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Seasonal motorcycle insurance

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If you live in a part of the country where cold, harsh weather forces you to store your motorcycle over the winter, you might be tempted to cancel your motorcycle insurance to save money. However, canceling your insurance for temporary savings may leave you liable for damages and vulnerable to fines and other expenses.

There are other ways to potentially save money and reduce your insurance premiums while keeping you and your bike protected. Let’s explore what seasonal motorcycle insurance is and why canceling your insurance for six months isn’t a good idea.

Can you drop motorcycle insurance in the winter?

While your insurance provider can’t prevent you from dropping your motorcycle coverage in the winter, we recommend you keep your policy active year-round. Keeping your motorcycle covered helps protect you from insurance-related financial risks, paying out of pocket if something happens to your bike, and missing out on off-season ride opportunities.

The risks of dropping motorcycle insurance

Canceling your motorcycle insurance—even for part of the year—exposes you to some potentially steep financial risks.

  • You violate financial agreements: If you have an active lease or loan on your motorcycle, you’re usually required to carry liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage for the life of the contract. If you cancel your policy, you’ll violate your financial agreements.
  • You may face early cancellation fees: Depending on your insurance provider, you may be penalized if you cancel your policy early. Many policies are sold based on a 12-month agreement. Canceling early may cause you to incur a cancelation fee, reducing the amount you’d save by going without motorcycle insurance for a few months.
  • Your carrier may refuse to insure you: If you make canceling and renewing your motorcycle policy an annual habit, your insurance provider will notice. They may refuse to insure you again, and you’ll have to switch carriers. This could mean higher premiums, negating any savings you were hoping for.
  • Your policy’s price increases: If you cancel your insurance over the winter and start it again in the spring, the policy’s price may go up, even with the same coverage amounts.

Damage or theft in storage

Putting your motorcycle into storage during the winter months is generally a safe option. However, it’s still at risk of being stolen or damaged. Winter weather could damage the storage structure, which could harm your motorcycle. There’s also the risk of fire or flood, both of which could total your bike.

If you drop your insurance over the winter, you’ll likely be liable for any damages or theft, and you’ll have to pay out of pocket to repair or replace your motorcycle. These costs can outweigh any savings you may have gotten from canceling your insurance.

Unexpected ride opportunities

There are times when the weather is unseasonably warm in the winter, and you may want to take advantage of it and enjoy a ride. Winter riding also helps keep your bike’s parts lubricated. If you’ve canceled your insurance, it may be difficult to restart your policy on the same day, leaving you unable to legally ride.

Can you put a hold on motorcycle insurance?

No, you can’t put a hold on motorcycle insurance. However, some insurance carriers may offer a type of temporary policy—sometimes referred to as a “lay-up” policy—that reduces or pauses some coverages like liability and collision without eliminating comprehensive coverage. Keeping comprehensive coverage helps ensure you’re protected in case your bike is damaged, vandalized, or stolen while it’s in storage.

Can you ride a motorcycle without insurance?

In nearly all states, it’s illegal to operate a motorcycle without insurance. If you’re caught riding without insurance, you could experience long-term or even permanent consequences like losing your license. In such cases, your license may only be reinstated if you pay a fee and have your insurance agency file an SR-22 form. Additionally, you could face:

Tickets

You don’t have to be driving recklessly or get in an accident for a police officer to pull you over. If they run your license plate number on a drive-by check, they’ll know if you don’t have insurance and can issue you a ticket.

Fines

You can be fined thousands of dollars for riding without motorcycle insurance. With a fine that large, you’re not saving any money by canceling your insurance.

Impound

Another potential consequence of being caught operating a motorcycle without insurance is the possibility of having your motorcycle impounded at your expense. Again, these costs would likely outweigh any insurance premiums you want to skip.

Post-accident expenses

Finally, if you’re uninsured and determined to be at fault in an accident, you’ll likely be found liable for any damages and may have to pay for the other motorists’ medical expenses and vehicle repair costs.

Motorcycle insurance requirements

Motorcycle insurance requirements vary from state to state, but every state that requires motorcycle insurance will require you to carry at least liability coverage. If you paid for your motorcycle using a loan or a lease, your financial institution will almost always require liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage for the length of the loan or lease.

Save money on your motorcycle insurance

You know as well as anyone that owning a motorcycle can be an expensive hobby. However, there are ways you can save money on your motorcycle insurance without canceling and reactivating it every six months.

Motorcycle insurance discounts

Here are a few ways to qualify for motorcycle insurance discounts:

  • Join a motorcycle club: If you’re part of a legitimate motorcycle club, like the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), you may have access to special group discounts.
  • Bundle your insurance: You likely have multiple insurance policies, including on your car and off-road vehicles. Some insurance providers offer bundling discounts if you get two or more policies from them.
  • Get a safety certification: Your local DMV office may offer motorcycle safety training courses. These typically take place in the evenings or on the weekend and don’t cost very much. Once you’ve completed the course, you can share your certificate with your insurance provider. They may offer you a discount for taking safety training.
  • Increase your deductible: While a higher deductible may mean directly paying more if you have a claim, you might see significant savings on your monthly premiums.
  • Tell your insurer that you’re an infrequent rider: Perhaps you only ride your bike on the weekends, and you don’t ride at all in the winter. Your insurance provider may give you a discount for being an occasional rider.
  • Choose the right bike: The type of motorcycle you ride will impact your premiums. Larger, more powerful bikes generally lead to more expensive premiums than traditional road bikes. You can always request an insurance quote before you buy a new bike if you’re worried about the cost of the premiums.
  • Remember milestone birthdays: If you recently had a milestone birthday, like turning 25—the age when insurance premiums sometimes start decreasing—call your insurance provider to see if you qualify for lower rates.
  • Avoid accidents and violations: Serious accidents and driving violations can cause your insurance rates to increase. By following the rules of the road and practicing defensive driving habits, you can help keep your rates low.
  • Alert your provider if you move: Another factor that determines your insurance premiums is where you live. Some states, cities, and even neighborhoods will have higher or lower rates than others. If you recently moved, contact your provider to see if you may be eligible for lower rates.

Storage insurance

Some insurance providers offer motorcycle storage insurance—sometimes known as lay-up insurance—that applies when you won’t be riding your bike and it’s in storage. Storage insurance covers your bike in the event of theft or damage from covered exposures. 

Keep in mind, it may not be adequate insurance if you take your bike out of storage and go for a ride. And it’s also worth noting that storage insurance options for motorcycles are becoming less common.

If your motorcycle insurance provider offers lay-up periods, they may also offer you a one-time “sunny day clause” that gives you one day of liability coverage during the off-season. This would allow you to get your bike out on the road for a day and keep the engine lubricated until riding season begins again. 

Maintaining proper motorcycle insurance coverage is an important part of being a responsible motorcycle owner. Canceling your policy in the winter puts you at risk for a number of expenses—and for only minimal potential savings.

If you want to know more about motorcycle insurance and how to maximize your coverage while potentially reducing your costs, check out our guide to motorcycle insurance costs.

We also offer some tips for experienced riders who may need to reevaluate their coverage.

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