While motorcycles operators and their driving considerations are quite different than persons operating other, larger, enclosed vehicles; there is one, major similarity…..the need for insurance protection. Most states have financial responsibility laws requiring you to carry proof that you are able to pay for any damage or injury you may cause while driving. Auto insurance is the way that most people comply with these laws. Typically, drivers are required to carry liability insurance at some minimal limit that varies by state. Liability coverages include the following:
- Bodily Injury Liability–This covers injury that you may cause to other persons. The key is that it involves you being held financially responsible for injuries to other persons because of your driving, your ownership or other use of your vehicle. This coverage does not apply to any injuries you may suffer.
- Property-Damage Liability–This handles damage that you may cause to another person’s property. Again, the coverage only responds when you are financially responsible for such damage and it has to be related to your driving, use or ownership of a vehicle.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage–This coverage typically pays for injury you suffer from an accident caused by an uninsured driver. "Uninsured" usually refers to a person who has no insurance; a person who can't be located ("hit and run drivers"); a person who has insurance but their insurance company is insolvent; and other situations (defined by individual state laws). Important: Payment under this coverage is controlled by the limits mandated by a state's financial responsibility or specific uninsured motorists law that often dictates what limit or limits must be sold. In some states, you may have an option to reject the coverage. Typically, the rejection must be in writing.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage–This coverage typically pays for injury you suffer from an accident caused by an inadequately insured driver. "Underinsured" usually refers to a person who has insurance; but at an amount that is insufficient to cover all costs of the loss that he or she has caused.
Though not, typically, as expensive as cars, motorcycles still are a large investment and should be protected by insurance, particularly when money has been borrowed in order to buy them. Below are typical coverages found in motorcycle insurance policies:
- Collision coverage–This covers damage to your own vehicle that happens when your vehicle runs into another object, such as other vehicles, trees, light poles, mountains, etc.
- Other Than Collision coverage–This also covers damage to your own vehicle that is due to sources such as fire, theft, hitting an animal, vandalism, earthquake, flood or hail.
Unlike liability coverage, both Collision and Other Than Collision coverages are subject to deductibles, the amount of a claim that the policy owner must pay. Deductibles are meant to eliminate an insurer having to pay for very minor losses.
Special Parts and Accessories–This coverage may be part of a cycle insurer’s basic coverage or, quite often, an optional coverage. Typically it pays for loss involving damage to custom equipment that is added to a cycle rather than what is provided by the cycle manufacturer.
- Medical Payments–This coverage typically handles medical expenses for injuries to you while operating your cycle.
- Roadside Assistance–This coverage is to help pay for your costs to deal with a disabled cycle, helping to pay for it to be transported to a location for repairs of to assist with the cost for any repair or service that occurs at the location of the cycle's breakdown. However, this coverage is for labor rather than the costs of parts.
Remember the above information only touches upon some typical insurance issues. It's always wise to contact your agent and discuss your coverage questions and needs in detail. Please also be sure to read part one of this discussion.
In Motorcycle Insurance parts one and two, we discussed the basic coverages available for protecting against losses to the motorcycle and protecting motorcycle operators against loss they may cause to others.
Motorcyclists make up a small fraction of the vehicles that occupy our roadways and, due to weather conditions and changes of seasons, the number of cycles in operation changes drastically throughout the year. Motorcycles, like all other vehicles, are frequently involved in traffic accidents. Unfortunately, since motorcycles are smaller than all other types of motorized vehicles and as users are exposed, rather than enclosed; the consequences of motorcycle losses are severe. Compared to accidents involving enclosed, four-wheeled (or greater) vehicles:
- motorcycles are usually totaled (cost to repair exceeds value of cycle) in a far higher percentage of incidents
- motorcycle riders and passengers are far more likely to be killed
- motorcyclists are more vulnerable to loss caused by distractions
- a higher percentage of fatal accidents involve drivers at extremes (young, inexperienced operators and senior drivers who may have deteriorated driving skills)
- Poor driving conditions (darkness, snow, ice, rain, fog) have a greater adverse impact on motorcyclists
- motorcyclists are more prone to speeding, increasing the likelihood of a crash occurring as well as substantially increasing the chance of a fatal result
Motorcycle operators should avoid behaviors and situations that make a dangerous situation deadlier. It is important that cyclists get proper instruction and licensing to operate motorcycles. Cycles should be operated in a manner to compensate for the fact that many drivers of other vehicles fail to see motorcyclists. Motorcyclists should wear properly rated helmets. Unfortunately, national statistics indicate that helmet wear is declining, even though most states have mandatory helmet laws. While drinking and driving is never a good idea, it is even a more serious problem with motorcycle operation. A higher percentage of fatal cycle accidents involve alcohol use.
While insurance protection is important; motorcyclists are best served by having a mindset to minimize or avoid motorcycle accidents.