Sunday, 2 March 2014

Motorcycle Insurance

I've been frustrated with motorcycle insurance and the blanket approach it takes to covering a bike, even one you're not riding.  When I'm paying the same for a new car as I am for a seven year old bike that I use for only a few thousand kilometres a year, usually in very good road conditions, it strikes me as unfair.  The car does about five times as many kilometres and can do much more damage in a crash.  It also has to drive through snow storms and the other perils of winter driving while my bike sits in the garage undergoing a full maintenance overhaul.

Maintained to within an inch of its life and spending
the most dangerous driving time of the year in a garage.
Speaking of maintenance, the bike sees a heck of a lot more of it that the car does, especially in the winter.  The bike is checked before each ride and sees weekly maintenance and checks on a larger scale.  The bike is a cherished tool of self expression, the car is an appliance.

When I called up the insurance company I've been with for over twenty years and asked for a quote they said they wouldn't even consider me, but told me to come back in a few years.  Nice, eh?

I finally got in touch with RidersPlus, who specialize in bikes.  It wasn't cheap, but they got me sorted out quickly.  My first bike isn't a big cc monster, I tried to be 
One of these things is not like
the other, though both are the
same in the eyes of insurance
sensible with my first ride and only considered mid-displacement machines.  Having insured a lot of cars, I knew what could happen between a Mustang and a Crown Vic, yet in motorcycle terms these two vehicles would be considered equal simply because they have the same displacement.  

I was on the verge of getting a KLR (a big, single cylinder on/off road bike) when I came across the Ninja.  It has almost identical displacement though almost nothing else in common with the KLR.  One is a sport bike for the road, the other is an all terrain bike that rides on the road when needed.  The Ninja is fast and agile, the KLR sturdy and stable.  With such different intentions and abilities, I expected the Ninja to be a much more expensive option, but was shocked to be quoted the same price.

What is at the bottom of my insurance despair is that a second bike costs me pretty much the same as the first. At the Toronto Motorcycle Show last weekend I stopped by RidersPlus again and had a chat.  The guy there confirmed that your insurance does in fact drop quite significantly over the first few years of riding and by my forth or fifth year I'd be able to insure two bikes for basically what I'm paying for one now.

Honda CB500X, a nice fit, multi-purpose
machine that is easy on insurance
In the short term if I want to minimize insurance costs while I'm learning to ride, a low displacement bike is the key.  I sat on the Honda CB500X at the show.  A nice, tall bike that could handle a wider range of duties than the road focused Ninja.  I'd be giving up a bit of power, but even a 500cc bike still has a much better power to weight ratio than most cars.

Another option is to dig up an older enduro bike, like the Suzuki DRZ-400.  This would be a go-anywhere bike that I'd get used and not worry about tipping over occasionally.  Being an even lower cc bike, it would be even cheaper on insurance.


Some interesting Stats-Canada vehicle collision statistics - very easy to look through.  It shows a downward trend in accidents, injuries and deaths over the past twenty years.  Glad to see my insurance is coming down with it.

Forbes Article: The most dangerous time to drive - A Saturday in August in an urban environment.  It turns out the most dangerous places to drive are where there are a lot of other people - places most bikers avoid like the plague.