Am I covered if my friend wrecks my motorcycle?
Last updated: December 2019
Your motorcycle insurance policy may help pay for repairs, medical expenses or other property damage if you loan your bike to a friend and they wreck it. What's covered depends on the type of coverage you have on your policy. And, if your friend has motorcycle insurance, their policy may be tapped to help cover costs resulting from the crash.
Motorcycle coverage after a wreck
Motorcycle owners in most states are required to have liability coverage. If your friend injures another person or damages someone else's property while driving your bike, your liability coverage may help pay for related expenses. Your liability coverage won't pay for your friend's medical bills if he's at fault for the crash.
Medical payments coverage may help cover your friend's medical bills if they're injured in a wreck while riding your bike. Medical payments is an optional coverage.
Collision coverage may help pay to repair your bike if your friend wrecks it. Collision coverage is optional, unless you're leasing or financing your bike.
Each coverage on your motorcycle policy has its own separate coverage limit. A limit is the maximum amount your insurer will pay for a covered claim. Collision coverage also has a deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket toward a covered claim. You select your deductible when you purchase collision coverage.
Will my friend's insurance cover costs if they crash my motorcycle?
Even when your motorcycle insurance policy covers other riders, you might discover that there are some added considerations. For instance, what if the accident resulted in damage that exceeds your coverage limits?
If your friend had their own motorcycle insurance, it may kick in as a secondary policy to help close that gap, says Robert Passmore, a senior director with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
But, you have to compare the two policies to know for sure. Insurance policies typically have language that explains how they will provide coverage when there are multiple policies and policyholders involved in an accident, Passmore says. They may indicate whether it should serve as the primary insurance on a claim, or whether it should simply come in as a secondary policy.
"That [language] will control who's first in line and who's second," Passmore explains. But remember, some insurers may not cover physical damage to borrowed (non-owned) motorcycles. Even if the friend has a motorcycle policy, it might not provide any coverage for your bike. It's a good idea to read your own motorcycle insurance policy and check with your agent so you understand the coverage you have before you loan your bike to another rider.
Another thing to keep in mind: Custom equipment you've installed on your bike typically isn't covered by your friend's insurance. So, if you let someone else borrow your bike and they wreck it, their motorcycle insurance policy likely wouldn't cover damage to things like custom paint, custom chrome, sound systems, roll bars or after-market windshields. (Keep in mind that your own motorcycle insurance policy should have custom parts and equipment coverage for any aftermarket updates you've made to your bike. Standard collision and comprehensive coverages do not typically include custom parts or accessories.)
Of course, you may find that both policies are making the same assertion â€” they're both indicating that they should come in as the primary insurance on the claim, or, likewise, the second. In that case, the costs of the accident are typically divided, with both policies contributing, Passmore says.
And what if there is no other policy available to make up the gap? For example, what if your friend does not have motorcycle insurance, or your friend has a policy that does not cover borrowed vehicles? Well, says Passmore, you may find yourself in a situation where you're personally responsible for the rest of the costs.
"That's why you want to think long and hard before you ever let somebody use your motorcycle." If you have any questions about what would be covered by your motorcycle insurance, talk to your insurance provider.