What’s the Difference Between Car & Motorcycle Insurance?

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you live in Florida and own a motorcycle, you no doubt enjoy being able to ride it nearly all year around.  That being said, there are some notable differences when it comes to insuring a bike as opposed to a car in Florida.  In the Sunshine State, it isn’t even mandatory to carry insurance to register a motorcycle, whereas the state requires you to carry insurance to register a car, truck, van or SUV.  That doesn’t mean a motorcycle owner isn’t going to be held financially responsible for any damage and/or injuries caused if they’re involved in a crash.  Far from it.

Florida gives motorcycle owners three options from which to choose:

      1.      Purchase liability insurance from a licensed Florida insurer

      2.      Post a surety bond with licensed Florida insurer

      3.      Obtain a self-insurance certificate

The only exception to this rule is if you decide not to wear a helmet.  In that case, Florida requires you to carry at least $10,000 bodily injury coverage per person or $20,000 bodily injury per accident, plus $10,000 in property damage coverage and $10,000 medical coverage since motorcyclists in Florida don’t qualify for PIP.  There are also several other differences between car and motorcycle insurance in Florida. 

Who’s fault is it?  While Florida is designated as a no-fault state where medical bills are paid regardless of who’s at fault in an accident, this law doesn’t apply to motorcycles.  What this means to bikers is if they’re involved in an accident that isn’t their fault, they’re forced to pursue compensation for everything from medical bills and damage to their bike, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.  Since more than a quarter of drivers in Florida have no insurance at all, this makes it doubly difficult to seek compensation should a motorcyclist be injured by one of these motorists. 

Who’s covered by motorcycle insurance?  If you insure a car, truck, van, or SUV, passengers are automatically covered under your auto policy.  If you buy motorcycle insurance, this isn’t the case unless it’s expressly stipulated on your policy.  Since motorcycles are designed to carry a single rider, most insurers require bike owners to purchase a secondary policy if they wish to cover a passenger in case of injury. 

What kind of penalties can you expect if you don’t carry insurance? – If you should become involved in an accident where you are deemed at-fault and you have no insurance, here’s what you can expect:

      1.      Your driving privileges can be suspended.

      2.      Your registration and license plate can be suspended.

      3.      You’ll be required to purchase bodily injury and property damage insurance coverage for three years once your suspension is lifted.

4.      You’ll be required to pay for any damages sustained by any passengers on your vehicle who may have been injured, along with property and physical damage caused by you to any motorists or pedestrians involved in the accident.  What this usually amounts to are lawsuits and civil judgments that are soon filed with the court that you’ll be responsible to pay, not to mention the cost of defending yourself in court.

Image courtesy Hippopx.com

What happens if you get pulled over on your bike and you have no insurance? Despite evidence to the contrary, if your bike is pulled over by the police, you’re still required to show the officer your license, registration and some form of proof that you’re able to live up to your financial responsibility as a motorist.  This means you’ll need to either produce an insurance card or a self-insurance certificate issued by the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.  Failure to provide these could result in additional fines or even having your motorcycle impounded until you can prove your financial responsibilities have been satisfied to the state of Florida.

How likely is a motorcyclist to file an accident claim in Florida? Year in and year out, motorcycle accidents account for 2-4% of all motor vehicle accidents in Florida. While that may not seem like a big number, bear in mind that 2015 saw a 15-year high of 584 motorcycle fatalities, which represented nearly 20% of all vehicular fatalities that year.  While the number of fatalities involving motorcycles have declined during the past six years, the number of fatalities to motorcyclists still remained above 500 every year since 2015.  That says nothing of the number of bike owners and passengers who were injured in accidents in Florida.

What kind of coverage is available to motorcycle owners?   Other than opting to carry liability and medical coverage for you and your passenger, there are a few other options you may wish to consider:

      1.      Uninsured motorist coverage

      2.      Collision coverage that pays for damage done to your bike in an accident.

      3.      Comprehensive coverage that covers non-accident damage done to your bike, including theft, vandalism, and weather-related damage.

4.      Gap insurance can help you pay off your bike loan should the vehicle be declared a total loss.

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. I don't know which is scarier, riding without a helmet or without motorcycle insurance.


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