Motorcycle Theft and Insurance Coverage
Dealing With an Insurance Claim When Your Motorcycle is Stolen
Motorcycles can be easy prey for a professional thief. When taking into consideration the portability of motorcycles and the money to be made from parting them out, it is no wonder motorcycles are at high risk of theft. Unlike a car, motorcycles are fairly easy to move without having a key. A stolen motorcycle is also less likely to be recovered than a stolen car. According to the NICB, the recovery rate of motorcycles was 44% in 2018, whereas cars were located 59% percent of the time.
Check Your Coverage
The claims process for motorcycle theft is very similar to that for a stolen car. First, you need to determine whether you have purchased comprehensive coverage on your motorcycle insurance policy. Comprehensive is the kind of coverage purchased to protect you in case of theft. It is commonly purchased along with liability while you are riding your motorcycle, or as protection if you store your motorcycle. Without comprehensive coverage listed on an active motorcycle policy, you will not have coverage and you'll have to rely on the police to make progress in finding your vehicle.
Call the Police Immediately
Make sure you call the police and file an incident report as soon as possible after discovering the theft. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your motorcycle will be recovered. Waiting only gives the criminals more time to move your stolen bike farther and farther away, or dismantle it for parts which could be scattered far and wide.
File a Motorcycle Theft Claim
Assuming you have the appropriate comprehensive coverage on your policy, you need to file your motorcycle theft claim as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company, and have the following information with you:
- Year, make, and model of your motorcycle
- The mileage
- The location it was stolen from
- The date and time it was stolen
- The police report number
All theft claims require a police report to be filed.
You may also be asked for other information regarding your motorcycle, such as:
- Whether you still have the keys
- Whether you own the title to the motorcycle
- What the motorcycle looks like
- Whether anyone else had access to it
- Whether you had any personal property on the bike when it was taken
If you're financing or leasing the motorcycle, let your financing company know, too.
Questions to Ask When You File Your Claim
As you progress through the process of making the claim, you may be paired with a claims rep who will assist you. You may also have a lot of questions about the process. The answers will depend on the specifics of your individual insurance policy, but some general information still applies.
How Long Will It Take to Finalize the Claim?
Theft claims can take time to process, and the insurance company is likely hopeful that police will recover your stolen bike. Ask the claims rep how long you should expect the process to take. They should regularly update you on the status of your claim.
How Will You Calculate the Payout?
Custom motorcycle equipment can cost thousands of dollars. The more documentation you have on your bike's custom equipment, the smoother your claims process will be. Gather all of your photos and receipts for your motorcycle to give to the claims adjuster. Most motorcycle policies automatically include a low limit for custom equipment—say, $3,000.
If you have done major customization to your motorcycle, you'll need to have those amounts reflected in your policy before the insurance company will pay you for them.
What Paperwork Needs to Be Filled Out?
A stolen and unrecovered motorcycle is considered a total loss. Therefore, the insurance company will need the physical title to your motorcycle. If you have a loan, the bank will also need to sign off on it. If you owe more than the actual cash value of the bike, you'll need to have gap insurance to cover the difference or pay for it out-of-pocket.
Do You Know Your Deductible?
Comprehensive coverage on motorcycles typically requires a deductible. However, some insurance carriers offer an additional benefit, called a disappearing, diminishing, or vanishing deductible, which reduces your deductible after every consecutive period without claims. It is considered an optional type of coverage, so usually you have to request the coverage and pay additional money to get it.
Check with your agent, customer service representative, or your declaration page to see what your comprehensive deductible is on your motorcycle. If your motorcycle theft claim turns into a total loss claim, meaning the bike goes unrecovered, the deductible is simply subtracted from the payoff amount. You will not need to pay the deductible to the insurance company yourself.
Recovering Your Motorcycle
If your stolen motorcycle is recovered but damaged, comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of repairs minus your deductible. If the bike is recovered after you have gone through the entire claims process of a total loss, the insurance company will be the owner of the motorcycle, since you transferred your title during the claims process.
If your stolen motorcycle is recovered after your claim is completed, buying it back from the insurance company may be possible. Ask your insurance adjuster.
Theft Prevention Tips
No one wants to be a victim of theft. You might not be able to prevent it, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of your motorcycle being stolen:
- Lock your ignition, forks, or disc brakes
- Make sure any installed locks leave little or no room for cutting tools
- Lock your bike to a stationary object
- Install an alarm
- Park or store your motorcycle out of sight
Comprehensive is almost always a good choice when it comes time to purchase insurance. Do whatever you can to prevent motorcycle theft in the first place and know you have your motorcycle insurance to cover you as a last resort.
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National Insurance Crime Bureau. "FBI Releases New Auto Theft Numbers — Nearly 750,000 Motor Vehicles Stolen in 2018." Accessed April 5, 2020.
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Progressive. "Motorcycle Insurance 101." Accessed April 5, 2020.
Farmers Insurance. "Does Motorcycle Insurance Cover Theft?" Accessed April 5, 2020.
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California Department of Insurance. "Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations." Accessed April 5, 2020.
Progressive. "Total Loss." Accessed April 5, 2020.
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