Motorcycle Insurance and Safety
June 25, 2014
Most motorcyclists are passionate about riding, whether they have the chance to ride each day or only once in a while. It’s a passion that the drivers with whom we share the road rarely understand – any more than they understand how much their inattentive driving can affect us. We live with the simple fact that, in the encounter of car versus bike, the car always wins.
This newsletter is dedicated to motorcyclists and motorcycling. Why? Because the number of motorcyclists we represent has increased dramatically and we encounter the same issues in representing them over and over again. We feel the need to get the word out about how motorcyclists can better protect themselves before they’re in an accident so that we’re able to protect them after an accident.
Too often we’re forced to have a painful reality discussion with our motorcycle clients – discussions not unlike when a physician must inform a patient that there is no cure, no hope for a good outcome. So please pay attention and share this newsletter with the motorcyclists in your life.
Riders know the risks that come with riding and accept those risks. The reality is that it’s not a matter of whether you’ll crash, but rather when. So how do we protect ourselves? Avoid crashes. Be prepared in the event that you do crash. And, hedge the risk with proper insurance coverage.
HEDGE YOUR RISK
Insurance is all about covering our potential losses. We insure ourselves in case we cause harm to someone else and in case someone else causes us harm, and either does not have adequate insurance or does not have any insurance to compensate us. You need to pay attention to the coverage you carry on your motorcycle that covers you. It’s great if your bike is “fully covered” in the event that it’s damaged or destroyed, but what about you? What happens if you’re injured? Are you covered for medical expenses, lost wages, and injuries inflicted upon you?
There are three types of coverage that you need to buy to protect yourself: uninsured motorist coverage, under-insured motorist coverage, and medical coverage –
Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage – this coverage is critically important on a motorcycle policy. Don’t take a chance that the person who causes
your injuries has insurance coverage or has.
PREPARE TO CRASH
Wear protective gear, including abrasion resistant clothing – preferably with CE armor, padded over ankle boots, gloves, and, most importantly, a helmet. (It’s your choice whether to ride without a helmet or wear less than a full face helmet. But after working with motorcycle accident victims for so many years, we truly believe that a full face DOT or Snell approved helmet is essential equipment. We want our, and your, heads and faces to remain intact.)
■ Learn how to ride before you hit the roads. Take a riding safety course.
■ The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses for new riders, returning riders, and even advanced riders.
■ Don’t hit the road with rusty emergency skills. Go to a parking lot and practice emergency maneuvers and emergency stops.
■ Maintain your bike properly. Are you running on old or worn tires? Get new tires.
■ Don’t drink and ride. No one should drink and drive, but you won’t even have the luxury of a steel cage enclosure to guard against your poor choices if you drink and ride.
■ Don’t ride when you’re tired or when you have your mind on something other than riding.
enough insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries. In fact, most people don’t. Buy as much of these coverages as you can afford. But be aware that insurers will often try to deprive you of the coverage that you thought you purchased by refusing to place your motorcycle on the same policy with your automobiles, by issuing separate policies for each vehicle in your household, by pushing you to purchase motorcycle insurance through a different insurance company – often with a similar name, by convincing you to carry low liability limits so that you can’t carry very much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (since you can only purchase an amount equal to the amount of your liability coverage), by convincing you to reject uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, by convincing you to reduce (sign-down) the amount of your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage so that it is less than the liability coverage you carry to protect the people you may injure, and by convincing you to waive stacking (the right to add together the amount of your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your various vehicles for any one claim).
These are each ways of depriving you of coverage. Insist that all of your vehicles be insured on one policy of insurance, if possible. If you can’t get all of your vehicles placed on the same policy, ensure that the policies are at least placed with the same insurer. Purchase liability limits of at least $100,000 and do not reject uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages, do not reduce (signdown) your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages, and do not waive stacking. If you own a motorcycle and carry less than $100,000 in both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you are not adequately insured. If this sounds complex, that’s because it is! Call us and we’ll gladly review your coverage with you.
Medical Coverage – Under Pennsylvania law, insurers are not required to offer. First party medical coverage on motorcycle policies. First-party medical coverage is
the coverage that you buy to pay for your own medical expenses and the medical expenses of your passenger if you are injured while riding your bike. If your insurer offers such coverage, carry as much coverage as you can afford. The benefit of carrying medical coverage on your policy cannot be overstated. There is great peace of mind in knowing that you have the insurance coverage in place to pay for the incredible costs you will incur in regaining your health after suffering even a moderate injury. If you have health care insurance and think that you don’t need medical coverage under your motorcycle policy, think again. Many healthcare insurance policies, health maintenance programs, and health and welfare plans contain provisions which prohibit the payment of benefits when injuries result from use of a motorcycle. Moreover, many such insurers, programs, and plans have a right to recover what they pay for treatment of your accident-related injuries from you – yes, from you – if you recover any compensation for your injuries. You can easily be left with little, if any, compensation if you do not have adequate medical coverage under your motorcycle policy.