Because of the inherent risks that come with driving a motorcycle, insurance coverage should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, for many bikers, insurance is left by the wayside resulting in devastating consequences.

The Importance of Motorcycle InsuranceHere are a few of the startling statistics that make it easy to see why motorcycle insurance is crucial, even for seasonal or occasional riders:

1. Rates of Death: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 4,798 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2006.

2. Rates of Injury: The National Safety Council estimates a motorcycle accident that causes serious bodily injury occurs every 14 seconds in the U.S. Approximately 87,000 motorcycle riders were injured in 2006.

3. Rates of Theft: The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates there were a total of 46,667 motorcycle thefts in the U.S. in 2011.

4. Safety Standards: Several states have repealed the helmet laws while high performance bikes are increasing in popularity. This combination of risk factors leads to more accidents and serious injury.

The best way to protect yourself on the road is to practice safe driving skills and wear all the necessary protective gear including a helmet while riding. The Motorcycle Safety Association encourages all riders to wear a helmet, eye protection, jacket, gloves, long pants and high-top boots or shoes. Always drive defensively, remain aware of your surroundings, and make yourself more visible to other motorists.

However, you cannot control the actions of other drivers, and not all accidents or collisions can be avoided. This is where insurance becomes essential. Most states require all bikers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage. This protects others against damage you may cause, but it is important to cover yourself as well. Collision coverage pays for damage to your bike caused by an accident, while comprehensive coverage pays for damage from other perils; including fire, theft, and vandalism.

These three combined will give you the coverage necessary to pay for damage you may cause, and any injuries you may suffer as a result of others. In addition, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you financially against those who may cause an accident without insurance.

It is important to note that the insurance company will pay for damages after you meet your deductible, and will only cover the book value of your bike. If you add any additional accessories to your ride (chrome parts, custom paint job, sidecars, etc.), you may want to get additional or optional equipment coverage. Understanding the basic policies and how they work together to protect you will enable you to make an educated decision when buying a motorcycle insurance policy.