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We only looked at companies that write motorcycle insurance in at least 40 states, with no special eligibility requirements.

This means we left out some niche providers that might be great for certain people, such as USAA, which is only available to servicemembers and their families. (If you belong to an organization like USAA with membership discounts on insurance, you should definitely look at that option too.)

We checked their financial stability.

All our finalists have top financial strength ratings from at least two of the major independent agencies: A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s. You never want to worry about your company’s ability to cut a check. After all, if they can’t pay out, what’s the point?

We required our top picks to insure against the five coverage types with the biggest potential costs.

While most states only require coverage for one type (liability), it’s not the only type of loss worth considering, even for an inexpensive policy.

  • Liability. Required in most states. Covers damage and injuries you cause to other people and property.
  • Medical expenses. Required in some states, optional in others. Covers your own medical bills after an accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist. Required in some states, optional in others. Covers injuries and damage caused by someone with little or no insurance.
  • Collision. Optional in all states. Covers repairs to your bike and equipment if you’re in an accident.
  • Comprehensive. Optional in all states. Covers repairs and/or replacement of your bike and equipment resulting from damage or theft.

We evaluated companies on their available discounts.

If you do things to lower your risk, the best companies lower your premiums. We tallied points for discounts like going claims-free, taking a safety course, and installing anti-theft devices.

Then we checked their claims records.

Since claim fulfillment is really the essence of quality insurance, we wanted to know how quickly and easily each company pays its claims. Without actually buying policies and fabricating claims (which is illegal), we relied instead on two external sources. The first is J.D. Power’s most recent 2015 US Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study, which surveys auto insurance policyholders’ satisfaction with their company’s claims handling. The second is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ 2015 “Complaint Ratio, ” which measures consumer complaints against a company relative to its market share. The national median is 1, so a score lower than 1 means the company had fewer complaints than most. Our top picks all came in under the median for this metric.

Six nationwide providers met our standards: Progressive, Nationwide, Markel, Foremost, Allstate, and Safeco.

Our next step was an apples-to-apples quote comparison.

We drew up eight different policyholder profiles and collected quotes from each of our finalists, checking the relative impact of three key factors: age, motorcycle model, and coverage amount. Our specific models — the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim 103 (cruiser) and the Honda CBR650F (supersport) — are North American best-sellers in their respective categories. For the comparisons below, we used the following sample profiles:

  • Profile A: 30-year-old male; Liability 25/50/20; Uninsured Motorist 25/50/15; Comprehensive ($1, 000 deductible); No collision coverage
  • Profile B: 30-year-old male; Liability 50/100/25; Uninsured Motorist 50/100/0; Comprehensive ($250 deductible); Collision ($500 deductible)
  • Profile C: 60-year-old male; Liability 25/50/20; Uninsured Motorist 25/50/15; Comprehensive ($1, 000 deductible); No collision coverage
  • Profile D: 60-year-old male; Liability 50/100/25; Uninsured Motorist 50/100/0; Comprehensive ($250 deductible); Collision ($500 deductible)

Foremost and Safeco didn’t give us immediate quotes; at the time of this writing, they still hadn’t emailed us our quotes, days later.

Bike: 2016 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim 103 (Cruiser/Standard)
Location: Illinois (Minimum Liability: 25/50/20)

Profile A

Profile B

Profile C

Profile D

Progressive $446 $908 $972
Markel $501 $921 $328 $604
Allstate $787 $1, 424 $1, 286 $2, 308
Nationwide $548 $1, 296 $471 $1, 114

Bike: 2016 Honda CBR650F (Supersport)
Location: Illinois (Minimum Liability: 25/50/20)

$1, 254 $387 $1, 042
$909 $1, 899 $624 $1, 060
$1, 504 $2, 849 $2, 432 $4, 601
$563 $2, 300 $432


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