurance, your policy might pay for some of the damage or injuries but not all of them. You’d be the one left to pay the difference if that scenario occurs.

What If My Friend Borrows My Bike Without Permission?

If your friend takes your motorcycle for a ride without permission, you’ll need to file a police report outlining the incident. This behavior could be considered theft.

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Even though you might not want to get your friend in trouble, your insurance will likely cover the costs if the incident goes unreported. You could have significant out-of-pocket responsibilities.

It is essential to remember that the insurance follows the motorcycle, not the owner or rider when others operate your equipment.

What If My Friend Doesn’t Have a License?

When someone operates a vehicle illegally, the insurance company could have a reason to lower their payment responsibilities on a claim.

Your friend could receive a citation or fine or be arrested for operating the motorcycle without a valid license or endorsement.

Even if the accident is not due to your friend’s actions on the motorcycle, the insurer can choose to cover only a portion of the damages. Illegally operating the equipment is usually listed in a policy as a stipulation that allows payment denials.

Will My Premiums Rise If My Friend Is in an Accident?

If your friend has an accident with your motorcycle, but it isn’t their fault, and no injuries occurred, the likelihood that your premiums rise is minimal if the other insurer covers the liability costs.

Although that doesn’t guarantee the outcome, other factors play a role.

A friend with a poor driving record could cause your premiums to rise because the insurer sees you as being at a higher risk for allowing someone else to operate the equipment.

The first insurance coverage is yours when your friend drives. If they have motorcycle insurance, additional coverage could be available in some situations. That’s why it is always best to talk to someone first so that you can verify their license and insurance status.

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Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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