Motorcycle accidents can be scary and unexpected. Motorcycles are considered more dangerous for their drivers than cars because of the lack of air bags and cushions in case of a collision. If you are fortunate enough to walk away unscathed from a motorcycle accident, you will still need to consider the no doubt hefty damage to your bike.
Older motorcycles are more likely to be totaled, as old parts are more expensive and difficult to replace. Knowing whether the bike is totaled or not can help you receive compensation for repairs or a replacement.
State vs Insurance Mandates for Totaled Motorcycles
There is a difference in how a state dictates a “totaled” vehicle compared to how your insurance provider may decide what is a “totaled” vehicle. Regulations for both differ depending on your insurance provider and your state.
Your motorcycle may be considered totaled by your insurance provider if:
The damages exceed 50%-75%+ of the motorcycle’s actual cash value
Proper repairs can’t be made for major structural damage
The frame had to be replaced or extensively repaired
If the cost of repairing your motorcycle is higher than the cost of replacing it, your bike may be considered totaled.
What Happens if You Total Your Motorcycle?
When you have a wreck in your vehicle, it is critical to have the damage appraised by an expert. In some cases, a mechanic will be able to tell you if your bike is totaled. They can also give you an estimate on repairs. High cost repairs or repairs that cannot be made due to the parts no longer being available can lead an insurer to declaring your bike as totaled.
After an accident and having your vehicle appraised, be sure to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. Most insurance policies have a time limit in which you can receive compensation for a filed claim. Generally, you must file a claim within 30 days of an accident.
Contact your insurer and inform them of the accident. If possible, keep records of the accident, including location, times, pictures of the damage and the estimated cost of repairs. A claims adjuster from the insurance provider will then investigate the claim to calculate whether your vehicle is totaled or not, and how much compensation you will receive.
In the case of a totaled motorcycle, an insurer will provide only the actual cash value of your motorcycle according to how much it was worth before the wreck, accounting for depreciation. For example, if your motorcycle was worth $1,600 when you first purchased it but has depreciated in value to $900, you will receive closer to $900 in terms of compensation to replace your motorcycle.
Also check your policy to see if it covers rental vehicles, especially if your motorcycle was your main form of transportation. Not all motorcycle insurance policies are created equal, so it is important to know the limitations and exclusions that may apply to your policy.
What if the Totaled Bike is Financed?
If your motorcycle is financed when you total it, you could be in troubled waters without gap insurance. Gap insurance, also known as Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance, helps cover the remaining difference between the cash value of your bike and what you still owe. Without gap insurance, you could be looking to pay your remaining balance out of pocket. Gap insurance does not come as part of a normal motorcycle insurance policy and must be purchased separately.
Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Insurance Claim?
If there is a chance of your motorcycle being totaled, you may want to file an insurance claim on your policy. You should always have the damage appraised beforehand, however. If the cost of repairing your bike are less than the cost of your deductible, it may not be worth it to file an insurance claim. This can also apply to older motorcycles that have depreciated greatly in value. If your motorcycle’s replacement value is less than your deductible, it would likely be more expensive to file a claim than to simply replace your motorcycle out of pocket.
If your motorcycle still has value, however, and is totaled in an accident, you will want to contact your insurance provider to discuss compensation. Your insurer should be kept in the loop about any accidents you are involved in, whether you choose to file a claim or not. Changes with your driving record and motorcycle may have an important affect on your insurance needs and how much you are paying.
Above all, make sure to drive responsibly and defensively on the road to keep yourself and others safe.