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UPDATED: Sep 26, 2016
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As most licensed drivers in America know, insurance regulations can be a bit cumbersome when it comes to vehicles not normally considered to be cars or motorcycles. For example, do you need car insurance for a moped?
Questions like this are more common than you would think as demonstrated by the F.A.Q. sections of many state motor vehicle department websites.
As with any questions regarding car insurance requirements, keep in mind that the jurisdiction over insurance issues resides with the individual states. Therefore, different states have different regulations regarding what kind of insurance is required on what type of vehicle.
If you have a moped, or another unusual vehicle that needs to be insured, you’ll need to check with your motor vehicle department or insurance regulatory agency for specific details on state car insurance guidelines.
What exactly is a moped?
While it may be true that the definition of a moped varies among drivers in different parts of the country, in terms of motor vehicle and traffic law there is no ambiguity.
A moped is legally defined as a bicycle with a helper motor.
The size of that helper motor can vary, and different regulations may apply accordingly, but the definition of the moped itself is pretty clear. Minibikes, miniature motorcycles, and small scooters are entirely separate vehicles with different insurance needs.
Do you need a special license to drive a moped?
The California Department of Motor Vehicles requires anyone that is legally able to ride a moped on the road to receive a motorcycle license.
If you only purchased a moped so that you can ride it on sidewalks instead of the street, you probably won’t need to get some type of license and insurance.
The size and speed of the engine on your moped will determine how it must be licensed, as well as where you will be able to ride it. Mopeds that have an engine that is 50cc or larger are technically classified as motorcycles.
Although mopeds are smaller and do not go as fast as motorcycles, they can still cause a sizable amount of damage. If you are to be insured, your insurance company will want to know that you are capable of navigating the roads and driving safely on your moped.
How do the states differ in requiring car insurance for a moped?
How the individual states regulate mopeds is usually determined by engine size or the top speed of the vehicle.
With that said, mopeds with motors up to 50cc are usually fairly inexpensive to insure. They are considered motor vehicles in every state and are subject to the same driving rules and restrictions as other vehicles on the road.
Liability, property damage, and bodily injury minimums will vary according to how the moped is classified. Extra protections such as collision and comprehensive or fire and theft coverage will be optional.
Some drivers attempt to bypass insurance regulations by only operating a moped on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, what many of them don’t realize is that, in most cases, if a moped engine is 5hp or greater, it’s considered a motor vehicle and cannot be legally operated on sidewalks anyway.
In such cases, drivers are not only in violation of insurance regulations but also motor vehicle safety laws.
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How do you get a moped endorsement from your car insurance company?
Your car insurance provider will make it simple for you to get an endorsement for your moped if you know exactly what is required.
Registration and licensing guidelines in Washington State, for example, are easy to determine if you own an automobile. However, moped owners will need to check directly with the DMV.
Basically, all you need to do is ask your insurance agent for an endorsement for your moped. You will need to already have coverage of some type for a vehicle, but adding an endorsement for a moped can be started in a couple steps.
- Provide your insurance agent with a copy of your moped title.
- Give your agent proof of any special licenses.
After that, you will find out how much money it will cost to insure your moped. Once a payment is made to your insurance provider, you will receive your moped endorsement.
What if I only use my moped on private property?
From the standpoint of motor vehicle law, mopeds only need to be registered and insured if the owners plan to drive them on public roads.
- Rural property owners – If you own a farm or other large suburban or rural property, you may choose to operate your moped only on your property, avoiding the legal requirement to purchase insurance.
- But keep in mind that failure to insure the moped puts you at risk of financial loss in the event of an accident, even on your own property. In other words, your auto or homeowners policy will probably not cover moped accidents without an appropriate rider added to one of those policies.
- Sidewalk riders – Owners who live in urban environments are also not required to purchase car insurance for a moped if it is not operated on public streets, but being in an urban environment means that’s much more difficult to do.
- When riding a moped up and down the driveway, there’s always the temptation to pull out of the street, even if for just a quick drive up and back. Any time that moped is on a public roadway it is considered a motor vehicle which needs to be insured.
- In addition, the laws in your area may not allow mopeds to be driven on the sidewalk.
One other important thing to note regarding car insurance for mopeds is the fact that, regardless of whether or not it’s required in your state, it’s always a good idea to have coverage.
Mopeds can be just as dangerous for drivers and passengers as scooters and motorcycles are. Serious injury, property damage, and death can occur as a result of a moped accident. It is simply foolish to operate one without some sort of insurance protection.
Mopeds pose interesting challenges to car insurance companies because they are a hybrid vehicle. Being both bicycle and motorcycle means they need to be insured in a way that takes into account all of their unique properties.
If you own a moped, you are responsible for knowing the regulations in your state and providing the appropriate insurance before operating the vehicle.