Ask Adam: Motorcycle Insurance Special

Adam Mitchell

Adam Mitchell

In This Installment of Ask Adam:

  1. Cost of insurance vs. value of motorcycle
  2. Insurance for custom bikes
  3. Rider training discounts
  4. Standalone motorcycle insurance
  5. Sportsbike blacklists
  6. Multiline discounts for experienced riders
  7. Advice for first time riders
  8. Seasonal motorcycle insurance
  9. Impact of automobile driving history on motorcycle insurance rates

Hi Adam,

Why would it cost me $3,000 – $4,000 for first time insurance when I only paid $1500 for my starter bike?

John in Scarborough

The $3,000 – $4,000 for your bike insurance isn’t related to the value of the motorcycle, but or your likelihood of being injured and the potential cost of your medical benefits. More than half of all auto insurance policies, especially motorcycle, are calculated according to your likelihood of getting injured, and the resulting cost of rehab, income replacement, and other expenses. Because there are no airbags or seat belts on a bike, and because you have no experience, you’re really likely to have an incident and really likely to be injured in that incident.

So on your $1,500 motorcycle, about $100 – $200 might go to ensuring the bike itself; the rest of the coverage amount is based on the likelihood of your injuring yourself or someone else. Your age and the type (not value) of motorcycle are bigger factors in the cost of motorcycle insurance than the value of your bike.

Hello Adam,
I’m thinking about getting a custom motorcycle, probably a nice Chopper – but I’ve heard they’re impossible to ensure, is that true?

Rick M – Toronto, Ont

No it’s not impossible – it’ll just cost a little bit more. There’s a lot less competition for companies that will insure it, but you still have options.

Whether it’s a custom Chopper or vintage Triumph, you can get insurance for it as long as it’s legal for the road. If you can get it on the road at the MTO, you’ll be able to get coverage for it somewhere, though you might be left with only one or two markets for it.

Hi Adam,
A lot of people do the basic rider training when they get their M2. Are there any companies that offer discounts for the that? What about for advanced Riders training?

Karen S – North York

There are really big discounts for doing the rider training, so it’ll pay for itself in the first year or two. Echelon is one of the companies that will give you an additional level of discount on your bike insurance if you do the advanced Rider training.

Hi Adam,
I’ve heard that a lot of companies won’t insure motorcycles unless they’re bundled with other coverage. Is this true, or can I get insurance for my bike only?

Scott, Toronto

It’s definitely possible to get insurance on a motorcycle as a standalone product. Some of the companies do offer up to a full 50% discount on bike insurance as an incentive to bundle other products such as your home, tenants, and auto insurance. And while some brokers and direct writers will shy away from standalone motorcycle coverage, you certainly have options, and we can certainly do it.

Hi Adam,
I’ve heard about a mythical blacklist for sport bikes. Is there a central database that blacklists them? It seems like nobody wants to touch them.

Francois G

There are bikes that are more expensive to insure, but if it’s legal to ride, you can get insurance for it. If you don’t have enough experience, and if the bike is heavy horsepower and fast, you might end up with Facility, but the sport bike blacklist is indeed a myth. Different insurance companies have different lists of bikes they don’t want to write, but if you’re dealing with a broker that has enough markets, you’ll have options.

If you have a sport bike and you have very little experience, you can get insurance, but it’s going to be really expensive because your risk of injury and crashing or something going wrong is quite High. But if you have 10 years experience with that sports bike, you have a couple more options, and it can get a lot more competitive.

Hey Adam,
Are multiline discounts only available to experienced riders?

Bobby F – Toronto, Ontario

If you fit into an insurance company that offers multi-line discounts, you’re eligible, no matter what your experience or age. You just need to fit into that particular company’s underwriting criteria

Hi Adam,
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about riding a motorcycle for the first time?

Phil G

Get a small starter bike that you can handle the weight and the horsepower of, take the driver training course, and then deal with a broker that understands your passion for bikes. That way you’re not treated like a pariah, and they’ll understand that you want to ride this bike, that you love this bike, and as a broker, they’ll likely have options for you to suit that passion of yours.

Hey Adam!
With riding being seasonal, is it possible to only pay for only June July and August, and not have to pay for insurance for the rest of the year?

Mohsen K, GTA

Not really. Technically you can, but all the insurance companies know full well that 90% of your writing happens in June, July, and August, and a little bit in the shoulder seasons. Very few riders statistically will ride over the winter and spring. So as the insurance companies are pricing that, they price it for those main bulk seasons; essentially it’s a three-month policy that they are allowing you to pay throughout the year. So it’s not as if there’s going to be a big credit back if you cancel it in October. They know you’re not really going to ride then, and that’s what they’ve priced it for.

Hi Adam,
Is there any impact on your motorcycle rates if you have 20 years experience driving a car with no tickets or accidents?

Skip in Toronto

Most of the insurance companies care primarily about your driving record with a bike. Being ticket free is really important, and being accident-free is really important, but they really want to see your experience in handling a bike. So if you’re able to ride your bike accident-free for a decent amount of time, you’re a better risk statistically–less likely to crash–than somebody who hasn’t put in the mileage, but does have 20 years driving a truck.

So you want to have both your auto and your motorcycle records clean with a good insurance history without a lot of at fault claims. Less claims, less tickets, and more experience equals better rates.

“Ask Adam” is a monthly feature where Adam Mitchell takes the mystery out of insurance with plain-language answers to the questions that matter to you. Have a question for Adam? Just send it to us via Facebook or Twitter—and be sure to add the hashtag: #askadam.

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  1. Shawn Graham-Reply
    January 25, 2018 at 9:56 am

    In your answer to Why Ontario Motorcycle Insurance is so expensive.

    You say that for a 25year old with M1 policy is over $2100 and $246 of that is for the bike and remainder is for Health coverage. To cover cost of fixing driver. Even if it is a not at fault accident.

    Does this make sense? We have OHIP that would cover any costs of medical, how is it that the insurance company would be paying medical? And if it is not at fault, is that not why the other driver pays liability? To cover us?

    • Mitchell and Whale Team-Reply
      February 2, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Excellent question. In Ontario, the OHIP handles critical injuries, whereas the auto/motorcycle policy pays for non-professional services.

      A simple example would be breaking your arm in a motorcycle accident. The cost of visiting the hospital, x-rays, doctor assessments, cast and so on is paid under OHIP.

      Not covered by OHIP are things like additional medication such as painkillers prescribed outside of the hospital, physiotherapy, loss of income for missing work, caregiver support etc.

      You can learn more here under ‘Where Does the Extra Cost of Motorcycle Insurance Go?’.

  2. David Nicholson-Reply
    February 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Adam

    I’m moving to Toronto from the UK. I have a 3 year work permit and I’m looking to bring my bike with me. I have a 2015 Triumph Explorer and was wondering what Insurance costs would be like.

    I have been riding for 40 years and will have a clean sheet from my current insurance company.

    Look forward to your reply.

    • Mitchell and Whale Team-Reply
      February 8, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Hi David,

      Unfortunately, insurance companies in Ontario will only recognize Canadian and USA riding records. To get credit for your experience from another jurisdiction other than Ontario you must be able to transfer your motorcycle license to a full M class, which isn’t possible between Ontario and the UK, so you’d be considered a new rider. You can read more about transferring your license to an Ontario license here.

      According to the information posted on the government of Ontario webpage, it doesn’t look like you would be eligible to transfer your motorcycle license over to a full M class, but if you have a G class equivalent for driving a car, you may be able to transfer that.

      To get recognized for your auto insurance history make sure you bring an insurance letter of experience and your driving record with you.

      If you would like a quote on what it would cost to insure your bike in Ontario feel free to send us an email at and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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