motorcycle driving down a forest road

August 22, 2017

Ask Adam: Motorcycle insurance special

4 min read


In this installment of Ask Adam:

  1. Cost of insurance vs. value of motorcycle
  2. Insurance for custom bikes
  3. Rider training discounts
  4. Standalone motorcycle insurance
  5. Sportsbike blacklists
  6. Multiline discounts for experienced riders
  7. Advice for first time riders
  8. Seasonal motorcycle insurance
  9. Impact of automobile driving history on motorcycle insurance rates

Have a question for Adam? Just send it to us via Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag: #askadam.

Hi Adam,

Why would it cost me $3,000 – $4,000 for first time insurance when I only paid $1,500 for my starter bike?

John in Scarborough

The $3,000 – $4,000 for your bike insurance isn’t related to the value of the motorcycle, but your likelihood of being injured and the potential cost of your medical benefits. More than half of all auto insurance policies, especially motorcycle, are calculated according to your likelihood of getting injured, and the resulting cost of rehab, income replacement, and other expenses. Because there are no airbags or seat belts on a bike, and because you have no experience, you’re really likely to have an incident and really likely to be injured in that incident.

So on your $1,500 motorcycle, about $100 – $200 might go to ensuring the bike itself; the rest of the coverage amount is based on the likelihood of your injuring yourself or someone else. Your age and the type (not value) of motorcycle are bigger factors in the cost of motorcycle insurance than the value of your bike.

Hello Adam,

I’m thinking about getting a custom motorcycle, probably a nice chopper – but I’ve heard they’re impossible to ensure, is that true?

Rick M – Toronto, Ont

No it’s not impossible – it’ll just cost a little bit more. There’s a lot less competition for companies that will insure it, but you still have options.

Whether it’s a custom chopper or vintage Triumph, you can get insurance for it as long as it’s legal for the road. If you can get it on the road at the MTO, you’ll be able to get coverage for it somewhere, though you might be left with only one or two markets for it.

Hi Adam,

A lot of people do the basic rider training when they get their M2. Are there any companies that offer discounts for the that? What about for advanced rider training?

Karen S – North York

There are really big discounts for doing the rider training, so it’ll pay for itself in the first year or two. Echelon is one of the companies that will give you an additional level of discount on your bike insurance if you do the advanced rider training.

Hi Adam,

I’ve heard that a lot of companies won’t insure motorcycles unless they’re bundled with other coverage. Is this true, or can I get insurance for my bike only?

Scott, Toronto

It’s definitely possible to get insurance on a motorcycle as a standalone product. Some of the companies do offer up to a full 50% discount on bike insurance as an incentive to bundle other products such as your home, tenants, and auto insurance. And while some brokers and direct writers will shy away from standalone motorcycle coverage, you certainly have options, and we can certainly do it.

Hi Adam,

I’ve heard about a mythical blacklist for sport bikes. Is there a central database that blacklists them? It seems like nobody wants to touch them.

Francois G

There are bikes that are more expensive to insure, but if it’s legal to ride, you can get insurance for it. If you don’t have enough experience, and if the bike is heavy horsepower and fast, you might end up with Facility, but the sport bike blacklist is indeed a myth. Different insurance companies have different lists of bikes they don’t want to write, but if you’re dealing with a broker that has enough markets, you’ll have options.

If you have a sport bike and you have very little experience, you can get insurance, but it’s going to be really expensive because your risk of injury and crashing or something going wrong is quite High. But if you have 10 years experience with that sports bike, you have a couple more options, and it can get a lot more competitive.

Hey Adam,

Are multiline discounts only available to experienced riders?

Bobby F – Toronto, Ontario

If you fit into an insurance company that offers multi-line discounts, you’re eligible, no matter what your experience or age. You just need to fit into that particular company’s underwriting criteria.

Hi Adam,

What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about riding a motorcycle for the first time?

Phil G

Get a small starter bike that you can handle the weight and the horsepower of, take the driver training course, and then deal with a broker that understands your passion for bikes. That way you’re not treated like a pariah, and they’ll understand that you want to ride this bike, that you love this bike, and as a broker, they’ll likely have options for you to suit that passion of yours.

Hey Adam!

With riding being seasonal, is it possible to only pay for June, July and August, and not have to pay for insurance for the rest of the year?

Mohsen K, GTA

Not really. Technically you can, but all the insurance companies know full well that 90% of your riding happens in June, July, and August, and a little bit in the shoulder seasons. Very few riders statistically will ride over the winter and spring. So as the insurance companies are pricing that, they price it for those main bulk seasons; essentially it’s a three-month policy that they are allowing you to pay throughout the year. So it’s not as if there’s going to be a big credit back if you cancel it in October. They know you’re not really going to ride then, and that’s what they’ve priced it for.

Hi Adam,

Is there any impact on your motorcycle rates if you have 20 years experience driving a car with no tickets or accidents?

Skip in Toronto

Most of the insurance companies care primarily about your driving record with a bike. Being ticket free is really important, and being accident-free is really important, but they really want to see your experience in handling a bike. So if you’re able to ride your bike accident-free for a decent amount of time, you’re a better risk statistically–less likely to crash–than somebody who hasn’t put in the mileage, but does have 20 years driving a truck.

So you want to have both your auto and your motorcycle records clean with a good insurance history without a lot of at fault claims. Less claims, less tickets, and more experience equals better rates.

“Ask Adam” is a regular feature where Adam Mitchell takes the mystery out of insurance with plain-language answers to the questions that matter to you. Have a question for Adam? Just send it to us via Facebook or Twitter—and be sure to add the hashtag: #askadam.


Note: The information above is for general purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Be sure to talk to your broker if you have more specific questions about insurance, and especially if you need answers that are specific to your circumstances.

Have questions about motorcycle insurance? Don’t be shy, call to speak with a specialist broker. We’ll let you know your motorcycle insurance options in Ontario and answer any question you might have.

Looking for motorcycle insurance?

Speak with a Mitch Insurance broker today to get a quote on Ontario motorcycle insurance.


    In your answer to Why Ontario Motorcycle Insurance is so expensive.

    You say that for a 25year old with M1 policy is over $2100 and $246 of that is for the bike and remainder is for Health coverage. To cover cost of fixing driver. Even if it is a not at fault accident.

    Does this make sense? We have OHIP that would cover any costs of medical, how is it that the insurance company would be paying medical? And if it is not at fault, is that not why the other driver pays liability? To cover us?

    Excellent question. In Ontario, the OHIP handles critical injuries, whereas the auto/motorcycle policy pays for non-professional services.

    A simple example would be breaking your arm in a motorcycle accident. The cost of visiting the hospital, x-rays, doctor assessments, cast and so on is paid under OHIP.

    Not covered by OHIP are things like additional medication such as painkillers prescribed outside of the hospital, physiotherapy, loss of income for missing work, caregiver support etc.

    You can learn more here under ‘Where Does the Extra Cost of Motorcycle Insurance Go?’.

    Hi Adam

    I’m moving to Toronto from the UK. I have a 3 year work permit and I’m looking to bring my bike with me. I have a 2015 Triumph Explorer and was wondering what Insurance costs would be like.

    I have been riding for 40 years and will have a clean sheet from my current insurance company.

    Look forward to your reply.

    Hi David,

    Unfortunately, insurance companies in Ontario will only recognize Canadian and USA riding records. To get credit for your experience from another jurisdiction other than Ontario you must be able to transfer your motorcycle license to a full M class, which isn’t possible between Ontario and the UK, so you’d be considered a new rider. You can read more about transferring your license to an Ontario license here.

    According to the information posted on the government of Ontario webpage, it doesn’t look like you would be eligible to transfer your motorcycle license over to a full M class, but if you have a G class equivalent for driving a car, you may be able to transfer that.

    To get recognized for your auto insurance history make sure you bring an insurance letter of experience and your driving record with you.

    If you would like a quote on what it would cost to insure your bike in Ontario feel free to send us an email at and we’ll be happy to help you out.

    Hi. I am 23 year old male. Just got my bike lisence through a course I took.
    Could I go on my uncles insurance as an occasional rider and pay less ?

    Hi Mitch,

    Happy to answer your question. Always good to ask. If you are going to have regular access to the vehicle, you need to be listed on the policy. Most insurance companies will rate for the highest rated rider, so you would pay the same as if the policy were in your own name. The best way to lower your rates after shopping around is to build up a clean riding history. New riders have more accidents than experienced riders, so once you have experience, you can expect to pay less than a new rider.

    I just want a policy with the bare minimum as required by law $200k coverage I have my own prescription plan and do not need the additional froth on the policy – the bikes worth beans it’s 30 years old – Back in the UK it would cost me about 80 bucks a month and that would cover me for any bike I owned up to a cc range or borrowed unlimited.

    Trouble is here the insurance industry is unregulated case in point I decided to commute rural roads with a VW beetle vs my Range Rover and the policy was the same – I pay 3 times what I paid in the UK despite 17 years clean abstract

    As for recognizing M licenses I just got the Drivetest to record and backdate my UK motorcycle experience to 1987 as well as the fact I completed 4 step graduated training the issue is not the licensing body but the insurance cartels that will happily insure a Valkyrie 1800 over a Ninja 1200 citing performance yet the reality is being caught stunting I wouldn’t be able to work as a truck driver again yet they will insure a classic performance car on heritage policy for pennies on the dollar – What would shake this up would be access to underwriters willing to offer Act only Coverage like a No Frills policy – That’s what the marketplace wants and would remove the perpetual ambulance chasers and repeated klutzes that demand new parts for 15 year old cars.

    Good chatting with you on Facebook, Dominic. A couple of points to remember regarding motorcycle insurance in Ontario are:

    1. Although the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will set your motorcycle licence date back to your date in the UK, Insurers do not recognize it as experience and therefore rate as new rider.
    2. Auto insurance in Ontario is heavily regulated. Companies have to all offer the same standard auto insurance policy as outlined by the government. The government allows for some standard optional coverages to be purchased to increase your coverages over the legal minimums.
    3. Ontario has no fault insurance, which means that your insurance company pays for your claim, rather than the other drivers insurance. What this means, is if you are sitting at a red light on your motorcycle, and a car runs you over, your insurance company will be paying for your accident benefits. If you need to go beyond and meet the tort deductible you can then sue the other driver.
    4. When it comes to motorcycle insurance, the expensive part isn’t your liability, or insuring the motorcycle, it’s insuring your body in case of injury and with no fault insurance, your company is still on risk if you get hit by a car. Your insurance is “expensive” because you are worth a lot of money.
    5. The government won’t allow someone to offer a “no frills” policy with only $200k in liability with out accident benefits. You can purchase a policy with a liability limit reduced to $200k, but if you are involved in an accident where the other driver decides to sue you, your insurance company will only defend you upto $200k limit. That means if you are sued for $1million dollars, your insurance company will cover you up to $200k and cover your defense up to $200k and you are responsible for your own legal fees and payout for the other $800k. With million dollar lawsuits being commonplace, you are under-insured if you only have $200k in liability insurance and any licensed insurance broker would advise against it. The $200k limit has not been adjusted for decades, has not been adjusted for inflation, or been adjusted to account for the current litigious environment.

    If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask us, either here or by speaking with one of our brokers.

    I’m going to be a first time motorcycle rider at 56. The bike I’m getting is a 1999 Harley Davidson Springer. I live in Renfrew Ontario, how much would it cost me a year?

    I live in Ottawa, I ride a 2009 HD Heritage Softail and I’m paying over $850/year, with no fire and theft, just $1M liability. I’m 51, never made 1 claim in my entire life (knock on wood), never had a ticket, been riding since before I walked, bike is always garaged, at home and at work. I’ve been with the same insurance company for a decade. I ride no more than 3-4000 km per year. Considering this riding season started late, the actual cost per month is outrageous. Gotta remember that liability is totally worthless between November and April. Also, I have my work insurance that would cover any medical expense in case of an accident. How can insurance be so expensive?? Just a few years ago I was paying around $500-600. Would you guys be able to give me a better rate than $850?

    Hi Adam. I am a 65 year old male, I own a 1991 Honda Nighthawk 750cc. The bike is in perfect condition and is 28 years old right now. I have no speeding tickets on it and no claims, I only have PL/PD, no fire or theft. It is stored from Oct 15th until April 15th. I pay about $39.00 a month or around $470 a year for the insurance. I ride it for roughly 4 months each year and put on about 4000kms during that time. My insurance company said I am not able to cancel the insurance for the months I do not ride unless I pay a penalty, of which I am not sure. I am thinking of switching companies to see if I can get a better rate. Seems that I pay more than I should considering I do not have fire or theft. What would you do if you were me and is the amount I pay reasonable for PL/PD only?

    Hi Randy,

    The premium may seem high, especially for six months of riding, but the fact is motorcycle rates have been going through the roof in recent years, mostly because of the high cost of healthcare when a crash leads to an injury.

    In terms of cancelling for the winter months, it doesn’t really make sense for a few different reasons. The first is that your annual premium isn’t split evenly by month. Insurers know that in Canada, riders store their bikes in the winter, so they assign most of your premium to the riding months.

    The following are just estimates based on the information you’ve provided:

    If you need insurance for the six months between April 15 and 0ctober 15, that time accounts for 87.5% of your annual premium. See the short rate table in this blog post. If you haven’t cancelled already, you’re on the hook for 90%.

    Assuming you made a downpayment, then you’ve probably paid just over $350 to date. If you cancelled right now, because of the uneven distribution of premiums (weighted heavier in the summer months), instead of getting a refund, you’d still probably owe the insurance company an additional $70, plus a cancellation penalty that’s usually around 10-15% (so, say $40). So for the privilege of cancelling, you’d save all of $10 on your annual premium.

    Then, when you try to get a new policy next year, you’ll lose any discount you might have had for continuous insurance, which can be 5-10%. So, you could end up paying more.

    The truth is that insurers prefer that you not cancel every winter and then get new insurance in the spring. It’s more paperwork for them. That’s why they weight the premium the way they do, that’s why they offer discounts for continuous insurance, and that’s why there’s a cancellation penalty.

    Sorry the news isn’t better, but we hope this explains why it doesn’t make sense to cancel your motorcycle insurance in the winter. Read the blog post in the link above for more details.

    I’m pretty sure you won’t find a better rate, but we’d be happy to get you some quotes, and you’re not obligated to switch if it doesn’t make sense.

    So if my boyfriend drove a motorcycle for years but didn’t have his m for ten years then he bought one again why can’t he get insurance ? He is being denied because he’s considered a new driver…

    Hi Trina.

    We know that sometimes insurance companies can make rules that don’t seem to make sense. Your boyfriend probably still has all the skills needed to safely operate a motorcycle. Hence the expression “It’s like riding a bike”. The fact is that insurance companies only give discounts for years of experience because they’ve learned from past claims over the years that recent experience makes a difference in the likelihood of an accident. They probably haven’t seen a similar reduction in the risk of an accident when the experience is less recent. We know that doesn’t help your boyfriend, but that’s how insurance works. Rates are always set based on past history with similar risks.

    We’d love to give your boyfriend a quote, but based on what you’ve told us, he will be treated like a new rider, and the rate will reflect that.

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