There are many types of vehicles on America’s roadways. Some of these vehicles are very similar, yet have important differences from an insurance perspective. Millions of people across the country rely on scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles for transportation and recreation. Their differences, however, help determine what, if any, insurance coverage is needed for their operation on roadways. In this guide, we’ll explore the similarities and differences of these vehicles, allowing you to make informed decisions about your insurance needs.
Scooters, Mopeds, and Motorcycles: Basic Definitions and Differences
On the surface, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles may look very similar, but in the eyes of the law, these machines are distinct. It can be useful to understand the basic definitions of these vehicles and how they relate to insurance coverage.
A scooter is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle with a step-through frame configuration and a footrest or foot platform area. Sometimes referred to as motor scooters, these typically have small gasoline motors in the 50cc to 250cc range. Models with larger motors can also be found. In addition, there are electric-powered scooters on the market. The key difference between scooters and motorcycles is the step-through frame. Scooter riders are generally required to obtain a motorcycle operator’s license to drive them on roads.
A moped is also powered by a small gas or electric motor, typically in the range of 50cc or smaller. These vehicles look like overgrown bicycles, right down to the pedals. Those pedals help propel the vehicle, and the motor provides additional power. Mopeds generally have a maximum speed of 28mph, and cannot be operated on highways due to their low top speeds. State laws vary, and in some cases, a moped owner may not need a specific motorcycle license (or any license at all) to operate them on roads.
Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles that are configured with a centrally-mounted motor, a gas tank positioned above the motor, and a seat behind the gas tank. Engine displacement varies from small 250cc models up to 1000cc or more. Their key difference is in the way the rider straddles the machine, unlike stepping through the frame like in a scooter. Motorcycle owners must have a motorcycle-specific driver’s license to operate them on roadways.
According to a leading online financial resource, 46 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia require liability insurance for motorcycles and scooters. By contrast, only 24 states require liability insurance for moped operators. There are certain exemptions for moped insurance, particularly for those with very small motors or low top speeds.
Even if insurance isn’t required by state or municipal laws, vehicle owners know that their machines represent a significant investment. If something were to happen to the motorcycle or scooter, such as in a crash, the repair or replacement costs can be substantial. Add in the potential for bodily injury or property damage and their related costs, and insurance begins to make a lot of sense.
Each state has different coverage limits for bodily injury and property; speak to an insurance professional today to learn more about what insurance you may need and what options are available in your area.
Covering your investment with an insurance policy is a smart financial move, allowing you to enjoy the open road and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle with the peace of mind that you and your machine are protected from unforeseen circumstances.