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California Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

California Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

California is located on the west coast of the United States and has the largest population of any state. It is the largest state by area and has over 38 million residents. Large cities in this state include: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland. These eight cities are among the top 50 most populated cities in the United States. This is a state known for the gold rush, immigration, landmarks, weather, and it’s beautiful natural scenery. The economy in California is heavily geared towards fruit and vegetable production, education, technology, aerospace, and manufacturing. It is known as “The Golden State” by many.

If you live in California and own a motorcycle, it is helpful to know some basic information about the state’s insurance requirements. If you are underinsured or don’t know the amount of coverage that is legally required to operate your bike, read up on some specifics below. It’s not difficult to get an adequate amount of coverage, but it may take a little time out of your day to find the company offering the best deal. Once you have found a good policy that meets legal requirements, you can cruise through California’s scenic roads, soak up some sun, and enjoy all that this state has to offer.

California Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

If you are riding any sort of two wheeled vehicle – whether it be a motorcycle, moped, etc. – you need to make sure it meets legal standards set by the state. Before you even take your first motorcycle ride on California roadways, you need to prove that you will be able to cover any damages that you could potentially cause. In other words, if you get into an accident, you need to be able to pay for whatever you are liable to cover. For most people, the most practical way to demonstrate that you will be able to pay for any damages that you may cause is by purchasing an insurance policy.

How to Establish Financial Responsibility in California

There are a few ways in which you can prove that you are financially responsible. Proving financial responsibility is the only way to legally show that you will be able to pay for damages that you may cause in an accident. Although buying an insurance policy is the easiest and most practical way to prove responsibility – there are other options.

  • Buy a liability insurance policy
  • Cash deposit of $35,000 with the California DMV
  • Self-insurance certificates
  • Surety bond for $35,000 from a licensed CA insurance company

Motorcycles / Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined in CA

Below are various definitions for two-wheeled vehicles that can be driven in California. If you need further answers or more specifics, you can contact the California DMV at (800)-777-0133. They have experts on hand that will help you figure out the precise classification of your bike.

Motorcycles: Vehicles that have seats for a rider and operate on 2 wheels; no more than 3 wheels. These may be electrically powered as long as they weigh less than 2500 lbs. and maximum speed is no more than 45 mph.

Motor-Driven Cycles: These are motorcycles with an engine smaller than 149 cc. You may encounter areas in which these are not allowed to be driven on a California highway. If there is a sign prohibiting these from being driven on the highway, you can NOT legally ride motor-driven cycles on these roads.

Motorized Scooters: These are motorized two-wheeled vehicles with platform for standing on while riding and handlebars. These must be able to support a driver’s seat that doesn’t interfere with standing while riding.
Motorized Bicycles: These are mopeds or vehicles with pedals and an electric motor. These may not exceed 1000 watts. Should you have more questions regarding motor bikes, contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

California Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements

If you are planning on purchasing a liability insurance policy, you must make sure that the policy meets the state’s minimum requirements. Below are the minimums that need to be met before you operate your motorcycle in CA.

  • $15,000 bodily injury per person

  • $30,000 bodily injury per accident

  • $5,000 property damage

You may have seen the minimum requirements listed in an abbreviation as: 15/30/5. Each number represents a different aspect of coverage with units in thousands of dollars. As you can see, you need to get an insurance policy that provides plenty of bodily injury coverage per accident, but you don’t need much in property damage coverage in comparison to some other states. It is also up to you to decide whether the minimum amounts of coverage are enough to make you feel secure while operating your motorcycle in this state. If you’d like to increase coverage, you can work with your insurance company to do so.

Helmet Requirements in CA

In various states there are drivers of certain age groups that are exempt from wearing helmets. In California, no matter how much insurance you purchase, you still need to always wear an official motorcycle helmet at all times. Whether you are the person driving the bike or you are a passenger – you need to always wear a helmet to protect your head. Not only is it smart to wear a helmet for extra protection, you may even end up saving money on your insurance policy with an extra safety discount.

California DMV Collects Insurance Records

Everyone that signs up for an insurance policy in the state of California will be electronically reported to the California DMV. The report will be issued by the insurance company to notify the DMV that you have purchased adequate liability coverage. This reporting is done automatically and electronically – it allows the state to keep track of individuals who have insurance and those who don’t. If you forget to renew your insurance or fail to purchase coverage before riding, the state could suspend your registration and/or issue fines.

Proof of Insurance

Although the DMV will keep track of whether you purchased an insurance policy in California, they still may need to verify coverage via alternative methods. After purchasing insurance, you will be given a “proof of insurance” card or insurance identification card. You should keep that card with you at all times while operating your motorcycle. Should you ever get pulled over by a police officer or cause an accident, you will need to have proof of insurance.

If you made a cash deposit or are self-insured, the DMV may need a written letter of authorization as proof that you are covered. If you need to provide an SR-22 form, follow all guidelines issued by the California DMV before you submit proof of coverage. You may need to also provide documentation showing that you fully own or are leasing your motorcycle.

Penalty for Lack of Insurance in CA

Below are various penalties that you could face if you are caught without insurance for your motorcycle.  Although it costs money to have insurance, it is better to have coverage than get caught without it.  Insurance helps keep the roadways safe and will protect your assets if you end up causing an accident.

Below are a few things that can lead to a penalty:

  • Failure to replace insurance policy – If you cancel your coverage and don’t replace your liability coverage within 45 days of your cancellation, you will find yourself in legal trouble.
  • No submission of proof – If your insurance company doesn’t submit proof of insurance to the California DMV, you may face a penalty.
  • You attempt to use fake / invalid insurance – You can get into serious trouble if you try to use fake coverage.

Various penalties include:

  • Suspended Registration – You may face a suspended registration if you drive without insurance.
  • Ticket / Fine ($1000) – You could face up to $1000 in fines for failure to show proof of financial responsibility or insurance in the event you are pulled over.
  • Impounded Vehicle – You’re motorcycle may be impounded without adequate proof of insurance.

Note: If you get into an accident and lack insurance, you are still responsible for the damages that you’ve caused. It is up to you to compensate all parties that are injured or dealing with damages that are you’re responsibility.

California Motorcycle Insurance Companies

If you are looking for an insurer for your motorcycle, the easiest way is to compare rates and coverage among companies in your area. This website provides a free tool below (and at the top of the page) that allows you to enter your Zip Code and a list of leading providers are generated. Once you see the top providers in your specific location in California, you can get quotes from each company and determine the insurer that is offering the best rates. It may take a little bit of time out of your day to run a comparison between insurers, but once you find the company that offers the best value for your dollar, you will be satisfied.

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