What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle?

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

After a serious motorcycle accident, one of the worst possible outcomes is having the insurance company declare your beloved bike a total loss. The trauma of the crash itself is devastating enough without also losing the motorcycle you cherished.

Understanding your rights, knowing what to expect from the insurance process, and having a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer advocating for you is important.

Let’s walk through what happens when the insurance company totals your motorcycle and how a motorcycle accident lawyer can help protect your interests every step of the way.

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Motorcycle AccidentThe very first priority after a motorcycle wreck is getting the medical care you need. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s wise to get checked out by a doctor right away.

Some serious conditions like head injuries and internal bleeding may not show symptoms immediately. Failing to promptly seek treatment can not only jeopardize your health but also hurt your legal case down the line.

The insurance company may pressure you to give a recorded statement or sign medical record releases. At the same time, you’re still in shock from the accident and unsure of the extent of your injuries.

Do not do so without first consulting a motorcycle accident attorney. Innocuous-sounding statements can be twisted against you later.

Signing blanket medical authorizations gives the insurer free rein to dig through your entire health history in search of anything they can use to deny or minimize your claim.

An experienced lawyer will deal with the insurance company on your behalf, ensuring you don’t inadvertently say or sign anything that can hurt your case.


The insurance company will declare your motorcycle a total loss if the cost to repair it exceeds a certain percentage of its fair market value. This percentage varies by state and insurer but is typically in the 70 to 80 percent range.

If your bike isn’t worth much to begin with or the damage is extensive, the insurer is likely to total it rather than pay for repairs.


When a motorcycle is totaled, the insurance company has to pay you its actual cash value – what it would have sold for before the accident. They’ll determine this amount based on factors like the make, model, age, mileage, condition, and prior damage. They may come up with a shockingly low figure, nowhere near enough to replace your bike.

If you disagree with the insurance company’s valuation, you must prove your bike was worth more.

Gather evidence like:

  • Dealer quotes for the same year, make, and model in similar condition
  • Receipts for upgrades and customizations
  • Service records showing it was well-maintained
  • “For sale” listings for comparable bikes in your area

The insurer will likely push back, requiring you to submit your evidence and plead your case through multiple rounds of negotiation. Having a savvy motorcycle accident lawyer handle this process takes the stress off you and levels the playing field against the billion-dollar insurance company.

A lawyer will know the tricks they use to lowball valuations and how to effectively counter them to get you fair compensation for your totaled bike.


Replacing Customizations and Gear of MotorcycleMany riders pour their hearts and hard-earned money into customizing their motorcycles. From purely cosmetic changes to performance enhancements, these modifications can significantly increase a bike’s value. If your motorcycle is totaled, you deserve compensation for that lost value.

Likewise, the crash likely destroyed much of your gear. The insurer should pay to replace damaged safety equipment and personal items like your helmet, riding suit, gloves, boots, and even the contents of your saddlebags.

Unfortunately, the insurance company won’t make it easy to recover the value of custom parts and personal belongings. They may claim mods were done incorrectly and blame them for increasing the damage. Or they might argue your gear had pre-existing wear and tear and, therefore, isn’t worth as much.

To give yourself the best chance of recouping what you’ve invested, keep all receipts, take photos of the damage, and push back on lowball offers with the help of your lawyer. A lawyer can pressure the insurer to treat you fairly and, if needed, present your case for customization and gear replacement value to a jury.


Dealing with a totaled motorcycle is even more stressful if you still owe money on it. The insurance company doesn’t care about your loan – they’re only obligated to pay the current actual cash value of the bike. If you owe more than it’s worth, you’ll have to pay off the balance even though you no longer have the motorcycle.

This nightmare scenario is called being “upside down” or “underwater” on your loan. It’s a common problem due to the rapid depreciation of new bikes and the popularity of stretched-out loan terms that keep payments low but build equity slowly.

If you have gap insurance, it should cover the difference between what you owe and what the bike is worth. But if you don’t have gap coverage, you’re on the hook for the remainder of the loan balance.

A motorcycle accident attorney can review your insurance policy and financing documents to determine the best path forward.


Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist CoverageIf the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance or high enough limits to cover your losses, you’ll have to turn to your own policy.

Assuming you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it should compensate you for:

However, don’t expect your own insurance company to automatically pay your claim.

When you file a UM/UIM claim, your insurer essentially steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and can be just as adversarial as a third party. They may dispute the severity of your injuries, argue you were partially at fault, or try to minimize your losses.

A motorcycle accident lawyer sends a strong message that you won’t tolerate such tactics and are ready to fight for every dollar you deserve.


As you can see, when your motorcycle is totaled in a crash, you’re thrust into a high-stakes battle with a massive insurance company.

The adjuster may seem friendly and express sympathy for your situation, but make no mistake – their job is to protect the insurer’s bottom line, not look out for your best interests. Without an aggressive attorney advocating for you, you risk being severely shortchanged.

An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer levels the playing field and fights tirelessly to get you maximum compensation for:

  • Your totaled bike, including custom parts and modifications
  • Replacement of damaged gear and personal belongings
  • Medical bills and future treatment costs
  • Lost income and diminished earning capacity
  • Pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages in cases of egregious negligence or recklessness

The sooner you hire an attorney, the better. A motorcycle accident lawyer can take over all communications with the insurance company to protect your rights. Your lawyer will gather critical evidence, handle the complex paperwork, negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and take your case to trial if needed.


If a negligent driver totaled your motorcycle, don’t try to take on the insurance company alone. You’ve gone through a traumatic experience and deserve to focus on healing, not arguing with adjusters. Let an experienced Columbia personal injury attorney fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life.