When you purchase an insurance policy, the insurance company reserves the right to refuse compensation in certain situations where losses and damages are incurred. These are called “exclusions” on your policy, and they exist for every type of insurance, including insurance for motor vehicles.

Just google “common car insurance exclusions,” and your search will return dozens of helpful articles. For motorcycles, however, this information is harder to dig up.

It’s helpful to know that many of the same exclusions frequently included in car insurance policies also apply to motorcycles. An insurance company will never pay for intentional damages, and that includes negative actions from road rage. If you don’t own comprehensive insurance, then damages caused by “acts of nature” will get passed over by your insurer. The “livery exclusion,” an exception for vehicles that transport people or property as a business, applies to cars and motorcycles alike.

There’s one important discrepancy between car and motorcycle insurance exclusions: Whereas most car insurance policies will cover your vehicle when you lend it to friend, you are more likely to encounter an insurance exclusion for a borrowed motorcycle. Think carefully before you let your buddy take your bike for a spin.

Some motorcycle exclusions are grounded in good common sense, and should not affect you if you’re a responsible motorcycle owner. Loss or damages from theft may not be covered if you left the keys in the ignition, for instance. Your insurance company also reserves the right to inspect a damaged bike to determine whether or not the damages were caused by poor maintenance.

Other exclusions might seem rather extreme. Don’t let it make you uneasy if your policy excludes loss or damage from radioactive contamination, civil war, or pressure waves caused by flying objects travelling at or above the speed of sound (yes, that’s referring to UFOs).

For serious motorcyclists, however, it’s crucial to be aware of several exclusions that could catch you by surprise. Most motorcycle insurance providers, including big underwriters such as Progressive and GEICO, put exclusions in their policies for accidents that occur while a motorcycle is being used in, or in preparation for, any competitive or organized riding activity. This is not an exclusion intended just for drag racers, but can extend to a mishap during a club ride or poker run. Some policies also restrict the mileage it covers over a 24-hour period. Review your policy thoroughly before going on a long tour. If you plan to cover more than 500 miles in a day, you could find yourself riding without your insurance company’s protection.
Insurance policies can vary widely from company to company and from state to state. Read all of the fine print that comes with your policy.

Most importantly, if you have been in an accident, do not speak with your insurance agent until you’ve met with an attorney at Wittmer | Linehan. In addition to providing legal representation in your case, we can thoroughly review your policy and its exclusions. If you have questions about the extent of your coverage and possible exclusions, the professionals at Wittmer | Linehan are happy to offer you a free insurance consultation. Simply give us a call.