Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance for a Moped or Scooter?

Mopeds and scooters are inexpensive and convenient alternatives to your car. They provide rapid mobility even in congested areas and busy towns, and because they often have low-powered engines, they’re cost-effective to run and potentially safer for younger motorists. Before you take your moped for a spin, make sure you meet your legal requirements for insurance. In some states, even if you have a low-powered scooter, you must have motorcycle insurance with liability coverage. Even if it isn’t a state mandate to have a policy, you may want to consider insurance to ensure financial security in the event of an accident to cover medical bills and damages. Most major insurance companies offer moped and motorcycle insurance, so use an online insurance comparison tool to find a suitable product.

Do You Have a Moped, Motor Scooter or Motorcycle?

The definitions for two-wheeled vehicles vary from state to state, and these distinctions often dictate how much insurance you require for your vehicle. Most states define any two-wheeled vehicle with an engine smaller than 50cc and a top speed of less than 35mph as a moped. This definition covers lower-powered motor scooters with a platform for your feet and mopeds with pedals and a motor. If your vehicle meets this definition, you may not require motorcycle insurance, and in some states you may not require any insurance at all.

If your vehicle has an engine greater than 50cc, then it falls into the category of motorcycles. In most states, you require a minimum level of motorcycle liability insurance to title, register and legally operate the vehicle, which may be the same coverage requirements necessary for a four-wheeled passenger vehicle depending on where you live.

States That Require Insurance

Every state has its own insurance requirements. Specific information is available from your local DMV office or your state’s insurance department. The following chart details which states require insurance for two-wheeled vehicles:

State Motorcycle Insurance Moped & Scooter Insurance
Alabama yes yes
Alaska yes yes
Arizona yes yes
Arkansas yes no
California yes yes
Colorado yes yes
Connecticut yes no
Delaware yes no
Florida no no
Georgia yes no
Hawaii yes no
Idaho yes no
Illinois yes yes
Indiana yes no
Iowa yes yes
Kansas yes no
Kentucky yes no
Louisiana yes yes
Maine yes yes
Maryland yes yes
Massachusetts yes no
Michigan yes no
Minnesota yes yes
Mississippi yes yes
Missouri yes no
Montana no no
Nebraska yes no
Nevada yes no
New Hampshire no no
New Jersey yes yes
New Mexico yes no
New York yes yes
North Carolina yes no
Ohio yes no
Oklahoma yes yes
Oregon yes yes
Pennsylvania yes yes
Rhode Island yes yes
South Carolina yes no
South Dakota yes yes
Tennessee yes no
Texas yes yes
Utah yes yes
Vermont yes yes
Virginia yes no
Washington no no
Washington, D.C. yes yes
West Virginia yes yes
Wisconsin yes yes
Wyoming yes no

Note that there’s initially no legal requirement to have motorcycle insurance for any two-wheeled vehicle in Florida, Montana, Washington and New Hampshire; New Hampshire doesn’t require you to have car insurance at all. It may be necessary to purchase insurance and file an SR-22 in these states if you have an accident or a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Most states require you to be financially responsible for any property damage and injuries if you cause an accident. Establishing financial responsibility usually means purchasing motorcycle liability insurance, although some states offer alternatives. For example, in Florida you have three options:

  • Purchase liability insurance
  • Obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate with cash or a surety bond
  • Obtain a Self-Insurance Certificate with evidence of your net unencumbered capital — money you have available that you can use to pay for damages you cause

If you require liability insurance, first determine whether your state defines your vehicle as a moped or motorcycle, and then find out what your state’s minimum insurance requirements are.

Minimum Requirements

Each state defines the minimum liability coverage necessary to establish financial responsibility. For example, in Arkansas, motorcyclists must purchase the same amount of coverage required for a four-wheeled passenger vehicle:

  • $25,000 per person for injury
  • $50,000 per accident for two or more people
  • $25,000 for property damage

Before purchasing an insurance product, check that it meets the minimum requirements and is available from a company that’s legally licensed to issue insurance in your state. If you’re in doubt, contact your DMV or state insurance department.

Renting a Moped

Even if you live in a state where there’s no mandate for motorcycle or moped insurance, most rental companies insist you take out insurance when you rent a vehicle from them. The insurance covers the company’s investment in the event of an accident.

Types of Coverage

Liability insurance covers damage and injury to other parties if you’re involved in an accident. You may decide you want to take out additional insurance so you’re covered in other situations:

  • Collision coverage: Pays damages to your moped
  • Comprehensive coverage: Pays for damage and loss from a non-accident event, such as vandalism or a weather event
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage: Pays your medical and damage expenses if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist
  • Medical payments: Pays for medical costs, regardless of fault in an accident

Choosing the Right Product for Your Needs

The right insurance product for you must, as a minimum, meet all of your state’s legal obligations. You may choose to pay for insurance, including additional coverage, even if it isn’t a legal requirement. Adequate coverage provides financial compensation to replace or repair your vehicle and pay your medical expenses. Use an online insurance comparison tool to find companies that offer products that meet your requirements and budget, and use ratings from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s along with online reviews to determine each company’s financial strength. It’s also possible to research complaints against insurers on the website for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved.
Published September 7, 2016
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