Motorcycle insurance: How to play it safe when you're born to be wild

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According to Federal Highway Administration data, more than 7.7 million motorcycles took to U.S. roads in 2008.

To protect yourself and comply with relevant laws, you may need to purchase a variety of motorcycle insurance products. What are some of these types of coverage? And how can you save on motorcycle insurance?

Types of Coverage

Although the number of people who die in motorcycle crashes annually has dropped significantly over the past several years, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, riding motorcycles can still be dangerous -- particularly if you fail to wear a helmet, drive at night or drive while distracted or drunk. So motorcycles require dual protection: riding safely and getting the right insurance coverage.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle insurance is widely available from most of the country's top auto insurance companies. Some essential types of coverage include:

  • Liability insurance: Liability coverage will pay for property damage and bodily injuries that you cause during an accident (up to your coverage limits).
  • First-party medical coverage: This coverage will pay for your medical costs if you get hurt in a crash.
  • Guest passenger liability: This will protect you financially if a passenger riding your bike gets hurt in an accident.
  • Collision and comprehensive coverage: Collision covers physical damage to the bike incurred during an accident; comprehensive covers theft and damage caused by other events, like vandalism, fire or hail.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: If another driver hits but doesn't have insurance (or enough to pay for all the damage), this type of insurance covers your injuries and damage to your motorcycle up to your policy's limits.
  • Motorcycle accessories coverage: If you have made customized changes to your bike, or installed aftermarket parts or other add-ons, this insurance can cover damages related to those extras.

Cost-saving tips

In general, insurance companies will reward you for playing it safe and actively reducing your riskiness. Here are some tips:

  • Ask about discounts for any motorcycle associations or clubs you belong to.
  • Sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider course. Graduates may get insurance discounts, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Install locks and other devices to prevent bike theft.
  • If you've been riding for years, tell your insurance company; it may offer discounts for experienced riders.
  • If your insurance company allows it, suspend your coverage during "off months." Seasonal policies are sometimes available in areas with cold winters, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Reduce the number of miles you drive each year. If you're riding your motorcycle to work every day, your premiums will be higher to account for the increased risk.
  • Garage your motorcycle in a safe neighborhood.
  • Maintain a good driving record.
  • Buy a bike that has a reputation for safety (sports bikes, older bikes and bikes with "bad" safety records are more difficult and expensive to insure).
  • Wear your helmet and drive safely. If you get points on your license or get cited for breaking your state's helmet laws, your premiums could go up.

See how much you could save today on your car insurance. Get your free auto insurance quotes today!