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Motorcycles, Boats, and ATVs


If you are in the market for motorcycle insurance, know that there are some important differences between motorcycle insurance and automobile insurance: 

Similar to auto insurance, most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage for motorcycles. Liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to other people involved in an accident. However, it is very important to note that the basic motorcycle policy does not provide PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage for potential injuries to yourself as would be included in an auto policy nor will the PIP coverage on your auto policy cover you if you are involved in an accident while on your motorcycle.

An additional endorsement could be added to your liability insurance to provide PIP-style first-party medical coverage, in the event you want to be reimbursed for bodily injury expenses you incurred while on your motorcycle. You may also be able to purchase coverage for medical bills received from an injured party, ranging from $2,000 to $25,000. Check also whether your liability coverage includes Guest Passenger Liability, which provides financial protection in the event that your passenger is injured while on your motorcycle.

Optional Coverage

Always ask your insurance agent or company representative which insurance coverages are required for motorcyclists in your state. Other, usually optional, available coverages specific to motorcycle policies include the following:

  • Collision (covering damage to your motorcycle)

  • Comprehensive (covering damage caused by events other than a collision, such as fire, theft or vandalism)

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (covering damages to you and your property caused by another driver who either does not have insurance or whose insurance is inadequate). 

  • It is also worth asking about motorcycle accessories coverage for items such as add-ons, customizations, aftermarket parts and anything else you may have added to your bike since purchasing it.

  • In many northern states, seasonal motorcyclists can consider buying a lay-up policy, in which all coverage except comprehensive is suspended during winter months. 


There are ways of saving money on motorcycle premiums, with discounts ranging anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on the company and the state. Some common discounts include:

  • Multi-bike discounts

  • Motorcycle association discounts

  • Discounts for experienced riders

  • Installation of antitheft devices

  • Discounts for graduates of training courses, such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Rider Course 

Insurance companies have separate requirements for helmets. Be sure you understand your state law and that you have read your policy to see what it requires when it comes to wearing a helmet. Scooters for yourself or your teenager also must have insurance. Talk with your insurance agent or company about who will be operating the scooter. Some insurance companies might offer a discount for safety courses.


All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are also not covered by standard automobile insurance policies; however, your homeowners policy might partially cover your liability on an ATV. Ask your insurance agent or company if this coverage is enough to protect you and your family. You might want to consider a separate ATV policy to make sure you are properly insured.

Some questions to ask your insurance agent or company:

  • Are there age restrictions on who may operate the ATV?

  • Does my policy cover friends or family who are operating the ATV?

  • Is there a discount for taking an operator safety course or for riding with a helmet?


The personal property coverage of your homeowners policy might cover a small boat, motor and trailer (usually for $1,500 or less in physical damage). It should be noted that coverage for your liability risk is limited. Insurers generally provide liability insurance on small sailboats (26 feet or less) and powerboats with small motors (50 hp for inboard and inboard/outboard and 25 HP for outboard motors).

However, a boat of any significant size will be excluded from your homeowners policy for both property and liability coverage. In certain situations liability coverage can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. 

Larger and faster boats, yachts, and personal water crafts such as jet skis and wave runners require a separate boat insurance policy. For yachts, damage to the craft, including the hull, may be covered. These policies also provide broader liability protection. 

A boat insurance policy may cover:

  • Bodily injury - for injuries caused to another person

  • Property damage - for damage caused to someone else's property

  • Guest passenger liability - for any legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner's permission.

  • Medical payments - for injuries to the boat owner and other passengers.

  • Theft

Most companies offer liability limits starting at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.

The type of vessel, the horsepower of the engines, the value of the vessel, and the location where it is kept are all factors in determining coverage and premium.

Another variable influencing the cost of boat insurance is the water where it's used. Sailing in the Caribbean is generally riskier than sailing a quiet lake. The Insurance Information Institute suggests that boat owners discuss this with their insurance agent or company representative to protect their boat and determine their coverage needs.


  • Diesel powered crafts. It is less hazardous than gasoline since it is less likely to explode.

  • Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers.

  • Ship-to-shore radios.

  • Two years of claims-free experience.

  • Multi policy with the same insurer, such as a car, home or umbrella policy.

  • Safety education courses, such as those offered by the Coast Guard AuxiliaryU.S. Power Squadrons, and the American Red Cross

Some other questions to ask your agent before putting your boat in the water:

  • Does my policy have adequate liability limits?

  • Who does the policy cover to operate the boat or personal watercraft?

  • Is the towing of skiers or tubes covered by my policy? 

Safe Boating 

To be a safer boater, the U.S. Coast Guard suggests that you:

  • Get a free vessel safety check by calling 1-800-368-5647.

  • Monitor the weather forecast and let someone know where you're going and when to expect you.

  • Check engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, especially for exhaust-system leaks.

  • Keep marine-type fire extinguishers accessible and in condition for immediate use. Make sure they are matched to the size and type of the boat.

  • Equip the vessel with required navigation lights and with a whistle, horn or bell. Consider additional safety devices, such as a paddle or oars, a first-aid kit, a supply of fresh water, a tool kit and spare parts, a flashlight, flares and a radio.

  • Make sure that every person on board the boat wears a life jacket and don't permit riding on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales. Every year, 80% ofboater fatalities are attributed to a missing life jacket.

  • Never boat under the influence. In 2001, alcohol was involved in more than one third of all boating fatalities.

If you have specific questions about boat, motorcycle or ATV insurance, contact us at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. You can email your questions to or call the Consumer Response Team at 651-539-1600 or (for outstate MN area only) 1-800-657-3602.

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