Do I Need Motorcycle Insurance in California?

December 27, 2022 Posted In Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists are subject to the same insurance laws as other motorists. As a result, you need motorcycle insurance to legally operate a motorcycle in California. 

Do I Need Motorcycle Insurance in California?

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in California

Under current California financial responsibility laws, motorcycle riders must carry minimum liability insurance of:

  • $15,000 for the death or injury to one person;
  • $30,000 for the death or injury to multiple people from one accident; and,
  • $5,000 in property damage coverage.

Liability insurance will pay for the damage and any injuries you cause in an accident. However, it will not protect you. Therefore, many motorcyclists purchase additional optional forms of motorcycle insurance. 

Penalties for Riding a Motorcycle Uninsured

Motorcyclists riding without insurance subject themselves to penalties if they are caught. The first offense is a fine between $100 to $200, and second offenses are between $200 and $500. 

While a $100 fine does not sound like much of a repercussion, with additional penalties and fees, the fine can end up costing you closer to $450. Additionally, your motorcycle may be impounded and towed away. If an officer chooses to do so, you will not be able to retrieve  it until you purchase insurance and can provide proof of coverage, as well as pay all towing and storage fees, which can be substantial.

If you are involved in a Riverside motorcycle accident without valid insurance or a self-insurance certificate, your license can be suspended for up to four years. 

What Happens When a Motorcycle Accident Claim Exceeds Liability Policy Limits?

If you are at fault for a motorcycle accident and the other party’s damages exceed your liability policy limits, one of two things will usually happen. (1) You will have to voluntarily pay for the difference out-of-pocket, or (2) the injured party will file a lawsuit against you to recover the exceeding costs. If the other party receives a judgment against you and you fail to pay, a lien can be filed against you and your assets. If that were to happen, you would need to pay the judgment in full or set up a payment plan so that your wages are not garnished or your assets seized. As a result, many motorcyclists choose to purchase policies with higher liability coverage limits than the minimum amounts required by California law. 

Optional Insurance Coverage in California

Motorcyclists have the option of purchasing additional coverage, such as the following: 

  • Collision: This type of insurance will cover you after an accident, no matter who is at fault. 
  • Comprehensive: This coverage pays for damage to your motorcycle caused by non-collision circumstances, such as theft or a weather-related event. 
  • Medical Payments: Provides payment for your medical expenses resulting from a collision. 
  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If you need a rental vehicle while waiting for your motorcycle to be repaired or for payment for its replacement, this coverage will pay for it. 
  • Loan/Lease Payoff: Also referred to as gap coverage, which can pay the difference between the amount you still owe on a loan or lease and the motorcycle’s cash value. 
  • Roadside Assistance: If you need your motorcycle towed after an accident, your insurer will send a tow truck if you have roadside assistance added to your policy.  
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