Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 15, 2020

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There are few things in the world that can match the exhilaration of a motorcycle.

These vehicles offer a level of freedom unlike anything else, but they also come with some unique risks for even the most experienced riders.

Anyone who is getting ready to get on their new bike and hit the road should take a look at these tips to make their next adventure both safe and legal.

Note: Cool ride! Image credit: chicagomotorcycleswap.com.

File Paperwork Early & Requirements

Waiting until the last minute to file legal and financial paperwork can be disastrous, and most new riders should expect at least 30 to 60 days of red tape before they will be able to ride.

While information does change between each state in the U.S. and each province in Canada, there are some basics to consider.

First, the registration and pink slip must be updated to its current location and owner.

These documents will need to be valid before the rest of the process is carried out.

Requirements by State to be Legal

The riding requirements can vary wildly by state. You want to be sure you comply. Even for motorized bicycles too.

Below I have outline the requirements by state. All you have to do is find your state in the “search bar” to check them out.

Insurance Requirements

The insurance requirements will be different from cars, but it is still mandatory throughout North America.

Most riders will want to consider a policy that goes well beyond the legal minimum coverage requirements.

Motorcycle accidents have a much higher risk of causing serious and lifelong injuries, and riders may want to choose a slightly larger policy that will encompass long-term injuries.

Best Motorcycle Companies by Claims & Ratings

Below I have created a table list of the top insurance companies with ratings and the average quote.

The average quote is for a rider 32 years old and riding a touring type bike. With no major traffic violations in the past three years.

The two most important factors for a rider is the average quote and claims satisfaction.

*Most consumers will not consider the financial strength of a company. I used Standard & Poors (S&P) and A.M. Best to determine the financial strength of the listed companies. When the rating is low for a company should a consumer make a determination to buy a policy or not.

**Claims satisfaction is from JD Power & Associates which produces the best overall purchase experience and overall claims satisfaction in evaluating the best auto insurance companies.

Motorcycle Safety Checklists – T-Clock

While the numbers have gone down, there are still over 4,500 fatalities from motorcycle accidents every single year.

One of the best ways to reduce your chance of having an accident is to make a habit out of checking your bike and safety gear before any ride.

T-Clock Motorcycle Pre-ride Safety Checklist

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation created the T-Clock system for a pre-ride safety checklist.

Below I have created a table for ease. To show more for easier viewing increase the number or rows. 

This should include a quick look over the brake lights, turning signals, helmet, fluids, and the battery on your phone.

Riders will also want to take a few moments before their ride to look at upcoming weather so they can avoid unsafe conditions.

Practice On and Off the Road

What sets an average rider apart from a safe rider is the compulsion to continue learning about riding and becoming as proficient as possible.

Chart showing the amount of deaths by year from 2011 to 2016

Note: Motorcycle deaths have been steady for the past five years. However, this is more than double the average from the late 1990’s which was 5%. Now the death rate is more than 10%.

Statistics source IIHS.org.

This should begin well before a rider has their license and everyone should consider taking multiple practice tests before they test for their final DMV motorcycle permit test.

After that, it is a good idea to take a safety course every few years to brush up on your skills.

Deaths by year for riders not have a proper license.

Note: As illustrated, 27% of deaths from a motorcycle accident are from riders not having a valid license.

Statistics source IIHS.org.

This is especially important for those that ride intermittently.

Riders who continue to improve their own skills as well care of their bike and safety gear will drastically lower their chances of any serious mishaps will riding.

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