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Does motorcycle insurance cover theft?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Motorcycles are much more vulnerable to thieves than cars. Since bikes don’t have secure interiors, it’s relatively easy for thieves to quickly snatch them. Oftentimes, motorcycle thieves steal bikes and take them to chop shops, where the bikes are stripped of parts and sold off in pieces. According to the Insurance information Institute, the most-stolen motorcycles by make include Harley Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. Cities most prone to motorcycle theft include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.

Motorcycle insurance protects your assets when you have a costly road accident on your motorcycle. Different types of coverage serve to help pay the expenses of other drivers when you’re at fault for an accident and or help pay to repair or replace your bike. 

You can take several steps to avoid paying the replacement cost for a stolen motorcycle, including parking it in a secure location, equipping it with anti-theft devices and purchasing the proper type of motorcycle coverage.

Does insurance cover motorcycle theft?

Motorcycle insurance can cover the cost to repair or replace your motorcycle following an accident and mitigate financial obligations when you’re at fault for a crash. State laws require all drivers, including bikers, to carry certain types and levels of insurance. 

Requirements vary by state, but financial responsibility laws usually require motorcycle owners to carry the same coverages – and levels of coverage – as car owners. Typical motorcycle coverages include:

  • Bodily injury liability: Required by most states, bodily injury liability coverage pays the medical expenses of another motorist and his passengers when you cause a road accident. States vary in how much bodily injury liability you must purchase. For example, California bikers must carry at least $15,000 to cover the medical bills of one person, in one accident, and $30,000 to cover multiple casualties.
  • Property damage liability: States also require motorists to carry property damage liability coverage, which pays to repair or replace another driver’s vehicle when you cause an accident, or to repair or replace other types of property, like fences and mailboxes. Property damage liability only covers the property of others and won’t pay to repair or replace your motorcycle.
  • Collision: While not required by law, lenders typically require collision insurance for financed bikes. Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your motorcycle when it’s damaged in a road accident. Typically, collision coverage will only pay the depreciated value of a totaled bike.
  • Comprehensive: If a thief steals your bike, or it’s damaged in a non-collision incident, comprehensive coverage will pay to repair or replace it. Comprehensive coverage covers losses caused by storms, fires or vandalism, but won’t cover your bike if you crash it on the highway. This type of coverage isn’t required by law, but if you finance your motorcycle, the lender will likely require you to buy it. Some comprehensive policies also cover custom parts, like sidecars or custom paint jobs, along with helmets and protective body gear.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist: Some states require all drivers to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which helps pay to repair or replace your bike and pay the medical expenses of you and your passenger when another driver with no insurance or insufficient insurance causes a road accident.
  • Personal injury protection: A few states require all drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP). This type of coverage pays the medical expenses of you and your passenger — regardless of who was at fault for a traffic accident. PIP can also help pay funeral expenses and lost wages if you’re unable to work while recuperating after a crash.

What to do if you’re a victim of motorcycle theft

Before you fall victim to motorcycle theft, ensure you have the right coverage to pay for the loss. Remember, only comprehensive coverage will pay to replace a stolen bike. It’s also a good practice to review your policy’s exclusions to find out what could lead to a claim denial. 

For example, some providers require you to report a bike stolen to the police and the insurer within a certain timeframe. If you’re the victim of motorcycle theft, follow these steps for a speedy resolution:

Step One – Survey your neighborhood

If your bike doesn’t have any anti-theft devices, a thief might try to make off with it by rolling it away. Sometimes, thieves get tired and give up, abandoning the motorcycle close to the location from which it was taken. 

Before contacting the police or insurance company, look for the bike in your neighborhood. While surveying the area, ask neighbors if they saw the theft occur and inquire about using security footage from neighbors’ and businesses’ cameras for evidence in an investigation.

Step Two – Call the police

If you don’t find your bike in the neighborhood, call the police and file a stolen motorcycle report. An officer may come to the location of the theft, or you may have to file a report at a police station. If you have any evidence, like surveillance footage, include it in your police report, along with a photograph of the bike and any pertinent details about custom or noteworthy identifiers.

Step Three – Notify your insurance company

If you have comprehensive insurance that covers theft, contact your insurance company to file a claim. And, if your bike is financed, be sure to notify the lender or loan servicing company. Always file a police report first, because your insurance company and lender will ask for a copy.

Step Four – Ask for help on the internet

Creating posts about the theft on all your social media accounts, including photos of the bike and information about the location of the theft may help in the recovery process. Share the posts with motorcycle groups or associations in your area. Search the internet to find motorcycle theft registries in your area and create posts on all you find.

Step Five – Continue to search

Car and motorcycle thieves often operate in or near their own neighborhoods. In the days following the theft, continue to survey your area. If you locate the bike, contact the police immediately to conduct the recovery; don’t attempt to retrieve it on your own.

Filing a motorcycle theft claim

The claims filing process varies among insurers. Some providers allow you to file a claim online or through a mobile app, while others mandate you contact your local agent or call a claims center. Before contacting the insurer, collect supporting evidence you’ll need to file with the claim, such as the police report, photos of the bike and surveillance footage of the theft.

Your insurance company will have information about your motorcycle on file but will likely ask you to verify information about its make and model. The insurer will need to know the time and location of the theft, if anyone witnessed the theft and if the theft also included personal property, such as helmets or locks. The insurer may also ask how the thief stole the motorcycle. Did she use the key to start it, roll it away from the scene or place it in another vehicle?

Motorcycle theft claims usually take 30 days or less to process. However, settlement times can vary, depending on the complexity of the investigation. Typically, the insurer will settle the claim for the actual cash value of the bike; its depreciated value, minus your deductible. If you haven’t made all payments to a lender, the settlement amount may not provide enough money to pay off the loan. Unless you have gap insurance, you’ll have to pay back the lender from your own funds.

If the police recover your stolen bike after the insurance company settles the claim, you’ll have no right to take possession of it because the insurer will now have rightful ownership. However, the provider may offer to sell the bike back to you. If the bike returns severely damaged, the insurance company may allow you to keep it.

How to prevent motorcycle theft

Securing your bike is the best way to prevent theft, and consequently, having to file a theft insurance claim. Follow a few basic tips to make your motorcycle less accessible to thieves:

  • Park your bike in a secure indoor location. If you park your motorcycle in a garage, hide it behind a large object such as a shelf or vehicle to make it less visible when you open the garage door. Consider embedding a steel ground anchor in your garage, which you can use to chain your bike to the floor. Add motion lights in the garage and install steel bars on garage windows for extra security.
  • If your home has a video surveillance system, park your bike in view of a camera.
  • If you must park your bike outside, secure it to a strong stationary object with a chain and lock. Chaining the bike to a steel pole embedded in concrete provides the best security. When parking a motorcycle overnight, cover it with a fitted cover to make it more difficult for a thief to identify its make and model.
  • Equip your motorcycle with anti-theft devices.
  • Lock the bike’s ignition when you turn it off.
  • When you go out for a group ride, always park your motorcycles together.
  • Never allow a stranger to ride your bike solo.

Motorcycle insurance discounts and anti-theft devices

Discounts

Insurers offer various discounts to help lower your motorcycle insurance premium. Geico offers bikers:

  • Up to a 10% discount for senior policyholders.
  • Up to a 10% discount for insuring multiple bikes.
  • Up to a 20% discount for Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors.

Allstate’s motorcycle insurance discounts include:

  • Up to a 10% discount for bikers who don’t have an at-fault accident for five years.
  • Up to a 30% discount for bundling your motorcycle policy with an auto or home policy.
  • Up to a 10% discount on liability coverage for members of qualified motorcycle associations.

Esurance offers motorcycle insurance discounts when you:

  • Equip your bike with a recovery device.
  • Earn a motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license.
  • Join an approved motorcycle association.

Anti-theft Devices

The most common type of motorcycle theft involves thieves who pick up a bike and make off with it in a truck or van. Installing and using anti-theft devices is a great way to thwart motorcycle theft. Popular devices include:

  • Wheel disc brake locks, which prevent the motorcycle from rolling.
  • Chains with locks for securing a motorcycle to a steel pole or ground anchor.
  • Tracking devices that enable the owner or police to locate a stolen bike using GPS.
  • Alarm systems that sound when a thief moves a motorcycle.
  • Customizations that make a bike more recognizable.
  • Fitted covers to mask a motorcycle’s make and model.
  • Hidden kill switches that prevent thieves from starting a bike.

The takeaway

  • Most insurers cover motorcycle theft under comprehensive coverage.
  • Preventing bike theft is the best way to avoid filing a motorcycle theft claim.
  • Anti-theft devices are numerous and may help deter thieves.

Most insurers cover motorcycle theft under comprehensive coverage. But, if you don’t purchase comprehensive coverage, you may be out of luck when a bike thief occurs. If a thief steals your motorcycle, contacting the police to file a report and notifying your insurance company to file a claim should be your first priorities.

You can take several steps to ensure your bike stays safe and sound. It’s best to park your bike indoors, in a secure space such as a garage. Equipping your bike with anti-theft devices such as alarm systems, disc locks and tracking devices can prevent theft, even just by the presence of the devices.

Michael Evans

Michael is an insurance writer for Coverage.com. He began writing professionally in the 1990s while working for the world’s first online mortgage broker, and today specializes in education, finance and retiring abroad. Michael has contributed to numerous digital and print publications, including Bankrate, Fox Business, International Living and Yahoo Finance, and is the author of Escape to Colombia, 1st Edition, a comprehensive guide to retiring to Colombia.

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