To drive your motorcycle legally you must purchase insurance for it. Much like car insurance, liability coverage is mandatory. Collision insurance, comprehensive coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorcycle insurance are optional coverages that you may wish to add to your policy.

In the state of California, some residents find it most convenient to purchase liability insurance as a way to establish financial responsibility. There are also other ways to do that, as listed:

  • Visit the CA DMV and make a cash deposit of $35,000. For any additional info, dial (916) 657-6520 or write to the following address:
Department of Motor Vehicles
Financial Responsibility MS J237
P.O. Box 942884
Sacramento, CA 94284-0884
  • Visit the CA DMV and get a self-insurance certificate. Call the agency at the phone number and address you see above.
  • Get in touch with a licensed insurance agent and buy a liability insurance policy.
  • Obtain a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed California company. In case you have doubts where to go, just visit the Department of Insurance online for assistance or dial (800) 927-4357.

Two-Wheeled Vehicles in California

  • A vehicle that has a seat for a rider and operates on two (or not more than three) wheels is considered as a motorcycle. The vehicle can be electrically powered as long as it weighs less than 2,500 pounds and its maximum speed does not exceed 45 mph.
  • A motorized two-wheel device with a floorboard for standing on (when riding) and handlebars is considered as a motorized scooter. This type of vehicle must also have the options of having a driver seat that does not interfere with standing (and riding) and the capability of running via human-powered propulsion.
  • A motorcycle with a 149 cc size engine or smaller is considered as a motor-driven cycle. Make sure before you enter a freeway that there are not posted any signs stating the driving motorcycles is prohibited on the freeway. If so, you cannot legally ride your motor-driven cycle there.
  • Either a moped or a vehicle with an electric motor (not exceeding 1,000 watts) and pedals is considered as a motorized bicycle.

Helmet Requirements

You are obliged to wear a helmet when driving your motorcycle in California. The state requires all drivers and their passengers as well, always to wear approved safety helmets when on the road, regardless of the type of motor vehicle you are driving.

Insurance Requirements

Here’s the minimum liability insurance the state of California requires:

  • $5,000 for damage to property.
  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.

Bear in mind that all providers do not offer the same rates. It is advisable to research different types of motorcycle insurance before you make a decision. After buying a policy, your provider will give you a document or ID card.

Remember to have this proof of insurance with you whenever you drive your motorbike. You will need to show the proof in case you get pulled over by a policeman, or if you are an involved party in an accident. You do not need to provide evidence of liability insurance for the following:

  • Special equipment vehicles.
  • Trailers.
  • Off-highway vehicles.
  • Vehicles registered to a government entity (city, county, state, federal).
  • Vehicles registered under a planned non-operation (PNO) status.
Last updated on Thursday, October 15 2020.