A Brief History of Motorcycle Insurance  

A Brief History of Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is more common today than it ever has been in the past. For many years motorcyclists had no real options for insurance and many of them did not want insurance anyways. Many changes have occurred in the last century that have caused advances in motorcycle safety and the quality of insurance programs. Many states even require motorcycle insurance by law. Despite the mandatory insurance laws in most states between 15 and 50 percent of riders do not have insurance and almost the same amount do not have a motorcycle license.

The first companies to offer motorcycle insurance were auto insurance companies that had separate plans for motorcyclists. The rates were very high as motorcycling was considered to be a rebellious activity and the public had many negative prejudices against people that rode. While motorcycling was and still is dangerous, the insurance companies charged an unfairly high premium for motorcyclists because they were uneducated about the realities of motorcycling. There was also little to no formal training available, so most riders did go down a lot while they were still learning.

In the 1970s and 1980s riding training programs became more common. In 1974 the Motorcycle Safety Foundation was founded and began giving courses basic rider skills. The MSF is now the nation’s leading rider safety course and is found in 48 states. Many other independent and state-sponsored courses have been created as well such as the California Motorcyclist Safety Program created in 1987. Studies have shown that riders who take safety courses halve their chance of being in a fatal accident.

At the end of the last century some states made it mandatory to wear a helmet while riding, while many also made it mandatory to have motorcycle insurance. Studies done in several states show that riders have around a forty percent higher chance of dying in a motorcycle crash when not wearing a helmet. Some studies report an even higher increase in fatalities. Many insurance companies lowered their rates when helmet laws became mandatory in some states. It is also speculated that mandatory insurance means that the average rates are lower since insurance companies have more clients.

In the past few decades, and especially in the past several years, many insurance companies have been created that are solely dedicated to insuring riders. This is great for riders because these insurance companies tend to have a better understanding on the risks of riding and what constitutes safe riding. Many of the larger auto insurers have also created branches dedicated to motorcycle insurance as well.

We now live in a world where more people have less of a bias against motorcyclists, however there is still a lot of misinformation. The results of studies have shown that while motorcycling is dangerous, that most motorcycle accidents are the result on untrained and often unlicensed riders who are often under the influence of alcohol. Proper training, proper safety gear, and sober riding can make riding a motorcycle much less of a risk than most people would believe it is. The insurance companies are beginning to realize this, and the result is lower and more realistic rates for safe riders.


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