Many motorcycle riders reside in parts of the country that experience the harsh type of winter conditions that can prevent them from riding their motorcycles year-round. In cases such as these, should you cancel your motorcycle insurance in the winter? Canceling your insurance during the winter is one way to save money. However, there are other options available as well, such as increasing your deductible or reducing your coverage. Each option will allow you to save some cash on insurance costs, but keeping your full coverage is the only way to ensure that your bike remains protected until it’s safe to hit the streets again.
What Happens When You Cancel Your Motorcycle Insurance?
Canceling your full coverage during the winter months comes with several downsides. Even if you don’t ride your bike year-round or rarely in the summertime, maintaining coverage will be crucial for many reasons.
First of all, you’ll be faced with penalties or fees, should you cancel your insurance. Many policies will come with a twelve-month term, which means the provider may charge a termination fee if you try to cancel your policy early. This will reduce any prorated amount you’ve received for the months you weren’t covered. As an example, if you cancel a policy that costs you around one thousand dollars a year after half a year, then you’ll only be refunded half of that. If you get charged a small cancellation fee of thirty dollars, then you’ll only get four hundred and seventy dollars after you cancel the policy.
While in the short term the savings may seem appealing, canceling your insurance policy and renewing it again after two or three months can be an issue. If your company notices that you regularly cancel your insurance and renew the same policy, in order to save cash, they may not want to insure you again. If this happens, then you’ll need to go to a new carrier where the premiums may be more expensive. You can even end up paying more in premiums over the years compared to how much you’ll really save but cutting off your insurance in the winter.
Renewing your insurance after you cancel it during the winter will also expose you to even greater risks. Even if you have your bike parked in the garage during the winter months, it can get stolen or damaged. If something happens to your bike during the winter when it’s not insured, then you’ll have to pay repair costs or pay to replace the bike using cash from your own pocket. If you maintain your insurance policy then your insurance provider would pay the claims during this time.
You may even enjoy a random sunny day during the winter and decide to take your bike out for a ride and end up in a serious accident or get pulled over and caught with no insurance. By taking steps to lower your premium or reducing your coverage during the winter, you’ll keep your coverage and still save some money.
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What is Laid Up Insurance?
Some insurance providers have policies known as laid up insurance. This is a policy that allows you to pause the collision, liability, and other parts of your coverage that you’d normally need if you were involved in an accident. However, this type of policy maintains coverage on the bike, which will provide protection against non-accident damages such as a fire, while also providing protection against theft. These policies are usually offered in parts of the country where driving during the winter months is too dangerous for motorcycles.
In parts of the country with harsh weather conditions during the winter, many motorcyclists will opt for winterizing and storing their bikes since they don’t intend to ride them until the spring. In cases such as these, a laid up policy will be ideal. But for motorcyclists who may want to ride their bike at some point in the winter, maintaining some level of liability insurance will be a smart move.
Insurance providers that offer this type of insurance may also include a sunny day clause, in which you’ll have one day of liability coverage during the winter months. This is an excellent option since it will allow you to maintain the type of coverage you’ll need should you get the urge to ride at some point during the winter.
Increase Your Deductible
With a motorcycle insurance policy, increasing the deductible will lower the cost of the premium. With a higher deductible, you can lower the cost of your premium by as much as thirty to forty percent. This is an easy way to make your insurance rates more affordable during a time when you’re not as likely to be involved in an accident, and all without compromising your coverage. The amount of money you’ll save on premiums by increasing your deductible will vary from carrier to carrier, the deductible itself, and the bike.
For riders who don’t take their bikes out frequently either by choice or because of the weather, increasing their deductible is a great way to save on premiums. Riders can maintain their higher deductibles during the summer months in order to get a lower insurance rate year-round.
If you’re on a tight budget, but you want to maintain your motorcycle coverage, there are some insurance providers that will knock off ten to fifteen percent on your monthly fees if you take a motorcycle safety course. If you’re not sure whether or not your insurance carrier provides, this, it’s definitely something you’ll want to ask before you decide to ditch your insurance policy altogether.
If you’re deciding to ditch your insurance during the winter, then you need to be certain that your bike will remain in the garage for the entire winter. Even if the weather suddenly turns nice, if you canceled your insurance, while you’ll be tempted to take your bike out for a ride, you’ll have to fight the urge. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of getting a ticket, or you could get in an accident and have no coverage to protect you.
Talk To Your Insurance Provider
If you live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winter conditions that prevent you from enjoying riding year-round, then speak to your insurance agent about seasonal ratings. Not every carrier will offer this type of option, but a seasonal rating will take into consideration the fact that riders may only use their bikes certain times of the year. The bike will be covered year-round, but for a lower premium, which will reflect the reduced usage during the winter months. You can also ask your insurance provider if they offer storage insurance.
Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around
Not every insurance provider is created equal, which is why it’s so important to shop around and learn what your insurance options really are during the winter months. By shopping around you’ll have a better idea of what’s available for you based on your riding history, the bike you have, and your budget.
Is it Really Unsafe to Ride in the Winter?
As I mentioned earlier, unseasonably warm days do happen sometimes, even during a particularly harsh winter. On those sunny days, you’ll be very tempted to ride your bike for an hour or two and take advantage of the sun while you can, especially if you live in a part of the country that experiences snow. Even in colder weather conditions, it’s still possible to safely ride your bike, especially if you have the right cold riding gear and heated grips on your bike. You can also speak to other riders in your part of the country and learn what places are safe to ride when you’re dealing with questionable road conditions and what alterations you can make to your bike that can make it safe for riding in colder weather.
So, do you really want to risk canceling your insurance in the event the sun shows itself mid-winter? While it may be tempting to cancel your insurance and have one less bill to worry about, getting rid of your insurance completely is not a smart move.
Smart Ways to Shop for Motorcycle Insurance
Planning ahead is the best way to be prepared before you start shopping around for a new policy. If you’ve canceled your bike insurance or you purchased a bike during the winter months, make sure you purchase the policy in advance. Many riders allow their policies to drop and then scramble to renew or purchase a new policy once they see a sunny day is in the forecast. It’s best to do your research and purchase a policy three to four weeks before sunny weather hits your neck of the woods. Your rate is going to be lower since you’ll prove you’re more responsible by purchasing a policy during the off-season. Additionally, insurance companies are known to give you a better rate for purchasing a policy in advance since it protects the carrier against fraud. A rider who purchases a policy ahead of time does not pose a risk of filing a claims accident for an accident that happened prior to the coverage.
The Low Premium Bait
When you’re shopping for a policy and comparing the costs of insurance plans, keep in mind that premiums will only be part of the equation. Usually, a plan with a lower premium will have a high deductible and will be missing key coverages, which could cost you big in the event of a serious claim. When you’re comparing different policies, set them down side by side and check out the coverage limits and the deductibles. You’ll notice that small differences on paper can have a huge impact on what you’ll end up having to pay if you have to file a claim. If you end up with coverage that’s seriously lacking and something happens to your motorcycle then you could end up being on the hook for thousands of dollars.
If you want coverage for your bike against loss or damage, then you’ll want comprehensive or collision coverage. This type of coverage will cover damages to your motorcycle in an accident that involves upset or collision, regardless of whether or not the other party is covered. Comprehensive coverage will cover the loss not caused by a collision, such as vandalism, fire, flood, or theft.
Some insurance companies will offer discounts for insuring multiple bikes with a single policy or by renewing your annual policy. Providers may also reward riders for being safe. For every consecutive year without an accident the carrier will drop the comprehensive deductible by as much as twenty-five percent or even all the way down to zero after being insured for a period of four or five years. Having a clean driving record will also help.
State Bike Laws
Know what your state riding laws are. The state you live in will play a part in your coverage. Some states may have a minimum coverage requirement for liability and some other laws that can have an impact on your choices. Because of this, it’s important to understand a state’s requirements. To learn more you can check with your local DMV to find out more about local riding laws. If you’re a new rider it can also be a great opportunity to find out about local helmet laws so you can determine what type of motorcycle helmet you should use. Some states will require full-face helmets, while others have more lax laws that allow you to wear any type of certified helmet. To learn more, click here to read my guide on the best motorcycle helmet brands, which includes information on safety ratings and more.
So should you cancel your motorcycle insurance in the winter? No. Doing so can end up costing you more in the end, especially if your insurance provider catches on that you’re canceling and renewing at the same time every year. Not only will you end up having to find a new carrier, but you may end up with a provider that has higher premiums. Additionally, if something happens to your bike when it’s not insured, such as it’s stolen, gets damaged while being stored in the garage, or you take it out on a random sunny day, then you’re out of luck. You’ll be forced to pay the costs of repairs out of pocket. Fortunately, these days most motorcycle insurance providers offer flexible plans and plenty of options that will allow you to retain some type of coverage year-round. Shopping around will be important in order to find the best deal and a policy that works for you and your budget.