The District of Columbia (D.C.) a.k.a. Washington D.C. provides motorcyclists with a unique urban landscape, rich history, and iconic landmarks to explore.
As a motorcycle owner and operator in D.C., it is essential to verify that you’ve met the district’s motorcycle insurance requirements and safety regulations before going for a cruise.
Keep in mind that the entire purpose of motorcycle insurance is to guarantee financial responsibility in the event of an accident, property damage, and/or injuries.
D.C. Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
To be legally compliant with the District of Columbia’s motorcycle insurance requirements, your policy must include the following “25/50/10” coverage limits plus uninsured motorist coverage.
- Property damage liability: $10,000 (minimum)
- Third-party liability: $25,000 per person & $50,000 per accident (minimums)
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person & $50,000 per accident (minimums)
- Uninsured motorist property damage: $5,000 (minimum)
The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees the district’s motorcycle insurance requirements.
Note: Insurance requirements for D.C. (District of Columbia) may be subject to future change. Insurance companies and government institutions will keep motorcyclists updated on any coverage requirement changes.
Motorcycles & Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined in D.C.
In the District of Columbia, motorcycles and other two-wheeled vehicles are legally defined as follows:
- Motorcycle: A motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, having a seat or saddle for the rider, and powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.
- Moped: A motor-driven cycle with an engine not exceeding 50 cubic centimeters (3.05 cubic inches) which produces no more than 2 brake horsepower and is not capable of speeds greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
- Scooter: A two-wheeled vehicle with a motor displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or more that is not capable of speeds greater than 60 miles per hour.
Note: Definitions are based on the D.C. Code, Title 18 – Vehicle and Traffic, Chapter 12 – Definitions.
Insurance Requirements for Smaller Vehicles in D.C.
In the District of Columbia, many smaller vehicles require insurance, including:
Motorcycles: All motorcycles, regardless of the number of wheels, must have liability insurance coverage in the District of Columbia.
Mopeds & Scooters: Mopeds and scooters with a motor that displaces 50 cubic centimeters or more are subject to the same insurance requirements as motorcycles in D.C. However, mopeds with an engine displacement less than 50 cubic centimeters do not require insurance but must be registered with the district.
For specific information about insuring a smaller motorized vehicle in the District of Columbia, contact an insurance provider.
Basic Motorcycle Rules in D.C.
Below are some common rules that must be followed if you wish to legally operate a motorcycle in the District of Columbia (D.C.).
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting, or riding between lanes of traffic, is illegal in D.C.
- Helmets: D.C. law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet while riding, regardless of age. All helmets must meet the safety standards set by the Department of Transportation.
- Eye protection: All riders in D.C. are required to wear protective eye-wear unless their motorcycle has a windshield.
- Passengers: A passenger can only ride on a motorcycle if the bike is equipped with a designated passenger seat and footrest.
- Mirrors & lighting: Motorcycles must be equipped with at least one rear-view mirror and have proper lighting, including brake lights, tail lights, and turn signals.
- Turn signals: D.C. law requires motorcycles to have functioning turn signals.
- Headlights: Motorcycles must have at least one working headlight, which must be used during daytime and nighttime hours.
- Seat & footrest: All motorcycles must have a seat for the rider, as well as a footrest.
- Endorsement: To legally operate a motorcycle in D.C., you must have a motorcycle (M) endorsement on your driver’s license.
Additional Insurance for Motorcyclists in D.C.
Though some motorcyclists may be content with minimum insurance coverage in D.C., others may feel safer with additional coverage. Additional coverage types for your motorcycle are listed below.
- Collision: Can help cover the cost of repairs or replacement if your motorcycle is damaged or totaled in an accident.
- Comprehensive: Can help cover the cost of repairs or replacement if your motorcycle is stolen or damaged by factors such as weather, fire, or vandalism.
- Roadside Assistance: Provides assistance if your motorcycle breaks down while you’re on the road, including services such as towing, fuel delivery, and battery jump-starts.
- Custom Parts & Equipment: If you customized your bike with unique parts or accessories, this coverage can help cover the cost of repairs or replacement if they are damaged or stolen.
- Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist: Can help protect you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver without insurance or adequate coverage to pay for damages. (D.C. requires some coverage for uninsured motorists – but you may want more).
- Medical Payments: Can help cover medical expenses for you or your passengers in the event of an accident – as sometimes the minimum coverage amounts are not sufficient.
Proof of Insurance & Penalties in D.C.
In the District of Columbia, all motorcyclists (and other motorists) are required to carry proof of insurance while driving.
Proof of insurance should always be available when requested by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop or after an accident.
Failing to provide proof of insurance may result in penalties.
- First Offense: Fine of up to $500, suspension of license and registration until you can provide proof of insurance, and potential impoundment of your vehicle.
- Second Offense: Fine of up to $1,000, suspension of license and registration for up to 90 days, and potential impoundment of your vehicle.
- Third & Subsequent Offenses: Fine of up to $2,000, suspension of license and registration for up to 6 months, and potential impoundment of your vehicle.
FAQs: Motorcycle Insurance in D.C.
Listed below are basic questions about motorcycle insurance and motorcycle rules/regulations specific to the District of Columbia (D.C.).
Can motorcyclists engage in “lane splitting?”
Lane splitting is illegal in the District of Columbia.
D.C. Code § 50-2201.04 states: “No person shall drive a vehicle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Are helmets required for motorcyclists in D.C.?
In the District of Columbia, helmets are required for all riders and passengers – no matter the age.
Helmets should meet safety standards set by the District’s Department of Transportation.
Do I need a license to ride a motorcycle in D.C.?
Yes, you need a motorcycle (M) endorsement on your driver’s license to legally operate a motorcycle in the District of Columbia.
You can obtain a motorcycle endorsement by passing a written test and either completing a motorcycle training course approved by the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or passing a skills test.
How can you save on motorcycle insurance in D.C.?
Comparing plans and prices between different insurance providers can help you save money on your motorcycle insurance – most people are aware of this.
If you already have a motorcycle insurance plan, it never hurts to compare it to plans offered by other providers to see if you can get a better deal.
You can also take advantage of special discounts and/or select a higher deductible to save money on premiums.
If my motorcycle is in storage for a portion of the year – is insurance necessary?
Even if you don’t ride your motorcycle year-round, you’ll probably still want to keep some insurance on it while in storage.
If your motorcycle is damaged, stolen, or subject to a fire, various insurance packages will provide reimbursement… if you don’t have insurance you’ll be out of luck.
How can I reduce my insurance premiums?
Check with your provider to see if there are any discounts you qualify for that haven’t been applied to your insurance package.
You may also want to gather quotes from other insurers and compare them to your current plan and/or do whatever is necessary to qualify for discounts (such as taking additional driver’s safety classes).
Almost everyone can find ways to decrease their premiums if they’re willing to make an effort.
Do scooters & mopeds require the same insurance as motorcycles in D.C.?
In the District of Columbia, mopeds and scooters with a motor that displaces 50 cubic centimeters or more are subject to the same insurance requirements as motorcycles.
However, mopeds with an engine displacement less than 50 cubic centimeters do not require insurance but must be registered with the district.
Talk to an insurance provider if you have any specific questions about insuring scooters and/or mopeds.
What happens if you drive without insurance in D.C.?
It is illegal to operate a motorcycle without insurance in the District of Columbia.
As was already mentioned, persons who operate a motorcycle without insurance in the District will be subject to fines and potential suspension of license, motorcycle impoundment, and possibly more.
Which variables impact motorcycle insurance cost?
Variables that impact the price of motorcycle insurance are fairly obvious to most people.
- Age & sex of motorcyclist
- Driving history & record
- Motorcycle value (make, model, condition)
- Location (where you live)
- Desired insurance coverage(s)
- Frequency of motorcycle use
Getting motorcycle insurance in the District of Columbia (D.C.)
Getting top-notch motorcycle insurance in D.C. doesn’t always require an excessive time investment with research of companies and policy comparisons – though this can help.
Most people can simply use a free quote tool like the one provided on this website to enter their Zip Code (location) – and quickly get quotes from some of the best providers in the area.
After you’ve gotten a few quotes, compare them and pinpoint the specific insurer that’s giving you the best overall value (most coverage) for your money.