Buying a motorized vehicle whether it's on two or four wheels tends to bring up the question of whether insurance is necessary.
A dirt bike is a motorcycle, right? And motorcyclists need insurance. But I'm riding off-road. I'm on the Motocross track. My dirt bike is not even street legal. All legitimate excuses. But accidents happen and unless specifically written in to your policy, homeowner's insurance and traditional car insurance do not cover anything that happens to you, your dirt bike or others in the event of an accident.
Why You Need Dirt Bike Insurance
Usually dirt bike crashes involve the ground, the rider and the dirt bike. Sometimes a yard sale involves other riders but every now and then property or innocent bystanders get involved. This can happen when a first time rider rolls the throttle sending the dirt bike into a nearby car, or when someone screws around in places they shouldn't, or a careless rider in the pits or near a campsite where cars and dirt bikes comingle, does a header into the side of truck.
Oops, that'll cost you - Photo: WSVN.com
Whatever the happenstance, if you ride a dirt bike into a vehicle, a person or property and it's determined you're at fault then expect to pay up. How you pay up depends on whether you carry liability insurance. Similar to causing a car accident with your vehicle, your dirt bike insurance company pays for the damage you caused by riding into another car or worse, a bystander. Expect your premiums to rise but at least your bank account remains intact.
Another reason to get dirt bike insurance is for theft. We included this in our Dirt Bike Theft Prevention Tips. It happens and happens more than you think. If you've got an expensive ride tricked out with the best aftermarket parts it pays to pay for dirt bike insurance. Vigilance counts but if a thief has their eye on your dirt bike, the minute you look the other way is when your dirt bike belongs to someone else. If you're insured at least you can recoup some of the financial loss and rebuild.
Lastly, you can also get insurance to cover for damage on your dirt bike. Crashing or track mishaps, damage during transportation or even accidentally knocking over your bike can cause expensive damage you can't pay for. Fire protection is also something to think about. Insurance against damage is one way to get you back riding sooner rather than later.
Rider and dirt bike may not walk away from this unscathed
One circumstance that might require insurance is financing a dirt bike. Your bank or the finance company providing the funds may not approve a loan unless you get insurance coverage and provide proof.
Why You Don't Need Dirt Bike Insurance
Understand, insurance adds cost to your hobby. Typically though, dirt bike insurance premiums are not exorbitant and if you're lucky some insurers offer a discount if added to an existing policy. The other thing to know is most dirt bike riders don't find dirt bike insurance necessary - though when the time comes they always wish they had it.
Unlike car insurance, dirt bike insurance is not law in every state. Dirt bike insurance is not the same as motorcycle insurance either since one is street legal the other is not. If you have a street legal dirt bike then you fall under the guidelines of a regular motorcycle and getting insurance is the law.
Additionally, keeping it solely on the track counts in your favor against paying for liability insurance since it is a closed-course racing situation. You would not be held financially responsible for crashing into other riders or even spectators as part of a racing situation. However, if you trail ride, accidentally hitting a passerby can set you up for a lawsuit.
As for damage coverage, dirt bikes get banged up and crashing is part of the sport whether you're on the track or trails. Scratches and dents don't count. Realistically, the only time damage coverage comes into play is when the bike is a total loss and the insurance payout may not be worth what you paid every month.
In the end, dirt bike insurance is entirely up to you. It can provide peace-of-mind for the worrying type but those with tight pocketbooks might feel like it is just throwing money away. Most riders roll the dice and forgo the extra costs and hassles dealing with insurance companies. It's one of those things that you'll probably never need, but when you do, you'll wish you had it.
Be vigilant, check with your local DMV and your car and/or homeowner's insurance carrier for information in your state on coverage for dirt bikes. DMV.org offers additional insight including motocross-specific insurance.