Monday, 12 April 2010

Visitor Motorcycle Insurance for the USA

One of the things you will need to arrange for any motorcycle trip in the USA is temporary motorcycle insurance.

If you are renting a bike, this will almost certainly be arranged on your behalf by the organisation you are renting the bike from. This was certainly the case in 2009 when a group of us rented bikes from EagleRider, one of the largest rental companies in the US. HOG Fly & Ride does the same. Both have standard arrangements and standard plans for insurance and it is really simple – the renter does all the work and you ask the right questions, sign the forms and pay your money. Done.

If like me you are taking your own motorcycle to the US, then putting insurance in place is slightly more complicated. Finding insurance companies that do this isn’t easy, but I found one that specialises in this type of insurance. They are called Motorcycle Express and essentially the cater for foreign nationals touring in the United States and Canada.

They can arrange different types of policy....

.... Motorcycle shipping
.... Motorcycle insurance
.... Roadside Assistance and emergency towing
.... Travel medical insurance
.... Trip cancellation insurance
.... Emergency medical evacuation (ambulances etc)
.... Insurance in other countries

They have an online system that is fairly easy to use, but you do need to read what they say carefully. I am not talking here about the small print, but the large print! The issue here is that the words and terminology used by US insurance companies are quite different from similar firms here in the UK and probably elsewhere as well. I went through the whole process of getting an online quote and then realised (thanks to my American wife) that I had mis-understood a few things.

In the UK, the main part of a motorcycle insurance quote is centred around covering any damage to your bike caused by an accident, or theft or fire. This is different with Motorcycle Express in that the quote puts Bodily Injury, Property Damage and Uninsured Motorists as their first priorities. This is not a problem, but just be aware that the US has different terminology to other countries and if you are not sure, then ask them what each type of cover is for. I nearly ended up with an insurance policy that didn’t cover my bike!

I also took out their Roadside Assistance and emergency towing policy. As I have a Harley, I also already have the Harley roadside assistance service called HOG Assistance and I am told this covers me when I am in the USA. However, in some of the more remote parts of the US, I want to be able to get help quickly, so being a cautious type, I took out the additional policy.

Of course, unlike Europe, nearly all medical services in the USA need to be paid for, so taking out travel medical insurance is an absolute must. I certainly did. It isn’t cheap.

Overall the costs of these insurances is expensive. These are the ball park figures for my 5 months trip....

Motorcycle insurance, including bodily injury, property damage etc. $1200
Travel medical insurance (includes evacuation) $975
Roadside assistance and towing – about $50

Here is a link to the Motorcycle Express website


Arizona Harley Dude said...

Well Gary I hope you just wasted your money...meaning you never have to use the protection purchased. Insurance is a necessary evil of life and being a captive audience gives these companies license to steal. You'll pay 245% of what I pay (just for the bike) for a year for the 5 months which seems wrong. But, that is the cost a guy must pay for such a great adventure.

mq01 said...

thankfully you were able to realize what was needed. its too bad its so expensive though... the world should make tourism easier/cheaper :)

Chris Luhman said...

Wow your insurance is expensive! Price gouging foreigners :( For four of my bikes full coverage for 12 months with $500k limits, is only $600!

The travel medical is a good idea. I have medical coverage, but I like the they fly me home or they fly my wife to me if I can't be moved bit that travel provides.

FLHX_Dave said...

whoa! This trip already sounds hella' expensive...well, at least by my standards anyway.

Gonna go check out a GoPro today...

Gary France said...

AHD – I thought it was expensive when compared to what I pay over here, but then the key words are those that you mentioned – captive audience. With so little choice about where to go, us foreigners have almost nowhere else to go. I like the sentiment though – I hope I never need to use it as well....

Mq01 – I got there in the end. Somebody once said that the British and Americans are nearly the same people, separated only by a common language!

Chris – travel medical insurance is a no brainer if visiting the USA. Over here, accidents and emergencies are free to everybody including visitors to the UK. Well, free in the sense that we all pay for this through our taxes, but at least we don’t have to have additional medical insurance. Some choose to, but most just stick to what is called the National Health Scheme (or NHS) over here. I have been following what Obama has been trying to put in place in the US with interest and I have seen it has caused quite a division of thought about its rights and wrongs. Now, Mr Obama, can you sort out motorcycle insurance for tourists....?

Dave – I sorta knew the insurance part was going to be expensive, so luckily I had budgeted for those sorts of figures based upon what we paid last year on our two week trip to California. It still hurts though. Good luck with checking out the GoPro. Just allow extra costs for having to buy additional (non GoPro) mounts to fix it to your bike.

bobskoot said...


I go across the USA border often so I purchased a policy for unlimited trips of 10 day durations. I used to purchase per trip but it was more cost effective to go for a yearly plan, that way I don't have to preplan my trips and can go on the spur of the moment. We have Triple A here called BCAA and it is linked to AAA in the USA. I purchased M/C premium coverage and I also have private M/C insurance, so I believe that it will cover shipping the bike home in case of problems. You can go bankrupt in the USA if you don't have the coverage.

Gary, M/C insurance is expensive here in BC. At least $1,000 per yr per bike and that does not even cover theft which is another 10% of the declared value of the bike. Most here only have comprehensive, specified perils and Liability. With my two bikes and two cars I am up to $5,000 per year, plus I have to pay for extended medical coverage while out of the country when I cross the US border. I think your costs are reasonable, in my mind.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Canajun said...

I agree with Bob. By Canadian standards your insurance costs are not unreasonable. In Ontario, full coverage motorcycle insurance will easily run you $1,000 and up - and you have to pay for a full year even though we only have about 6 months of good riding. If you have a "sportsbike", expect it to double.

Rick said...

It seems like you do get around. I've just peeked at your blog, but have you been to Oregon? We have the best roads for riding here.

Gary France said...

Bob – wow, your vehicle insurance is expensive. I expected my USA temporary tourist insurance to be a bit over the top, but yours is bad. If you didn’t have to pay that much you could get a new pair of crocs every few months! $5,000 per year for all your vehicles– that must hurt. In the UK my Harley Road King is £290 per year or about $450 and that is unlimited mileage, all risks, comprehensive, fire and theft. A typical car insurance for me is slightly less. Why is Canadian insurance so expensive – surely it cannot be the sliding about on all that snow?

Canajun – I suspect you, Bob and other Canadians feel a little aggrieved at these costs, especially as it is really only for 6 months. In the UK we can lower vehicle insurance costs by limiting the amount of miles we do in a year. That sounds like it would be something good for you guys in Canada.

Rick – Thanks for peeking at my blog. No, I have never been to Orgeon, even though my wife was raised near Portland. I hope to put right this error soon though! I peeked at yours too – nice doodles!