Best Motorcycle Insurance in California

Fact-checked with

Riding a motorcycle in California is a good deal. Enjoying the great weather and lane splitting to get around traffic jams are only some of the benefits, but you want to make sure that you’re also getting a good deal financially.

Though a number of factors go into calculating rates for insurance premiums, based on the profile that we invented (mentioned below), getting covered as a motorcyclist in California will cost you an average $69 a month or $829 a year. This is more than twice the listed national average, though rates will vary based on what’s included in your coverage. Either way, insurance is not something you want to skimp on, especially for motorcyclists. That’s why we set out to find the best possible deal from local providers, seeking the cheapest California motorcycle insurance quotes for the best coverage, at both state-minimum and upgraded levels. Your individual quotes can vary a lot depending on where you live, how you drive, and many other factors. Do a quick check below to compare with your own quotes.

Compare Affordable Motorcycle Insurance Rates in California

Save money on motorcycle coverage with our simple comparison tool.

Our methodology for determining the Best Motorcycle Insurance in California was similar to The Simple Dollar’s national review on the subject –– we started with the eight biggest companies that met the same coverage and financial stability requirements as the national review: an “A-” or better from A.M. Best. They also had to offer all of our “must have” coverages: collision, comprehensive, medical payments, liability and uninsured motorist coverages. Then, we cut out three (Nationwide, Dairyland and Foremost) that did not write policies directly in the state of California. Then we tested the quote process and got estimates for both basic and upgraded coverage in two different cities.

We got quotes for Lenea, a California girl who would make Katy Perry proud. She’s 30, single, and rides a cute yet fierce Honda Grom. It’s fun but cost-efficient, and the narrow design makes it easy to park and maneuver around town. She has a good driving record and uses her bike to commute to and from work. She’s currently renting in San Francisco but looking to move somewhere more affordable, maybe out near Sacramento. In the meantime, she needs insurance that will meet the state requirements but won’t break the bank.

Pricing was a big factor during our evaluation, but we also took into account other factors, such as customer service and coverage options. Remember: price is important, but a cheap, sub-par policy can cost you far more in the long run. Finally, we stacked up the available discounts to determine which California provider can give you the most for your money.

The Best California Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle Insurance CompanyAwardMy Quote
EsuranceBest Overall (Cheapest Upgraded and Bare-Bones Policy)$18/Month
ProgressiveRunner Up$86/Month
MarkelHonorable Mention$57/Month

California Motorcycle Insurance Reviews

Esurance: Best Value

What makes Esurance the best value among motorcycle insurance providers was the extremely reasonable quotes for both bare-bones ($18 per month) and upgraded coverage at $56 per month. Esurance’s upgraded protection is cheaper than even the bare-bones policies of both Progressive and Markel.

The appeal isn’t just about the numbers, however. There are also a number of great resources for customers such as an app for filing claims, updating policy information, and other functions on demand. The website has helpful articles on various FAQ topics and a clear walk-through of the claims process focused for motorcycle riders. Esurance doesn’t provide the option to see agent in person, but this is a minor issue compared to such economical pricing and other conveniences.

Be warned, however, that the $18-per-month, bare-bones policy is truly just that. It covers the state minimum for personal liability, injury, and property damage, and there is zero coverage beyond that. This means no uninsured motorist coverage, no replacement costs if Lenea’s bike is totaled or stolen, and no compensation for the other risks that await California riders.

On the plus side, J.D. Power rated Esurance as above-average for customer satisfaction in the California region. Additionally, for Lenae’s upgraded policy, I increased coverage for bodily injury and property damage and added uninsured motorists coverage. However, you should be confident and clear on the ins and outs of motorcycle insurance in order to make informed choices. Do your research to make sure your good deal will continue to help you save and not cost you money in the end.

Markel: Best specialized motorcycle coverage

Markel’s pricing is objectively more competitive than Progressive, but you get what you pay for. The website, as well as the quote experience, is sparse and perfunctory. There is an informative step-by-step breakdown of the claims process, but no educational resources beyond that.
As with Esurance, there didn’t seem to be the option to reach out to a local agent in person. Also similar to Esurance, the bare-bones policy is really bare-bones. Your $57 a month will cover you at the state minimum for injury, liability, and property and nothing else. Add-ons and increased deductibles are possible and encouraged.

That said, the price is right. Even upgraded coverage was quoted at only $112 per month. For Lenea, this included upping the limits on the state minimums and adding uninsured motorist coverage at the same levels. Similar coverage was $144 per month with Progressive and $56 per month with Esurance. In addition to the reasonable price point, Markel is unique in that they are the only California motorcycle insurance provider that specializes in bike coverage. If you own a special kind of bike or are looking for a specific type of coverage, such as rental reimbursement, mechanical breakdowns or funeral reimbursements, Markel may offer coverage options that competitors simply can’t. If you prefer a specialized experience, Markel will give you just that at a reasonable price.

Progressive: Best for perks and discounts

Progressive also provides a smooth customer service experience for its users. With the exception of an app (only Esurance had that), all of the major processes are online, including claims filing and policy purchasing. In our sample quote, Lenae was able to get a good driver discount, one of many that progressive offers its riders. Other perks that progressive customers can take advantage of include motorcycle endorsements for riders with a motorcycle license, motorcycle association membership discounts, homeownership discounts, automatic bill pay and pay in full discounts as well as perks such as accident forgiveness, OEM parts guarantees and additional discounts for installing anti-lock brakes and taking a safety course.

With Progressive, it’s about what you’re getting for your money. Overall, Progressive has more available discounts, more options for coverage and more resources for customers than many of its competitors. That earned Progressive more points in our book. Even if more discounts and coverage choices didn’t apply to Lenae’s quotes, other motorcyclists may appreciate having all their needs met under one policy.

For that extra $29 per month, Progressive delivers more than Markel and adds some nice touches. For instance, whereas the bare-bones policy from Markel is extremely sparse, both the bare-bones policy and the upgraded policy from Progressive include enhanced injury protection for $250 a week for lost income. That could make a major difference in quality of life if and when a serious accident occurs. Also included in both are roadside assistance, total loss coverage, and other practical perks. If Lenea can afford another $29 a month to get the basic policy from Progressive rather than Markel, she should go opt for that and enjoy the added peace of mind that comes with it.

Compare Affordable Motorcycle Insurance Rates in California

Save money on motorcycle coverage with our simple comparison tool.

California’s Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements

All motorists in California must have insurance. For motorcycles, the state requirements are at least $15,000 for each person injured in an accident, up to $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. In insurance terms, this is expressed as 15/30/5.

It is possible to get coverage at even lower limits, thanks to the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This is a program designed for low-income and other drivers who experience barriers to securing coverage by other means, and it allows riders to be insured at 10/20/3. You may need to ask your provider or reach out to the California Department of Insurance for more details.

The cheapest motorcycle insurance in California isn’t always the best.

Before you purchase that bare-bones policy and ride off into the sunset, here are some things you should know:

  • In 2015, California had the most motorcycle thefts of any state in the nation with 7, 221. San Francisco ranks 3rd among U.S. cities for motorcycle theft.
  • California has the highest number of uninsured drivers in the country with 4.1 million according to the Insurance Research Council.
  • In 2013, motorcycle collisions injured approximately 11,780 riders and passengers in California. 480 were killed. They were primarily from the 25-34 age group, followed by 15-24-year-olds.
  • A non-fatal motorcycle crash can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $1.4 million depending on the severity of the injuries. Non-fatal disabling injuries cost an average of $80,700.

Taking this into account, I would recommend upgraded coverage of at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 for property damage plus uninsured motorists coverage of at least the same.

Consider the following hypothetical situation: Lenae is running late to work. She takes a right turn too sharply and the bike slips out from under her. The bike collides with a car driven by an uninsured motorist. She sustains serious injuries and is off of work for months as she recovers. Not only does she suffer a loss of income, but the medical bills and damages to the uninsured car soar to $80,700.

The minimum coverage from Esurance of $15,000 per individual would leave $65,700 unpaid. Purchasing that policy ($18 per month) rather than the upgraded coverage ($56 per month) would save Lenae $456 per year in the short-term. However, for only $38/month more, the $80,700 in costs could be completely covered, up to $300,000 per accident for injuries and $50,000 for property. In addition, the upgraded policy would include uninsured motorist coverage to handle the damages to the car, up to $50,000, and leave plenty of room for other unexpected costs.

Paying an additional $38 per month for such high levels of coverage may seem unnecessary, but costs associated with motor accidents can quickly spiral out of control. In addition, with so many uninsured drivers in the state, paying a bit extra for that coverage seems essential. A little foresight can prevent a lot of stress in the financial aftermath of a collision.

If you’re going San Francisco…

… be sure to have sufficient funds for insuring your motorcycle. Your zip code can make a huge difference in your quotes, as I found below:

Minimum Coverage
San Francisco, CA
Upgraded Coverage
San Francisco, CA
Minimum Coverage
Antelope, CA
Upgraded Coverage
Antelope, CA

Perhaps unsurprisingly, owning a motorcycle in San Francisco is going to cost you more than in other places. Besides the inflated costs of things like fuel and repairs, you’ll also be paying approximately 59% more than the state average for your insurance. This ranks as the 3rd most expensive in the state, and this was reflected in the quotes I got for Lenea.

Antelope, CA is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. A suburb just a short distance from downtown Sacramento, Antelope is mostly newer construction and residential areas, which limits many of the risks that insurance providers expect in more urban areas. Also, Antelope is mostly flat, and fewer hills mean less money spent on fuel to add to those savings on your motorcycle insurance, around 10% less than the state average. As my quotes confirm, Lenea could definitely save money on her premiums by moving to an all-around more affordable area.

The Bottom Line

Esurance is the hands-down winner for convenient service and competitive pricing. Progressive has more on the convenient service end, and Markel is more competitive in pricing, but either one can provide the upgraded coverage you need to stand up to the risks of the uninsured and unintended in California. Different zip codes can have wildly different premiums, so get your own quotes for the best information on how to insure your ride.

Compare Affordable Motorcycle Insurance Rates in California

Save money on motorcycle coverage with our simple comparison tool.

Frequently asked questions about motorcycle insurance

What is a lay-up period?

Lay-up insurance offers riders coverage during months when they aren’t actively riding. Because the risk of theft or vandalism still exists even when a bike is locked up in storage, lay-up insurance provides protection for potential damages, while omitting coverage for liability, medical and collisions. The lay-up period is typically during the winter when snow and cold weather prevents most riders from riding.

Can I bundle my motorcycle insurance with my home and auto insurance?

Many insurance companies offer policyholders the opportunity to bundle their home and auto insurance together. A few of the benefits that come with doing this are potential discounts, including savings of up to 30% on premiums; the ability to receive one monthly bill for all payments; and the ability to pay one deductible if both your home and motorcycle are damaged simultaneously. Reach out to your coverage provider to find out if they offer bundling as an option.

How can I lower my motorcycle insurance rate?

The price of motorcycle insurance premiums is the product of a number of factors. While some of these factors, like age and where you live are more or less out of your control, there are things you can do to chisel away at your monthly rates. By working on your credit score and enrolling in rider safety courses, you can show insurance providers that you are a responsible rider, which will encourage them to lower your rates. Many providers also offer discounts if you implement safety measures such as anti-lock breaks and anti-theft devices on your bike. To find out what discounts you may be eligible for, reach out to your provider.

Can you insure a motorcycle without a license?

Even if you can’t drive a motorcycle that you own, it may still be a good idea to get it insured. Because theft and vandalism can happen even when your bike is in storage, getting adequate insurance that covers such incidentals is recommended. To see what coverage options are available to you as an uninsured motorcycle owner, reach out to your coverage provider.