Do You Need Insurance for a Moped or Scooter?

More and more Americans are looking for ways to save money on their transportation costs. One solution is riding a moped or a scooter instead of a car. That’s certainly going to save you big bucks when it comes to gas expenses.

But what about your insurance costs? Do you even need insurance on a scooter? And if you do, what’s scooter or moped insurance going to cost you on top of the cost of the bike itself?

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      First, Let’s Define Some Terms

      What’s the difference between a moped, a scooter, and a motorcycle? Well, as far as the laws of most states are concerned, a “scooter” is anything with a motor smaller than 50 cubic centimeters. Anything bigger than that falls into the same category as a roaring Harley-Davidson, no matter what you want to call it.

      And, once you hit that 50 cc limit, the law changes in a number of ways. Some states might not even require you to be licensed to drive a vehicle with a motor smaller than 50 ccs, but they might also not allow you to use the roads in the same way as a car or motorcycle. So the first step is figuring out how big your motor is or, if you haven’t made your purchase yet, how big of a motor you want.

      So Does My Bike Need Insurance?

      If you have a larger bike, almost every state — 46 of them, as well as the nation’s capital — require you to carry motorcycle insurance to legally take it out on the road.

      On the other hand, smaller bikes (those sub-50 cc rides we keep talking about) only require insurance in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Of the states that don’t require insurance on small engine bikes, one, Nebraska, is of the mind that to truly be a “moped,” the vehicle has to have pedals on it. So if you’re still in the bike market in Nebraska, keep this in mind as you shop around.

      Most of the states that don’t require insurance for mopeds also don’t require insurance for a Razor scooter or bicycle that you strap a small motor to, so there’s that to consider as well.

      And four states don’t require insurance for any kind of motorized bike, even a full-on motorcycle: Florida, Montana, Washington, and good old New Hampshire, which doesn’t even require insurance for cars.

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      Define ‘Need’

      Here’s the thing, though: Whether or not you’re required to have insurance on your scooter, you may want it anyway. Motorcycle insurance, including the kind used to insure a big, heavy Harley, isn’t that expensive if you’re just looking for liability and collision insurance — basic protections.

      It’s certainly a lot cheaper than having to shell out in the event that you’re in an accident. There are a lot more uninsured drivers on the road than you think. What’s more, a lot of people just don’t see bikes when they’re driving. There’s a saying, “Loud pipes save lives,” about how those big, loud Harley pipes draw attention to bikes that might otherwise just get plowed over. If you’re on a relatively small and quiet moped or scooter, you’re going to be totally invisible to a lot of drivers.

      Nicholas Pell

      Contributing Writer

      Nicholas Pell is a freelance personal finance writer specializing in student loans, consumer credit and living a champagne life on a Kool-Aid budget. In addition to The Simple Dollar, he’s written for Business Insider, Fox Business, WiseBread and MainStreet.