Insuring Your Ride: Do You Really Need Insurance for an E-Moto?

Insurance on your E-Moto?

If you’re like me, you’ll hate the idea of paying for something you hope you’re never going to use. Insurance is exactly that. Pay your premiums, and cross your fingers you’re never actually going to need to call on the help of your insurance company. But… I’ve personally never not had insurance on any of my cars, dirt bikes, motorbikes, or anything of any substantial value. I’m not a risk taker, so I don’t like the idea of chance. It turns out my new truck was written off late last year when another motorist failed to see me and tagged the rear at 60mph. Don’t ask, I don’t know how he didn’t see me! Luckily my family were all ok, but without insurance, I wouldn’t have been able to replace my daily drive.

Insurance on registered on-road vehicles seems obvious, and yes it’s probably needed – in fact it’s required in most states. But what about off road motorcycles or e-motos? This is where it all gets a bit gray-area, and frankly, a bit boring. GritShift is basically a bunch of people building world-class e-motos and parts, so when it came time to tackle the topic of insurance, we just about fell asleep at the handlebars. We owe a big thanks to our sister site, Dirt Legal, for bringing us up to speed on the complex world of e-moto insurance.

Let’s discuss where high-powered electric dirt bikes sit in the world of insurance, what happens if they are for on-road use, or classed as an electric bike, or if you’re only using them offroad. Keep in mind that all information here is general and serves to help point you in the right direction – we are fellow motorcycle riders, not lawyers! 

Riding a Surron off the beaten track.
Riding e-motos off the beaten track. Does insurance cover this? Read on…

E-Moto Classifications: Class 3 E-Bikes and More

Before we jump into all the different types of insurance, let’s quickly have a look at the different ways e-motos have been classified. This will start to determine what kind of insurance you may be looking for. E-motos generally fall into one of these categories:

  • E-bike or electric bicycle: In some states, e-motos can be classed as a Class 3 e-bike. Sometimes you will need to add a pedal kit to comply with the rules, in other areas you are just limited to a top speed. For further information, this website gives state-by-state information.
  • Off-road motorcycle: This is the same as an ICE dirt bike, you can ride it on private property such as a MX track, but can’t ride it on the road in most states. 
  • On-road motorcycle: This is the same as a typical registered motorcycle. You will most likely need headlights, turn signals and more to comply with motorcycle rules. It also includes a requirement to have a motorcycle license. 

The next thing we need to look at is where are you going to be riding your e-moto. Location will determine what, if any insurance is needed. Your situation will generally fall into one or more of these use cases:

  • Track days/competitive events: Each event will have its own rules, some offer insurance for the one day, or an annual fee. I’ve included this dot point as typically motorcycle insurance doesn’t cover any competitions, so to be covered there you’d need to get that coverage separately, sometimes as part of the event itself.
  • Off road: Typically no insurance is required.
  • On road: We asked the fine folks at our sister site, Dirt Legal, for clarity: “It depends on the state. In all states it’s considered a motorcycle unless it’s a Class 1, 2 or 3 e-bike. A Surron or Talaria is considered a motorcycle in Florida for example, where no insurance is needed on motorcycles. In many other states, it is.” If you’re looking to register your e-moto as street legal, click here to check out what Dirt Legal can offer.
Starting at TKO emoto event
If competing or participating in ride days, it is a good idea to check insurance requirements.

If you were registering a normal vehicle, it would be obvious which category and use case it would fit into, and you might not get a choice in the matter at all. But when it comes to high-powered e-motos like Surron and Talaria, thanks to the newness of the niche and the gray area that the machines themselves fall into, you can largely get them into any category you want. How you outfit your bike determines whether you can register it as an e-bike like a Schwinn or a legitimate on-road motorcycle like a Harley. The choice is yours – build your bike to fit whatever requirements you want to meet.

Types of Insurance

So, you’ve started to work out what class or type your e-moto fits into (or where you want it to fit into), now to work out if you need insurance, want insurance, or just are not going to bother with insurance. 

If you’ve insured regular motorcycles before, then you can skip the next section as the same basically applies to motorcycles and e-motos. 

If you have a registered, on-road motorcycle, typically there will be a minimum level of insurance required for property damage and medical bills which is known as liability insurance. It varies from state to state, so you will need to carefully check the rules where you live. Most insurance companies cover a range of options in your policy, from paying for damage to other property, damage on your own motorcycle, medical bills for yourself or others, and more. 

It pays to take a few extra minutes and read the fine print. Look for things like: Do you get OEM replacement parts? Are the parts at cost value or a deprecated value? What happens if you have done lots of mods – are the aftermarket parts covered? What about your safety gear? Yep, reading the Ts and Cs is monotonous, but if you need to activate your insurance after an incident, you’ll be glad to know exactly what is covered. 

emoto in the water
Always read the fine print to see what is or isn’t covered!

Pointing out the obvious, if you are in a location where you can, and choose to, legally register your e-moto as a motorcycle, you will need a motorcycle license. You will also most likely need to make a few modifications to make your e-moto street legal, such as headlights and turn signals.

Getting a Professional Opinion

Dirt Legal Logo

Want some advice on how to make your e-moto legal on the road? Our sister site, Dirt Legal, excels at eliminating the red tape standing between you and the open road. Click here to explore their services and learn how to get on the road faster and easier with Dirt Legal.

How do I register an e-moto for road use?

We asked the fine folks at our sister site, Dirt Legal, for clarity around street legal e-moto insurance: “It depends on the state. In all states it’s considered a motorcycle unless it’s a Class 1, 2 or 3 e-bike. A Surron or Talaria is considered a motorcycle in Florida for example, where no insurance is needed on motorcycles. In many other states, it is.” If you’re looking to register your e-moto as street legal, click here to see how Dirt Legal gets it done.

Do you need to register your e-moto before looking into insurance?

Dirt Legal says: “Usually not. Some insurance companies may want it registered [with the state] first, but it’s usually not required.”

What happens if you don’t register your e-moto for on road use?

As mentioned, check your local laws as they are all slightly different. See what the minimum requirements are, then work from there. Be aware of the difference between riding on private property, and riding on the road. Some states won’t allow you to ride an off-road motorcycle or e-moto on the road, or even a bike path. Unbelievably, some even have rules about what you can and can’t do on private property!

How much does insurance cost?

How long is a piece of string? Insurance varies greatly between providers, it always pays to shop around or get a reputable agent to look into different providers. This may sound boring, but check the fine print! There is usually a reason why something is more expensive than others. Don’t pay for things you won’t be needing, but also make sure you’re adequately covered if you do call on your insurance as we talked about earlier. Costs will vary depending on many factors; age, driving record, modifications on your motorcycle or e-moto, the value you want insured and any extra bits and pieces like medical coverage or wage coverage. You could also discuss increasing the deductible value, so if you need to make a claim, you pay extra at that time and not in your payment options.

Is insurance really necessary to ride on the road?

Short answer: check your local laws. Parental answer: you should probably have insurance even if it’s not expressly required. If you ride a road registered e-moto on the road, chances are: yes, you’ll need a minimum level of insurance. If you ride off road, or your e-moto falls into an e-bike category, then chances are no, you won’t need insurance, but you could choose a level of insurance coverage if you wanted to.

What about private property and off-road riding?

If you’re riding on private property, with no Lamborghinis in sight to accidently hit, then insurance is probably not necessary. Remember it’s not just the total cost to replace your motorcycle or e-moto, it’s the potential cost to fix any damages caused to other people’s property or worse, if you need to pay their medical bills. I personally have at least liability coverage on my dirt bikes and motorcycles; I even have liability coverage on my kite board! If you’re not sure where to start, head to Dirt Legal’s website to learn more.

Ultra Bee emoto
Riding on private property has different requirements

The Verdict: If In Doubt, Get Insurance

In the United States, it’s a good idea to have some form of insurance coverage on any motorized vehicle that uses public roads even if your local laws don’t require it. High-powered e-motos like Surrons and Talarias are no exception, and they often have top speeds that can greatly exceed those of standard electric bicycles – even when some states put those two machines in the same category. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a gray area, one that could leave you owing thousands of dollars in property damage or medical bills, or at very least being out the money to repair your own bike when it was damaged by someone else.

The complexity often comes in convincing your insurance company to cover such a non-typical vehicle, and in titling and registering that vehicle for road use when required by law to do so. That’s where our sister site comes in clutch. With their vast experience registering all kinds of vehicles, Dirt Legal can not only get your Surron, Talaria, or any other high-powered e-moto on the road with a license plate and title to show for it, they can also help guide the way to insurance companies that know exactly what you need. Click here to head to Dirt Legal and get your tires on the pavement the right way.

Do you have your e-moto insured? Do you think insurance is a giant sham? Had the thought of insurance never occurred to you at any point until you read this article? Let us know in the comments below. 

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