Custom Chopper Insurance

Custom Chopper Insurance

A custom chopper can be a beautiful bike to own. Unfortunately, because the bike and frame have been so heavily modified, it can be hard to such a bike. That is often attributed to the difficulty in setting a value on the machine. Let’s have a look at the difficulties with insuring a chopper, a few coverages you may want to have, and a short list of insurers that offer coverage.

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Why Insuring a Chopper Can Be Difficult

The difficulty finding coverage arises because custom motorcycle insurance is not the same as the coverage offered for factory-built bikes. After a bike is customized in a major way, the value becomes difficult to determine. Insurers must have a set value in order to write a policy…no value, no cap to pay if the bike is deemed a total loss. Since these bikes do not have a value in the NADA Appraisal Guide that all insurers use to set policy caps, you and your insurer must agree to a value.

'77 Ironhead Chopper by Dr. Jerimy Cox
’77 Ironhead Chopper by Dr. Jerimy Cox

Arriving at that value is a process in-and-of itself. Your best bet is to have your chopper independently appraised. If it is done professionally, most insurers will agree to the value set by the appraiser. A second consideration could be the laws in your state. Some states require that all custom bikes be inspected for safety by the Department of Transportation or Motor Vehicles Bureau. For instance, in our home state of North Carolina, any bike newer than 35 years old must pass safety inspection. That means rearview mirror, horn, front and rear turn signals (or none at all), and other such items you might not like to have on your custom build. There is no sense in having your chopper or bobber appraised until it has been passed by these agencies.

As to why you may have trouble finding an insurer…on top of the difficulty setting a value for the custom bike, most choppers have extremely high replacement costs, especially if they have quite a few handmade parts. That causes many insurance companies to see a custom chopper as too high a risk.

Chopper/Bobber Coverage to Consider

The appraised value of your chopper will include all custom parts and accessories, but most states only require liability coverage at the bare minimum. This protects you financially against damages to another motorist’s person or property, but liability coverage does not protect your bike in the event of an accident. Your custom chopper or bobber is certainly rolling with an array of handmade or custom aftermarket parts. You will almost certainly want collision and comprehensive coverage.

Collision will protect your bike if it’s damaged in an accident, whether the collision is with another vehicle or a stationary object. Basically, most any mishaps that happen on the road are covered.

Comprehensive, on the other hand, may covers non-traffic accidents and mishaps, such as damage from “Acts of God”:  fire, flood, wind, and other weather events. Criminal activity like theft and vandalism are always covered. Some custom bikes do not qualify for comprehensive insurance, though. The list may include: kit bikes, rebuilt or retitled bikes, or bikes with a non-original frame.

Uninsured/Under-insured motorist coverage: on average, fifteen percent of the motorists in the U.S. do not have insurance coverage. Who wants to pay for damages caused by another motorist? The under-insured aspect of the policy protects you in case the other motorist is from a state with lower minimum requirements or the injuries and repairs exceed the policy caps of an at fault motorist.

Bodily injury coverage: this protection covers certain costs if you injure or kill someone in an at-fault accident. It also protects your passenger. This is typically part of the liability coverage required by your state, and most experts recommend having protection that exceeds the state minimum.

Medical payment coverage: this covers items such as prescription drug payments; dental care; medical co-payments and deductibles from other health coverage policies; home nursing care, or funeral expenses.

How and Where to Insure Your Chopper

You should starting shopping for coverage with large national insurance companies like Progressive, Geico, and Dairyland. Fortunately, we can help. Simply enter your zip code to discover coverage options in your area from such major insurers.

Insure a Chopper

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If you cannot find the coverage that you need there, then contact specialty insurers like Hagerty and Fischer Specialty. Be sure to shop your policy to as many insurers as possible to find the lowest premiums.