Insuring your motorcycle trip, cover your butt

Comprehensive isn’t as comprehensive as you’d think

Recently, we went on a trip on a motorcycle, had the misfortune of having to call and file a claim. Sad, sad day. My bike was on its side when we came back after a couple of hours of hiking. Someone had vandalized my motorcycle by tipping it over. The most frustrating part about the incident wasn’t actually seeing the damage, but dealing with insurance and navigating their odd legal definitions. I have Progressive Insurance, and my claims agents name is Harold. When I first spoke with Harold he seemed sympathetic to our situation and competent. But within a couple hours, we learned our first lesson.

No one is going to look out for you better than you

To the people you are dealing with at your insurer, it is just a job and your story is one of hundreds they’ve heard.  They have no skin in the game and their day isn’t ruined because yours is, remember that. When you first call though, they sure try to make you feel like they care. My first discussion with Harold ended with him stating the claim would be filed under vandalism, a tow truck had been dispatched to come pick up the bike, and how sorry he was to hear about our misfortune. After a couple of hours and having eaten dinner, we started to wonder where the tow truck was as it should have been there already. So I decided to call back, and good thing I checked on the tow truck. It turns out Harold had gone home for the day and the tow truck that was supposed to be en route, actually wasn’t. The tow truck had never actually been dispatched and the request never completed. The next agent I spoke with completed the tow request and in an hour a tow truck driver showed up. At this point, the bike was on its way out, us though, that was another matter. That was when we learned lesson two.

Progressive Insurance’s Trip Interruption coverage sucks.

That statement is strong because it does, the title is misleading and it really doesn’t do anything to salvage your trip. Let me explain, Progressive’s trip interruption is only meant to reimburse you up to $100 per day for up to five days, for any lodging, food and rental cars needed as a result of having a covered incident with your vehicle. Cool, so if it wasn’t a Sunday before a holiday and there was a rental car place open in the city we found ourselves, this might actually have been useful.  But since the stars didn’t align and every rental car place was closed we had no ride and our trip was cut immediately. This extra coverage called Trip Interruption did absolutely nothing to prevent our trip from being interrupted.  A better title would be incident rental reimbursement.

Record everything and remember insurers make money when they don’t do anything

At this stage in our story we fast forward to Wednesday morning, the bike is at the dealer, and the claims agent calls. Harold called and said that now my claim would be under collision instead of vandalism. I laughed inside because Harold had no idea I was recording him and fortunately my state doesn’t require I let him know.  We went back and forth for a while, but here is the gist of why it was collision according to Harold:

  • Someone hits your motorcycle with a baseball bat – vandalism
  • Someone paints your motorcycle – vandalism
  • Someone kicks your motorcycle and it falls over – collision
  • but the damage from the kick on the other side could be vandalism (I’m serious)

So after about 5 minutes arguing this, he says even if someone pushed it over they call contact with the ground collision.  This is because then you need comprehensive and collision, which equates to more money for them in premiums and increases their recovery rate and revenue. We still disagree here, because the bike is scratched on both sides, but was laying over where it was parked. We all know that motorcycles don’t just fall over without some seriously strong winds. Plus on that day there really had been no noticeable wind, it was a very nice day out. So knowing that ultimately Harold will decide how the insurance company will pay, I gave that fight up.  I had collision and comprehensive luckily, but that leads to lesson four.

Insurers want to get your money and they don’t want to pay out.

Comprehensive basically is going to cover your bike for everything it doesn’t collide with, vandalism (except tip overs), hail, etc. Collision covers your bike when it collides with the ground, even as a result of vandalism.  Insurers want to get your money and they don’t want to pay out, remember that above all. If you don’t want to pay out of pocket for anything that might happen to your motorcycle, you need both collision and comprehensive. Why? Because not having either one of them gives the insurance company a way out to pursue in an attempt to avoid paying for repairs to  your vehicle. If there are no witnesses like in my case, then they have the luxury of taking a stand on whatever interpretation of events they want to declare it vandalism or collision. Don’t expect that they are going to lay down the red carpet and help you every way imaginable, that is not there job. They want you to believe they will do everything to keep you as a customer, but when it comes time to pay up don’t expect it to be so easy. It is absolutely 100% up to you to cover your own butt against any possible situations and protect your ride.

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A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.