The decision of whether to purchase motorcycle insurance may be simple, but choosing how to insure your motorcycle can involve choices you are unaware of.  Your auto insurance policy will exclude coverage for motorcycles, mopeds, and similar vehicles unless you purchase additional insurance to cover those vehicles.  Some companies offer motorcycle endorsements (also known as "riders"), while others offer motorcycle policies exclusive to the motorcycle being insured. 

What's the difference between a motorcycle endorsement and a motorcycle policy, and more importantly, which one should you choose? 

Though the difference between policies and endorsements are not significant, they can affect whether you choose one over the other.  Here's a quick rundown of each:

Motorcycle Insurance Endorsements or Riders

If your insurance company insures your motorcycle with an endorsement to your auto policy, that means that a document (or "rider") is attached to your automobile policy.  This endorsement states how the policy will cover your cycle based on the situations, coverages, and definitions outlined in your auto policy.  Keep in mind that a cycle endorsement may not offer the flexibility that a motorcycle policy can offer.  For instance, with an endorsement, your motorcycle liability limits will be the same as your auto liability limits.  If you have a $50,000 liability limit for your auto, you'll usually have the same limit on your bike, which may not be enough.  One advantage of an endorsement is the single bill you'll receive from your insurance company since the motorcycle coverage is attached to your auto policy.  Check with your insurance agent about whether you can choose different types and levels of coverage with an endorsement.   Some endorsements may not allow you to customize your insurance on your bike, because they only offer the same amount of protection across the board.

Motorcycle Insurance Policies

If you purchase a motorcycle policy, this means your cycle will have its own policy independent of your auto policy.  Cycle policies are created specifically for motorcycles, so they most likely offer more coverage choices that might appeal to you, like accessory and paint job coverages.  With a cycle policy, you can choose your liability limits, and they don't have to be the same as your auto liability limits.  You may want more insurance on your cycle than your car because cycle injuries can sometimes be more devastating than car accident injuries.  You may also be eligible for multi-policy discounts if you insure both your bike and auto with the same company.  Depending on the company, you may be able to get winter discounts when you don't ride during the winter, or you might get a discount for electing a passenger hazard exclusion if you don't anticipate having passengers.  These coverages may be available to you under a separate cycle policy, and not an endorsement to your auto policy.

Both cycle endorsements and cycle policies offer protection for riders and their bikes.  Before you purchase cycle insurance, consider whether you're looking for basic protection or broader protection.  Make sure you discuss your needs and concerns with your insurance company or agent, and remember you don't have to purchase cycle insurance through the same company that provides your auto insurance.  You may receive discounts for going with the same company, but you should check and see if, even with the discounted insurance through your current insurance company, it is cheaper going with a different company for your cycle policy.