Insuring Custom Motorcycles

Do you own an expensive Harley, have custom parts or maybe a custom bike?  Have you given any thought to protecting its value in the event it’s damaged in an accident or stolen?  Without the right insurance company or special insurance coverage, your insurance company may not reimburse you for your motorcycle’s full value.

Most motorcycles are totaled in an accident. Loss due to fire or theft is not very common but you can see the probability of your motorcycle being stolen at the Motorcycle Theft & Recovery Report (Download the entire report on PDF).

When you purchase insurance, both you and your insurance company intend to return your motorcycle to its pre-accident condition after you’re involved in a crash.  That’s when the problem becomes apparent.  It is unlikely that you will agree as to what your motorcycle’s pre-accident and post-accident condition is.  When you look to sell your expensive Harley with aftermarket parts, you may find it difficult to sell with aftermarket parts.

The insurance industry sees aftermarket parts as a quality alternative to OEM parts; a way to keep insurance costs down (earn more money); and a way to keep insurance premiums down, but it is doubtful that you will care.  You are entitled to demand that your motorcycle be returned to its actual previous condition, but your insurance company may require you to share some of the cost.

Custom parts and custom motorcycles are an even bigger concern.  Progressive insurance generally allows only non-OEM parts for non-structural components on a stock vehicle, but Progressive may be a good choice if you added custom parts to your motorcycle.  Progressive says that $1,000 of Custom Parts and Equipment (CPE), which covers such things as custom paint, plating, exhausts and seats, is included in New York and you can purchase additional CPE coverage up to $5,000 in value.  If you have more than $5,000 of custom equipment, Progressive will sell you stated value (the best type of coverage) insurance covering your entire motorcycle for up to $40,000.  GEICO says that they offer up to 1/3 of the value of your motorcycle up to a maximum of only $6,500 for custom parts, hence GEICO is not a good choice for custom bikes.

If you have a Bourget or similar motorcycle worth more than $40,000, to adequately insure your custom motorcycle, you will probably have to buy coverage from Chubb Insurance Group, which I consider to be both the best and most expensive insurance company.  While Chubb is the most expensive insurance company, it sells stated value insurance for custom motorcycles and is almost always the choice to ensure high-value items.

Before you have a claim, take photographs of your motorcycle, including close-ups showing details of custom parts.  Keep receipts for all additional or custom parts and labor.  If you scan your receipts on your computer, make sure you keep a backup copy.

If you’re concerned about aftermarket parts being used on your motorcycle, make sure you ask your insurance company what their policy is and see if they can give it to you in writing.  If you have custom parts, make sure you purchase additional insurance coverage for custom parts or stated value insurance for your motorcycle.