Insuring My Passion
by bj max
Back in the sick sixties I never bothered to insure my motorcycle. Why? For one thing there weren’t that many insurance companies chomping at the bit to write motorcycle policies back then and in those days beer took precedence over insurance anyways. But responsibility, like arthritis, comes with age and considering today’s high dollar motorcycles and litigious society, riding an uninsured motorcycle is unthinkable.
The first motorcycle I ever bothered to insure was an ’89 Gold Wing. That’s understandable because not only did I have more money invested in that Gold Wing, more than all my previous bikes combined as a matter of fact, but it was also the first bike I had ever financed. And bankers, being naturally nervous types, want their investment protected so they demand insurance. At that time, both of our family vehicles were insured with the nationally known “Humongous Insurance Company” so it just made sense to go to them for motorcycle coverage. And, seeing as how I already had two vehicles in their “Good Hands”, they were more than happy to insure my bike. They gave me a quote I could live with and I signed on the dotted line.
I was with the “Humongous Insurance Company” for three years and during that time I never filed a claim, I was never late with a payment, I never got a ticket and never had an accident. Pretty good record if I do say so myself. Then one day, from out of the blue, my premium went up. Way up. Seventy six bucks a year to be exact. The reason? The insurance company decided that a state wide increase on motorcycles was necessary. No fault of yours they said. How comforting. Well it wasn’t fair and I wasn’t gonna’ stand for it. So I went shopping and the first place I inquired was “Godzilla Insurance ” where I just happened to have my homeowners. Not only did they beat the Humongous Insurance Company’s price but they also offered me a better deal on my wife’s car and my old pickup truck. So I transferred everything to Godzilla.
Godzilla Insurance, unlike Humongous, really appreciated my business. For a while anyway. Everything was peaches and cream for a couple of years, then, with no advanced warning and no previous announcement of any kind, my premium jumped from $492.00 per year to $658.00 per year. Just like that. I called my local agent, left my number, and a few hours later a clerk returned my call. And guess what? Yep. Another one of those state wide increases…’No fault of yours’ explained the clerk.
I couldn’t believe it. Why would an insurance company risk losing a safe, responsible rider such as myself, by levelling such a ridiculous hike in coverage? It really ticked me off so I decided to ask around and see if I could find any rhyme or reason behind this scandalous affront. I dialed up my Uncle Elk, who just happens to be a retired insurance agent with thirty five years of collecting premiums under his belt. Well, actually, he’s not really my uncle but a distant cousin that I’ve always called Uncle. And he’s a nice guy, nice enough to take the time to explain to me that my insurance company wasn’t out to rip me off. Not personally anyway.
According to Uncle Elk, and yes that’s his real name, insurance policies are written based on risk pools. Automobile risk pools, health care risk pools, motorcycle risk pools and so on. Insurance companies are basically a bunch of folks (stock holders) putting up a bunch of money to protect themselves against losses and damages on policies they write. Actually, the insurance business is a lot like gambling and is based largely on odds. The idea is that the loss of the few who actually file a claim will be covered by the premiums of the whole group, the risk pool, and the odds are that what’s left will constitute a healthy profit for the shareholders.
He went on to explain that a lot of factors determine the premiums paid by members of, say, a motorcycle risk pool. Things like age, driving record, marital status, size of motorcycle, annual miles ridden, and where you live determine your premium. With this information the insurance company determines how much money you should contribute to the risk pool or how much your personal premium should be. That money then goes to pay for losses accrued, if any, by the whole group. Have you ever been told ‘We don’t write motorcycle insurance any more’? All that means is that particular companies motorcycle line of insurance failed to make a profit. And that’s the bottom line here. Insurance companies are in business to make money and if they have a line of insurance that ain’t makin’ no bread, then they will either discontinue that line or, in my case, raise the premium on a state wide or national level.
Well, now I kinda’ understand why my premium went up, and I can appreciate where my insurance company is coming from. But, like the insurance company, I too have a bottom line and my bottom line is, I ain’t gonna’ pay no $658.00 a year for motorcycle insurance.
I never did like the idea of going out of town for insurance. I like personal attention and I like to bump into my agent now and then at the barber shop or grocery store and I like to sit down with him when conducting business and look him in the eye. But at the same time, I was fed up with being kicked around locally. The companies I had been dealing with catered to the four wheeled motorist anyway, so I decided to try my luck with an insurance company that specialized in motorcycles. A company with a bigger motorcycle risk pool if you will. Big risk pool, cheap insurance. Get it?
An ad I had seen in several of the big slick magazines suddenly came to mind. You’ve probably seen it, too. It’s a full page, totally blacked out except for a V-Twin engine in the center and the word “Progressive” written below it. I dug around in some old magazines, found the ad and dialed the 800 number printed across the bottom. The results were a pleasant surprise. Basically, they offered me the same coverage; bodily injury, uninsured motorist, comprehensive, collision and property damage for only $368.00 dollars a year, a whopping two hundred and eighty dollar savings. But, there’s more. Along with the insurance comes a twenty four hour roadside assistance program and a thousand dollars worth of accessory coverage. FREE! Well, at no extra charge anyway. What a deal…
Needless to say, I signed up immediately and so far, everything has been as advertised…There was a $36.00 increase recently when I traded for a new motorcycle but that’s to be expected. Other than that, everything has been as advertised. Now, if I can just get through a few years without one of those pesky state wide increases…