Can you get motorcycle insurance without a license?

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By Allison Cintins  |   Last updated on October 24th, 2022 at 12:14 pm

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There’s nothing quite like the freedom that comes from hitting the open road on your motorcycle. Nothing can stand between you and your right to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your bike. Nothing, except maybe a license? Read on to learn why you might want to get motorcycle insurance despite not having a motorcycle license.

What to know about riding a motorcycle

First things first, the rules of the road are sacred to cyclists. You don’t want to be a “squid”. A squid is someone who rides without any thought for the safety of others (or their own, for that matter). They ride in shorts and t-shirts, neglect proper safety gear, and tend to view the yellow center line as more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule. Drivers don’t like them, and other bikers don’t either.

Is a license a must have? First, let’s look at the steps to getting a motorcycle license.

The way motorcycle licenses work

There are a few steps you need to take in order to get your motorcycle license. The steps differ from state to state, but these are the basic requirements:

In many states, getting a learner’s permit is required for those under the age of 19. This step is specifically for those who are underaged and do not already hold a state driver’s license.

A permit is basically legal permission to learn to operate a motorcycle. The operative phrase in the last sentence is permission to learn. You’re very much still learning and need to take this period slow, with good instruction and supervision. On average, minors under 19 hold their permit for nine months before taking the road test.

Getting your permit will usually include a short written test followed by limited permission to ride. After the requisite time has passed, you will then be able to take your official road test before getting your license. In case tragedy strikes and you do not pass on your first go, worry not, as you’ll be able to take your test again, usually after a waiting period.

Onward to the license!

Remember: you are absolutely required to either hold a learner’s permit, license, or endorsement before you ever take your motorcycle onto a street. These licenses or license endorsements — whichever your state requires — come in different types.

What kind of license do I need?

That depends on the state and the type of vehicle(s) you will be riding. The DMV considers a motorcycle to be a motorized vehicle with an engine size larger than 150cc with no more than three wheels. The number of types and their naming conventions can also vary by state, but basically there are up to three types of motorcycle licenses:

  1. M – an M class license allows operation of both two- and three-wheeled motorcycles.
  2. M2 is restricted to only the operation of two-wheeled motorcycles.
  3. M3 is restricted to only the operation of three-wheeled motorcycles.

Once you know what type of motorcycle license you’re after, you can either sign up for a motorcycle safety course that leads to an endorsement or a license at the end. Now, if you already know how to ride and would prefer to take the written and driving tests, those options are also available to you. Depending on the state, you might also have to prove you own certain safety equipment or have a certain amount of driving hours logged.

Why do I need motorcycle insurance?

You can technically own a motorcycle without insurance, but if you plan to ride it legally, you’ll need motorcycle insurance in almost every state — 48, to be exact. The only two states that don’t mandate it are Florida and New Hampshire.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask, “Who would ever find out?” Well, for starters, in the 48 states that legally require you to buy motorcycle insurance, you can’t register your motorcycle without proof of insurance. Even if you risked not getting insurance or registering your motorcycle, getting caught without insurance or not having the proper coverages (i.e. if you’re pulled over for a traffic violation or are in an accident), you could be faced with a range of serious consequences, such as:

  • Getting fined, often up to hundreds of dollars. (For instance, in Virginia, standard fines start at $500.)
  • Getting your motorcycle license suspended
  • Having to go to court where you could face more fines, often called “court-ordered financial judgments”. These judgments can often be expensive and affect your credit history, especially if you miss your court date or lose your case. There are also often harsh consequences if you don’t have the funds to cover the judgment.
  • Getting sent to jail.

These consequences may sound alarmist, but don’t worry! Simply opting to follow your state’s rules and getting the right motorcycle insurance means you’ll never have to worry about these situations. It also means potentially saving thousands of dollars in the long run. Requirements vary by state on minimum coverage, but between us at Elephant and our friends at Dairyland, we’ll always make sure your policy meets your state’s requirements.

Now that you understand the consequences, let’s talk about the few reasons why you would want motorcycle insurance but not a license.

Reasons why you would want insurance without a license

If you are planning to ride a motorcycle, having a license is the safest and most legal option. However, there are a few cases in which a license is not necessary, but insurance is:

Motorcycle collector

If you collect classic bikes that you don’t plan to ride, there is no need for a license. However, you may want to get your collectibles insured.

Insuring a dependent’s bike

You may be paying for the motorcycle insurance of someone in your household, but not riding the bike yourself. In this case, it is up to the rider to obtain a license.

New rider without licensure

If you bought a bike that you plan to learn to ride somewhere down the road, you still need insurance to protect your property. You can get a license when you are ready.

You have a suspended license

Even if your motorcycle license gets suspended, you must keep the bike insured.

International driving permit

If you have an international driving permit, there is no need to get a license in the US. However, you still need to get insurance coverage.

Disability

If you have a disability that makes you unable to operate a motorcycle, you can still own one and have a third-party rider drive you around. In this case, the driver would need to be licensed, but as the owner of the bike, insurance is up to you.

Even if you don’t fall into one of the above categories, you can technically get motorcycle insurance without a license. Just remember that most insurance plans require a license for a reasonable rate, and some states require a license no matter what.

So, do I need a license to get insurance?

Although a motorcycle license is technically not required to get coverage, most insurers will ask to see a valid motorcycle license number before approving your application. While some insurers will accept learner’s permits, the majority will need you to tie your coverage to a legitimate license holder’s insurance. Finding an insurance company that does not require a license may prove tricky. Luckily, our partners at Dairyland do not require a motorcycle endorsement on your license.

Ways to increase your chances of getting coverage

To find out if your insurance company offers coverage, you may need to chat with an agent personally. To purchase insurance, some businesses need you to have a state-issued ID card. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting coverage:

Leave yourself out

If you exclude yourself from the policy, you will not be covered when riding your bike. However, you will not be considered a risk for driving without a license. If you decide to earn or recover your license, be sure to update this information.

Choose a main driver

Your insurance company will use that person’s driving record to decide premiums if you name another primary driver on the policy.

Wait till you have insurance

You might wait to purchase coverage until you pass your driving test or your license is no longer suspended if you’ll get your license shortly and no one needs to ride the bike right away. If you have a lapse in coverage, you may have to pay a bit more for insurance, but getting coverage with a license will be easier.

How much is motorcycle insurance without a license?

A number of things influence motorcycle insurance premiums. Some examples are:

  • Driving history
  • Credit rating
  • History of claims
  • Location
  • Gender and age
  • The motorcycle’s worth

If you are purchasing insurance for someone that is licensed, the cost will be the same as any other policy. If it’s for you (or anyone else unlicensed), it’ll be more expensive.

Ways to save on motorcycle insurance

Did you know that getting a quote is the best way to see what you can save? Both Elephant and Dairyland offer a variety of motorcycle insurance discounts. If you’re an existing Elephant customer, you already know we love offering discounts to our customers. That’s why we offer a bundling discount for customers who have auto insurance policies with us and add motorcycle insurance to their policies!

We also love partnering with other providers who love a discount, like Dairyland, who believe in affordability, value, and cost savings. They reward their customers with discounts for the smart decisions they’re already making, like if:

  • You own multiple motorcycles
  • You’re a member of a motorcycle riders’ group
  • You’ve passed a rider safety course

What kind of motorcycle coverage is needed without a license?

The kind of coverage you require is determined on how you intend to use the bike. If your license has been suspended but you still need to meet state standards, you might choose minimum liability coverage. However, if you require motorbike insurance for another driver, you should consider purchasing additional coverage.

Liability for bodily injury

If any of the drivers on your policy are at fault, it covers medical bills for the other driver and passengers.

Liability for property damage 

Pays for the other driver’s and passengers’ car damage.

Collision

You are protected from having to pay for bike maintenance out of pocket.

Comprehensive

Non-collision incidents including theft, vandalism, and falling tree branches are covered.

Rules around mopeds, scooters, and motorcycle insurance

Many states require basic insurance for mopeds and scooters to cover the cost of losses in an accident. Getting motorcycle insurance for a moped or scooter is usually less expensive than insurance for actual motorcycles, but the best way to find out what a policy will cost you is to get a quote since each individual and each policy is different.

Whether you’re an existing Elephant customer or simply looking at different insurance coverage options, it’s important to us that you’re as safe as possible on the road. Still looking for more information on motorcycle insurance? We’re here to help. Head to our main motorcycle insurance page for more information.



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