Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance in California?

California requires motorists to carry minimum amounts of liability coverage to register and ride their bikes in the state. Learn more here!
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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Motorcyclists in California need to carry a
motorcycle insurance
policy that includes at least $15,000 in bodily injury per person, $30,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $5,000 in property damage per accident—but you may want more insurance coverage to protect yourself and your bike.
  • Motorcycle insurance is required to register your bike with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and ride it in the state.
  • California’s motorcycle insurance requirements are identical to the state’s auto insurance requirements but typically cost less.
  • Markel, GEICO, Progressive, and Dairyland offer some of the best motorcycle insurance options for California motorcycle riders.

Do you need motorcycle insurance in California?

Yes. You’ll need to purchase
California motorcycle insurance
to legally register and ride your bike in the state. Here’s what you need:
These are the same amounts of coverage that drivers need to carry on their auto insurance policy according to
California car insurance laws
. Note that you must buy a separate policy for your motorcycle—your state-mandated car insurance will not extend to your bike.

Optional motorcycle coverage to consider

Here are some popular coverage options that can offer greater protection than basic liability insurance:
  • Collision coverage
    : Pays for your damages after an accident on your bike, regardless of fault
  • Comprehensive coverage
    : Protects your bike against non-collision damages like those caused by severe weather, theft, vandalism, and more
  • Medical payments coverage (MedPay)
    : Supplements your health insurance to cover medical bills for any personal injuries sustained in an accident for you and your passengers
  • Uninsured motorist coverage
    : Provides coverage if you’re in an accident caused by another driver who lacks the required liability insurance or a sufficient enough amount to cover the total of your expenses
  • Roadside assistance
    : Covers the cost to tow your bike after a breakdown and sometimes certain incidental costs like food and lodging if you’re far from home
  • Total loss coverage: Protects the value of a new bike if it’s deemed a total loss, usually within its first year of usage

What happens if you’re in a motorcycle accident without insurance?

If you’re in an
at-fault accident without insurance
, you’ll be liable for covering property damage costs and medical bills for any victims out of your own pocket. 
You’ll also face hefty penalties for driving without insurance in California, including the following:
  • $360 to $1,800 in fines and penalty assessment fees, depending on
  • Mandatory one-year suspension of your California motorcycle license
  • SR-22 insurance
    requirements for license reinstatement
  • Vehicle impoundment and jail time, depending on the severity of the accident and your history of previous offenses
Expect to face the penalties listed above even if you’re in a
no-fault accident
caused by another driver. 
California law prevents uninsured motorists from claiming non-economic damages from another driver’s liability coverage. But uninsured motorists can still get a payout for direct economic damages to the vehicle and medical costs for injuries.
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Where to buy motorcycle insurance in California

Some of the best motorcycle insurance companies for California drivers include Markel,
GEICO
,
Progressive
, and Dairyland. Your motorcycle insurance quotes will vary based on unique factors like the following:
  • The type of motorcycle you drive
  • Your driving record
  • Where you live
  • Your age and experience level
While companies like Markel and GEICO typically offer the most competitive insurance rates for California motorcycle coverage, they may not offer the best rates for you. 
Compare quotes from multiple insurance providers to make sure you’re getting the best premium for your preferred level of coverage.
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FAQs

You need the proper endorsement on your California driver’s license to legally operate a motorcycle in the state. 
California offers two bike endorsements: M1 and M2. The M2 endorsement authorizes you to operate mopeds and other motorized bikes, while the M1 endorsement is required to operate a motorcycle.
California motorcycle insurance costs $715 per year on average, which is $204 more than the national average. Your exact costs will depend on factors like your age, experience, driving record, the type of motorcycle you drive, discount eligibility, and more.
The requirements for motorcycle insurance coverage also extend to scooters, mopeds, sport bikes, and touring bikes.
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