What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle?

Published On: January 5, 2024
Categories: Motorcycle Accidents

You’ve spent countless hours customizing your beloved motorcycle, only to have it demolished by some irresponsible driver. When you received your repair estimate, you heard the damage was greater than the bike’s value. In other words, your bike is totaled. The accident wasn’t your fault, but now you’re dealing with insurance companies and trying to recover damages for your totaled motorcycle.

Don’t get discouraged – with the right legal strategy and representation, you can successfully file an insurance claim and get fair compensation. A motorcycle accident attorney in New Port Richey can help negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you receive a fair and reasonable settlement for the total loss of your motorcycle. You have rights as an insured consumer, and the at-fault party’s insurance is obligated to make you whole again. This includes providing coverage for the cost of your totaled bike.

Below are some tips to navigate the claims process, maximize your settlement, and get back to riding as quickly as possible. Stay determined, and don’t back down – you deserve to be reimbursed for your losses.

Speak to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Legal Assistance

Before the insurance process moves forward, consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer regarding your legal options for recovering your losses. Losses include the costs of replacing your motorcycle and additional damages related to lost income, pain and suffering, and similar losses from injuries you suffered.

Many motorcyclists without legal representation end up with far less than they deserve for their property damage and injuries. Hiring a motorcycle accident attorney is your greatest asset as you proceed with an insurance claim against an at-fault driver.

When Is a Motorcycle Generally Considered a Total Loss?

Serious motorcycle accidents often happen when another driver drives negligently, thereby leading to severe injuries to the motorcyclist as well as substantial property damage.

The law defines a salvage or totaled vehicle as one where repairing the vehicle and fair salvage value costs more than its fair market value or FMV before it was damaged.

What is the Scrap Value?

A motorcycle’s scrap or salvage value refers to how much money you can get for selling the motorcycle to a scrap or salvage yard at the end of its useful life. Here are some key points to keep in mind about motorcycle scrap values:

  • Scrap yards purchase old, non-functioning, damaged, or totaled motorcycles based on their weight and metal composition, which they can then resell to metal recycling plants.
  • The scrap value offered is usually calculated as a dollar amount per pound, though some scrap yards may offer a fixed price per motorcycle based on weight, model, etc.
  • The scrap price reflects the base commodity value of the metallic components alone, not other parts that might be stripped for reuse or resale beforehand.
  • Obtaining valid title paperwork on a motorcycle scrap is generally unnecessary compared to selling a used and complete motorcycle to a private party.

So, selling an old, wrecked motorcycle for scrap will net a small monetary return for the raw materials – often from $50 to $150 for most street bikes.

If your insurance company declares that your motorcycle has been totaled, it will compensate you for the full market value minus the deductible.

If your motorcycle is totaled and/or you suffered physical injuries, you should consult with a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer to ensure a fair settlement.

Why You Need Legal Assistance

You can prevent delays when filing an insurance claim and take a more aggressive stance with a lawyer’s help. They can answer your questions and ensure you receive full compensation for bodily injury claims and physical damages.

What Is a Motorcycle’s Fair Market Value?

We’ve already mentioned the fair market value of a motorcycle. More specifically, the fair market value (FMV) calculates what a buyer will pay to buy a motorcycle in its pre-accident condition if the motorcycle is listed for sale.

More importantly, a motorcycle’s FMV differs from the potential Kelley Blue Book (KBB) value listed for autos. In some cases, the bike’s value in the KBB may be far less than its actual FMV. That’s why you should consult a lawyer.

THE KBB does not always look at all the factors in pricing the bike, including unique features and accessories and customized instrumentation and parts.


It’s also important to review the differences between the FMV of a motorcycle and its actual cash value or ACV. The ACV covers the replacement cost of a new motorcycle while subtracting a damaged bike’s depreciation. Some adjusters may argue that the FMV and ACV are equal. However, an attorney can argue the discrepancies, giving you more compensation for your totaled bike.

Insurance Payments for Totaled Motorcycles

Insurance Payments for Totaled Motorcycles

If an insurance company totals a motorcycle, it is legally required to pay the full market value and subtract the current deductible. Moreover, the insurance company must calculate the full market value at the time of the accident, not when the owner initially bought the bike. If the insurance company totals the motorcycle, it does not pay for repairs.

Features that Impact the Total Value of a Motorcycle

Some features on a motorcycle are tallied into the settlement amount if an insurance company totals your bike. However, your bike may also have scratches, dents, or similar imperfections that an adjuster may subtract from the bike’s FMV.

How Motorcycle Values Are Assessed

Let’s look at some factors that are used to assess a bike’s overall value:

  • Modifications to the motorcycle, such as large rims, custom paintwork, and LED underglow lighting, increase the vehicle’s value.
  • A high odometer reading will reduce a bike’s value.
  • The color of the motorcycle – when it is rare and difficult to find
  • As mentioned, imperfections may lower the bike’s worth

Insurance Negotiations

A motorcycle accident attorney has the experience required to handle the negotiation process with insurance companies.

When negotiations are taking place, your legal representative and the insurer have an adversarial relationship. Because you’re an accident victim, your goal is to receive as much money as possible so you’re compensated fairly.

An insurance company is in business to make money, so its goal is to pay out the minimum amount and avoid the payout of significant monetary claims.

Handling Discussions With the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company

Your attorney can help with discussing your claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. They will explain how the accident happened and that your motorcycle was totaled. They will also back communications with a police report, photos, and repair or replacement estimates as evidence.

  • To begin the negotiation, your lawyer will provide a recorded statement of what happened. With your input, they will explain how their insured’s negligence caused the crash and demand they accept full liability.
  • The insurance company will likely start with a minimal amount to see if you’ll take it. Normally, your lawyer will politely reject the offer and reiterate why you deserve full compensation for the motorcycle’s total loss and injuries.
  • Your attorney will research to determine a comparable bike’s fair market value. They will include additional damages like loss of use, rental fees, and injury-related expenses. You’ll need to provide documentation to justify the total amount you’re seeking.

Your attorney can help put pressure on the insurance company as they aim for a fair settlement. They have experience handling these types of claims and can advise you on the appropriate steps. A lawsuit is always an option if the insurance company fails to meet your expectations.

Staying firm and advocating for full compensation will increase your chances of recovering the maximum amount from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Don’t back down in the face of resistance. Prepare yourself to escalate the issue to realize an equitable resolution.

Evidence that Can Increase Your Settlement Amount

What Happens When the Insurance Company Totals Your Motorcycle

Your motorcycle accident lawyer can improve the insurance company’s offer by presenting evidence to show that the company is undervaluing your claim.

This evidence includes the following items:

  • Documentation that shows your bike had unique and rare features
  • The bike’s actual value, as referred to in the Kelley Blue Book (KBB), plus the value of any unique features
  • Paperwork that shows the claimant regularly maintained their bike
  • The results of an independent motorcycle appraisal

If you don’t agree with the insurance company’s settlement amount, your attorney can file a property damage claim in the court system for extra compensation.

Instead of going to court over a property damage dispute, the parties may agree to arbitration or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Is Your Damaged Motorcycle Underwater?

A damaged motorcycle is sometimes underwater as well. This means the victim owes more on their loan than the motorcycle is worth. Even if your bike is totaled, you still owe on the loan and are legally required to make the payments.

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and that is what motorcyclists sometimes realize when their motorcycle is damaged beyond repair and they still owe money. To prevent this, legal advisors recommend that motorcycle owners obtain GAP insurance before an accident occurs, which leads to this type of problem.

Compensation for Injuries

Many motorcycle riders, when their motorcycle is totaled, also suffer severe bodily injuries. Because a motorcycle rider is vulnerable to their surroundings, they may fall hard in a crash, leaving them to deal with injuries that take a long time to heal. Some injuries leave lifelong impairment.

Common Injuries

Examples of common injuries include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Internal organ damage
  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue contusions
  • Road rash
  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Death

Negligence and Driver Error

One of the common reasons motorcyclists get hit is due to a motorist’s error and negligence. This often happens when the other party disregards the rules of the law and takes the form of driving aggressively, failing to yield the right-of-way, or turning without a signal.

Some drivers may exhibit road rage in the form of tailgating, cutting a motorcyclist off in traffic, or driving recklessly when in close proximity to a biker.

Some motorcycle mishaps happen when the other driver drinks and drives. Drinking and driving often leads to physical and mental confusion, including dizziness, lack of coordination, poor judgment, blurred vision, and a problem with projecting distances. Drivers may also experience delayed reflexes and reaction times.

Moreover, it takes more skill to drive a motorcycle than it does to drive a car. Therefore, drivers in autos are more likely to drive with less care or more haphazardly.

As a result, the driver may not even see the motorcyclist coming around them or in their rearview mirror. This factor and the fact that they can’t stop in time can lead to a severe collision. When a drunk driver is responsible for the crash, they can receive both administrative and criminal penalties. The at-fault driver is also subject to paying the victim damages through their insurance provider.

Some accidents happen when the other driver diverts attention – turning around to discipline a child, roughhousing when driving, or listening to loud music. Texting is also a major problem and concern. Because a motorcyclist may be lower to the ground, these distractions can lead to more wrecks and subsequent claims.

Due to their smaller size and less stable nature, motorcycles are more apt to get damaged when hitting potholes or dead animals. Moreover, drivers are more likely to hit riders when the pavement is slick or there are irregularities on the roadways.

Recoverable Damages

Besides getting compensated for property damage (or the replacement of a totaled motorcycle) and bodily injuries, motorcyclists can also pursue compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity and income, loss of quality of life, lifetime care costs, and loss of consortium and/or companionship.

Christopher Dyer - Attorney near New Port Richey, FL area
Christopher C. Dyer, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in New Port Richey

Get in Touch with a Motorcycle Attorney Now

Have you suffered injuries and damages in a motorcycle accident because of another driver’s negligence? If so, you need to arrange a meeting with a motorcycle lawyer right away. Use the skills of a lawyer so they can aggressively fight a claim on your behalf.

Speaking to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help determine how much you can receive regarding a settlement, arbitration, or verdict. Using their services will help you receive the maximum monetary compensation.

Schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights today.