Motorcycle Insurance: 5 Things You (Maybe) Didn’t Know It Covered

If you ride a motorcycle, there are many good reasons to get motorcycle insurance. The biggie: most (though not all) states require at least bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. And, of course, it’s always smart to have protection in case of an accident or theft.

But, like the bike itself, motorcycle insurance can be a versatile beast. And like a stunt rider, it can sometimes leave you saying, “I didn’t know it could do that!” Hop in the sidecar while we take you through some surprising facts about motorcycle coverage.

1. You can insure almost any type of motorcycle

Think you can’t insure your bike because it’s been customized from end to end or it’s a classic from the ‘50s? Not so. Through Esurance, you can get coverage for 99 percent of the bikes on the road — cruisers, sport bikes, modified bikes, antiques, and even bikes built from a kit.

2. You can get coverage for your snowmobile, scooter, ATV — even your Segway or golf cart

“But wait, those aren’t motorcycles!” Well spotted, my friend. Nonetheless, many insurers (including Esurance) cover leisure vehicles under their motorcycle policies in certain states. Good thing, too, since many states require liability coverage for ATVs, snowmobiles, mopeds, and such — and most car insurance or homeowners policies offer little or no protection for leisure vehicles.

Even vehicles you might not think about insuring, like golf carts and Segways, are often covered by motorcycle insurance.

Why would you want insurance for a golf cart? What’s next, slice insurance? According to a recent study, golf cart injuries jumped 132 percent between 1990 and 2006. Golf carts aren’t just being used on the links — they’re also being driven more and more frequently on streets and trails, and they don’t have seat belts, stability controls, or doors. So liability insurance and comprehensive coverage (not to mention medical payments coverage) is a good idea. (Taking it slow is an even better idea.)

Segways can also be surprisingly dangerous. In fact, a fall from a Segway is more likely to warrant a hospital admission than being struck by a car while on foot. So here again, medical payments coverage is worth considering.

Find out the proper way to turn a Segway >

3. Motorcycle insurance can help keep your holiday from going kaput

Most insurers offer the same type of protections for motorcycles as they do for cars: property damage and bodily injury liability, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and medical payments coverage.

But there are a range of other coverages that can be especially useful on road trips. Towing and labor coverage helps pay the costs if your motorcycle or snowmobile breaks down. Trip interruption coverage will help pay for lodging, food, and transportation if you get stranded. And if you rent a bike or recreation vehicle during your vacation, your collision and comprehensive coverage will likely protect you for that too.

4. Motorcycle insurance can cover your protective gear  

Along with your vehicle itself, you can get coverage for the stuff you need to ride it safely. Items like helmets, riding leathers, and snowmobile gloves don’t come cheap, but if something happens to your gear, your motorcycle insurance can help replace it.

5. You can get a discount just for being a homeowner

Depending on where you live, Esurance offers a multitude of ways to get discounts on motorcycle insurance: owning a home, taking a safety course, being a careful rider, and insuring another vehicle along with your bike (just to name a few).

Like the best roads for riding, life is full of twists and turns. But, with the right motorcycle coverage, you’ll be ready for almost anything that comes your way.

Related posts

Get answers to your other motorcycle insurance questions
Stay safer on the road with these motorcycle safety tips
Find out which states are the most motorcycle-friendly

Does Music Make You an Unsafe Driver?

Music and driving have gone together since the first car radio was introduced around 1930. What would a road trip be without tunes?

But, with so much talk about distracted driving, it might be time to reexamine this relationship. Studies have shown that having a phone conversation while driving is highly distracting, and we all know texting while driving is even worse. So listening to music must be distracting too, right?

Or is it?

Several studies have been done on this subject, and the results vary considerably.

Conclusion #1: Music you like is more distracting.

A recent Israeli study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that teen drivers who listened to their preferred music made more driving errors. The 85 novice drivers each took 6 challenging road trips for approximately 40 minutes with an instructor. Music was played on 4 of the trips: 2 trips used songs from the driver’s own playlist, and 2 played a special mix of light jazz, soft rock, and easy listening designed by the researchers to enhance driver safety. The remaining 2 trips didn’t have any music.

When driving to their playlist, 98 percent of the drivers made serious mistakes (such as speeding, tailgating, or driving one-handed) versus 92 percent who made similar mistakes without music. Listening to the safe-driving music, however, decreased the rate of mistakes by 20 percent.

The researchers speculate that drivers listen more actively when they enjoy the music, which may cause them to pay less attention to the road.

Conclusion #2: Music actually improves concentration.

A Dutch study found that listening to music had no ill effect on driving ability. The drivers in the study, all between the ages of 19 and 25, were asked to make playlists of familiar songs they liked. That music was played as the subjects drove on a simulated road for 30 minutes in predictable, monotonous traffic. The results: they had no trouble following the car ahead of them, and they actually responded to changes in the lead car’s speed better than those who drove in silence. The music seemed to enhance the drivers’ energy and alertness. The study’s author was careful to note, however, that under stressful conditions, music might have a different effect.

Conclusion #3: It’s the volume that matters.

A study conducted by Memorial University in Newfoundland found that, no matter what kind of music was played, drivers’ reactions were slower when the volume was high. At 95 decibels (as loud as a power lawnmower), the time needed to make decisions increased by 20 percent.

Conclusion #4: The song search is the issue.

Once again, technology is to blame. According to research conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scrolling through playlists on an MP3 player can impair driving performance. When drivers searched lists of 580 songs, they looked away from the road more often and for longer periods (over 2 seconds) when compared with shorter playlists. Aftermarket MP3 controllers intended to decrease distraction were not helpful — in fact, they actually lengthened the amount of time the drivers’ eyes were off the road.

Our conclusion …

Based on this conflicting data, we can’t say for sure whether music causes distraction behind the wheel or not. But, as with most things, common sense can make up for a lot of uncertainty. Any device that causes you to glance away from the road for several seconds should be avoided. And whether it impairs driving or not, excessively loud music can prevent you from hearing sirens or horns.

On the other hand, some technological advances for the car can actually help distracted driving. Here’s a few more need-to-know facts about staying safe and alert on the road.


Optional Coverages: He Said, She Said

My husband was rear-ended a few weeks ago. Thankfully, everyone was okay, but his car was in the shop for over a week. With no rental car coverage, he was forced to borrow my car (which he was nice enough to detail afterward).

The inconvenience gave me reason to log into our car insurance policy and reconsider our coverages, especially our optional coverages. I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t done this earlier. Before meeting me, my husband’s insurance philosophy was, “If it costs extra, I don’t want it.” But as someone who knows a thing or 2 about insurance, I have a very different philosophy: “Protect, protect, protect.”

Are optional coverages worth the extra cost?

This is the first question I asked myself as I examined our policy. Optional coverages vary by state, but there are a few common ones worth discussing.

Comprehensive and collision coverage

My husband’s take: My car is financed so I have to buy them.

My take: Yes, we do need them since his car is financed, but there’s more to these (somewhat) optional coverages than necessity. Unless you can afford to repair or replace your car if you have an accident or your car gets pummeled by hail, these coverages come in pretty handy — especially if you have a low deductible. In fact, I just had a windshield nick repaired and it didn’t cost me a cent.

Find out what else these 2 coverages can do >

Medical payments coverage

My husband’s take: We have health insurance, so this coverage is redundant.

My take: Medical payments coverage pays for more than just your medical bills. It also pays for your passengers’ medical expenses if they’re hurt while you’re behind the wheel. Plus, if you don’t have enough health insurance, medical payments will kick in to help cover the rest (and it’ll pay for stuff like dental care and extended nursing services or hospitalization while you’re rehabilitating).

Read up on medical payments coverage >

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

My husband’s take: Probably a good thing to have, but I’m not going to bother with high limits.

My take: Many states actually make this coverage mandatory. In California, where we live, however, it’s an optional coverage and one I can’t imagine going without. As of 2011, 1 out of every 7 drivers was uninsured. And many who are insured choose the minimum state limits, which are often not enough to cover expenses after an accident. If I get hit, I don’t want to be on the hook for someone else’s irresponsibility. You can buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for both bodily injury and property damage. I selected the same limits as our bodily injury and property damage coverages because I don’t want an accident (especially one that’s not my fault) to put me at financial risk.

Learn more about protecting yourself from uninsured drivers >

Rental car coverage

My husband’s take: Why rent when I can borrow your car?

My take: Well, in this instance, he happens to be right. We live near a train station, he’s an avid bicyclist, and, if we schedule it out, we can get by with one car temporarily. But if you don’t have public transportation, rock solid thighs, or a generous spouse at your disposal, this coverage is worth considering. For just a few extra dollars a month, it could pay for you to get around if your car’s going to be in the shop for a while. In some states, Esurance offers CarMatch Rental Coverage®, which provides a rental car that’s comparable to your own vehicle.

Emergency road service coverage

My husband’s take: It’s inexpensive and worth every penny.

My take: Agreed. While I technically know how to change a flat tire and cool my overheating engine, I’m a writer, not a mechanic, so I’d rather leave these things to the professionals. Of course, if you already have a roadside service like AAA, this coverage is probably unnecessary.

See how emergency road coverage can help you out of a pinch >

If you’re trying to figure out which optional coverages you need or how high your limits should be, check out our Coverage Counselor®. Answer just a few questions and it’ll help you select the right coverage for you based on your input. It certainly came in handy for me!

Got more questions? Get more details on car wear and tear, what to know about auto insurance pricing.


8 Things You Don’t Want to Miss While Apartment Hunting

You walk into a rental you’re particularly interested in — it’s bigger than a closet, the roof isn’t caving in, and it’s in a great neighborhood close to your favorite shops. When do you move in, right? Well, not so fast … sometimes there are some pretty serious issues lurking in that seemingly superb place.

I know the drill all too well. I recently made the move from Phoenix to the Bay Area, where the rental market is, frankly, cutthroat. After a month of applying to countless places, practically begging landlords to take my money, I finally found what I thought to be the perfect pad. And while my new apartment is pretty awesome, there were a few important matters I missed in my haste to find a home.

Whether you have to make a last-ditch decision or you have all the time in the world, here are 8 concerns that potential tenants often overlook when apartment hunting.

Water pressure

It was the end of move-in day. I was exhausted, grumpy, and ready for a shower. But, much to my dismay, the shower that followed consisted of a slow trickle barely pushing its way out of the showerhead. Luckily, my issue was easily fixed, but if you choose a place with low water pressure, you may have to resort to cleaning yourself with the backyard hose. During your apartment search, check all faucets because the kitchen sink’s water pressure may be just fine while the shower’s is, well, not.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s important to know if pets are allowed at your rental property, and if so, what kinds of pets. In my case, I needed an apartment that permits furry friends. But for apartment hunters who are allergic or simply not too fond of animals, you might want to check with the landlord to see whether or not your neighbors (around, above, and below you) have pets. And regardless of your pet-loving status, ask anyway, because a particularly noisy dog might be a dealbreaker if you’re one of those people who likes to, you know, sleep.

Cell phone reception

Most of us don’t think to whip out our cell phones and check our reception while the landlord is explaining all the wonderful amenities of the apartment. But once you can explore a bit on your own, walk into each room and try making a phone call. If the only spot you can successfully place a call is the bathtub, you might want to reconsider signing the lease (or at least be prepared to get a landline).

Hours for common areas

Depending on the size of the building or complex, amenities like on-site laundry rooms and gyms may be available. But, to avoid finding your wet, freshly washed clothes on the grubby laundry room floor, see if there’s an established schedule for residents to use the facilities. This will also help you determine whether or not these amenities will be available when you need them. Make sure that any common areas are clean and safe to be in at any point during the day (especially facilities that are open 24 hours).


Creepy-crawlies aren’t just an annoyance — they can also be dangerous to your health and pose a risk to the structure of the building. Look for the signs: insect nests outside the building, cobwebs, wood that looks like it’s been eaten away or chewed through, and small holes inside the apartment (mice can crawl through spaces the size of a dime!). Ask the landlord if there have ever been complaints in the past from former tenants, as well as what the landlord will do to address the problem if it ever, ahem, creeps up.


Apartment hunters will often view a place during the day or on the weekend, when neighbors might not be home and traffic isn’t as congested. If it’s possible, ask other residents what noise levels are like on average, both inside and outside. Can you hear every honk of a car’s horn even with the windows closed? Can you hear the upstairs neighbor blasting Kenny G. every weeknight at 11 p.m.? Some apartments are more insulated than others, so for the sake of your sanity, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Structural damage

The move-in process can be rushed for both landlords and potential tenants, and sometimes both parties don’t realize there’s a problem until something goes wrong. Some of the most commonly missed structural issues include leaky roofs, damaged windows, mold under the carpet, and ventilation problems.

Faulty appliances are also a common issue, and although they’re not technically part of the structure itself, they’re still structural additions that the landlord is responsible for in most cases. No one wants to have all their friends over for a housewarming dinner only to find out that the oven won’t even turn on.


This might seem like a no-brainer, but it never hurts to do a little extra research when it comes to your safety. After all, neighborhoods that look perfectly safe during the day might have higher crime than expected after the sun sets. The best way to find out is to contact your local police department. You can also feel things out by walking around your prospective neighborhood at different times of the day (including at night, but bring a friend).

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your valuables is to pick up some renters insurance. And luckily, it’s pretty darn inexpensive!

Bonus apartment hunting tip: Yelp it

If you’re looking at a unit in a larger building, especially in a city, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find online reviews. Sure, some may come from disgruntled former tenants, but look for patterns if possible. Do people comment on how quickly the landlord responds to issues? Any mention of pests, loud neighbors, or cleanliness problems? If you plan on signing a year-long lease, the more you know, the better.

Asking the right questions up front can save you major headaches down the road. Now that you’ve done your research, go out there and show that rental market who’s boss! (It’s you.)

Related links

Apartment hunting can be stressful. Here’s how to avoid a mental meltdown.
7 ways you might be violating your lease
The first step to figuring out renters insurance: take inventory

Excluded Drivers: Does Everyone in Your Home Need to Be Insured?

Working for an insurance company, I get all sorts of questions from my friends. Over time, I’ve amassed enough knowledge to answer most of them on my own, but recently, I received a question that I hadn’t heard before.

My friend, let’s call her Suzi, doesn’t drive. She’s quite petite (child sized, in fact) and can barely see over the wheel, so she leaves the driving to her 6-foot-tall boyfriend instead. Nevertheless, she’s required to be on her boyfriend’s car insurance policy. Suzi had heard the term “excluded driver” before and wanted to know why it couldn’t apply to her.

Stumped, I contacted the experts in our customer service department (such friendly people!). And boy, did they have a lot to say on the subject. Special thanks to Nicole D. and her team of insurance experts!

Excluded driver defined

In some states, if you don’t want a driver in your household to be listed on your policy (for example, a roommate who has her own insurance), you can ask your insurance company to specifically exclude that person from your policy. By doing so, you’re certifying that this person will not drive your car.

If the excluded driver doesn’t have their own insurance (and, in some cases, even if they do), and you let them drive your car, you could be liable for all damages and injuries if they have an accident.

To help protect their customers from this major financial risk, many insurance companies won’t allow you to exclude an uninsured driver from your policy.

Who must be listed on a policy?

The short answer is that all drivers in your household should be listed on your policy. But I’m much too verbose for a short answer, so here are more details.

In insurance terms, a driver can be anyone who has the knowledge and ability to drive, even if they don’t have an active license. This can include someone whose license is expired, suspended, or revoked, as well as someone who’s never had a U.S. license, like a recent immigrant.

When drivers live in the same household, everyone theoretically has access to your vehicles. Even someone who “never drives your car” might get behind the wheel in an emergency — and just imagine what kind of risk someone who never drives could pose!

Additionally, some people may be considered household members even if they don’t live with you full time (children in shared custody, for example). Likewise, there are situations where people who don’t live with you at all may be required to be on your policy, like if Grandpa cosigned your car loan or Mom is listed on your registration.

If you attempt to leave a driver off your policy and your insurance company later finds out, it could leave you open to a premium increase or even cancellation.

Who can be excluded from a policy?

Driver exclusions are not available in every state and they can also vary by insurance company (some charge a fee for excluding a driver).

In some states, you can only exclude a driver if they can provide proof that they’re insured on another policy. In states that do allow driver exclusion, there’s quite a bit of variance. In Oregon, for instance, Esurance can exclude a driver only if adding them will cause significant financial hardship or if their license is suspended for a medical impairment or major violation (like a DUI). And in Kentucky, spouses and dependents can’t be excluded at all.

In states that don’t allow exclusions (or if you don’t want to exclude the driver from all coverage), you may be able to provide proof that the driver has their own insurance instead of adding them to your policy. If that person then has an accident in your car, you may still be covered under the rules of permissive use.

If the person has never had a license, they may be asked to provide their state ID number so the insurance company can confirm that they’re not able to drive. If the person no longer drives due to age or medical impairment, they may need to officially surrender their drivers license to the DMV so they no longer appear in public records as an active driver. Keep in mind that if these unlicensed drivers borrow your car and have an accident, you could be in for a world of financial hurt since your insurance company likely won’t cover the damages.

In most states, an excluded driver would have no coverage at all, but some states do require limited liability coverage for excluded drivers. In those states, adding an excluded driver may slightly affect your premium to help cover the risk.

If you’re curious about the driver exclusion rules in your state, contact your insurance company. Esurance customers can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

So, to answer Suzi’s question …

Let’s look at the facts:

Though my friend avoids driving like the plague, she does have an active license and is physically able to drive. She also lives in a household with a car and could be forced to drive in an emergency. While her boyfriend may gripe at the slight increase to his insurance premium, he could be saving himself from a major financial blow by adding her as a driver … and isn’t that what insurance is all about?

Related links

Does car insurance follow the car or the driver?
Excluded drivers: our expert answers your questions