Published: December 2014
When the temperatures start to dip, all but the hardiest motorcycle riders typically start the process of topping off their tanks, adding fuel stabilizer, and all the other tasks that go along with retiring a bike to the garage for the winter.
That's also when some riders start to wonder whether they can save a few dollars by temporarily cancelling insurance on their bikes.
But, should you drop insurance on a motorcycle that's in winter storage? Well, it may be tempting, but, if you give it some thought, you'll probably find that it's not the soundest practice. Here are some reasons why.
To begin, you have to be certain that your bike will remain in storage for the entire season. Even if your area is hit with unseasonably warm winter weather, if you cancel your insurance, you'd have to fight the impulse to take your bike out for a ride. Otherwise, you'd be out there without a policy to protect you against an accident or some other unfortunate event.
You also need to remember that your bike still faces risks when it's supposedly "safe and sound" in storage. Theft, fire, vandalism and storm damage are all possibilities. If you were to cancel your insurance, and something were to happen to your bike, you'd likely be left to pay the damages or the repair costs out of pocket.
Another important consideration: You may not actually realize any savings by cancelling your policy over the winter. Insurance companies vary, but some may take into account the typical riding season in your state when they price a policy (even if it's spread over a 12-month period). That means you may not actually receive a refund for canceling your winter coverage. Check with your insurance agent to determine if seasonal coverage options are available.
So, while there are likely good reasons to hang on to your policy over the winter months, is there anything you can do to realize some savings? Again, it'll depend on your insurance company, but you do have some options.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you may be able to purchase what's called a "lay-up" policy, which temporarily suspends all but the comprehensive coverage on your motorcycle insurance. Comprehensive coverage protects you against an event that's not related to a collision, such as theft, vandalism or other similar incident that might occur while the bike is in storage. Even if yours isn't one of these lay-up policies, you might find that you can make a similar, temporary reduction of coverages on your own policy. (Just be sure to reinstate all your coverages before you ride your bike again in the spring.)
Another option might be raising your deductible during the winter months, which would likely lower your premium. Make sure you understand the implications of such a decision, though. For instance, would you have enough cash on hand to pay the higher deductible if something were to happen? Your driving record, the number of miles you ride, and where you actually store your bike are other factors that can also impact your premium, the III says.
You might also consider taking a motorcycle safety course as a way to save on your policy. According to the III, some insurance companies may offer 10 to 15 percent discounts if you complete one.
So, talk it over with your agent. You may discover that there are, indeed, some untapped opportunities to help reduce the cost of your motorcycle policy — and that they not only help you out in the winter months, but year-round.