By: David Johnston
You may see car insurance companies on TV advertising something they call "Motorcycle Insurance." In reality, they're selling policies which are often stripped of the very coverage that can be most important to bikers.
The little lizard and the girl in the apron are your worst offenders, but LOTS of companies pitch "Motorcycle Insurance" with the not-so-subtle suggestion that it is somehow cheaper and better than car insurance. Falling for that line is a HUGE mistake! Don't get taken for a ride by the insurance companies.
The Myth of "Motorcycle Insurance"
Right off the bat, you are probably thinking that bikes weigh less than cars and are therefore less likely to do major damage in an accident – and you are right! However, thinking that this somehow translates into lower insurance rates would be applying logic and common sense to the auto-insurance industry – and that would be an error.
The real reason these "Motorcycle Insurance" policies are cheaper is because they strip out coverage – coverage you will need if you are ever in an accident. By stripping this coverage, the insurance company saves money and you ultimately pay the cost.
For example, the little lizard pitches a "Motorcycle Policy" that often takes out the Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. This saves the biker a few bucks in premiums, but costs him huge money if he is hurt by an uninsured motorist. The insurance company even has a special form for you to sign waiving the UIM. If you are ever presented with one, don't sign it!
UIM (and its brother Uninsured Motorist, or UM) could easily be the most important coverage on any biker's insurance policy!
UIM or Under insured Motorist coverage is triggered when an at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. If you are seriously hurt by an at-fault auto carrying minimum insurance limits, then when those funds are spent, the next place you turn will be to your own UIM coverage. Thus, you want to make sure there is plenty there. And it's not expensive – UIM coverage is one of your most reasonably priced policy additions. We recommend at least a $100,000 policy. If you can carry $1 million in UIM, you should.
UM or Uninsured Motorist coverage is triggered when the at-fault driver has no insurance or when the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident (hit and run). In this all-too-common scenario, the UM may be all the coverage you have! If it is minimum limits coverage –somewhere between $15,000 to $30,000 per person in many states – then that maybe all you get. Unless you started riding yesterday, you know that any motorcycle accident will burn through that in a hurry. Again, carry at least $100,000 in coverage or more.
PIP or MedPay – These two policy additions are wonderful if you are hurt on your bike. These are no-fault provisions triggered by medical bills , or in some policies, some portion of your lost wages. They pay out when those bills are generated and submitted to the insurer, sometimes just days after an accident when the extra cash is critically important. Carry as much PIP and/or MedPay as you can.
Don't fall in the "Motorcycle Insurance" trap. Call a qualified insurance agent with a reputable company and get all the facts about insuring your bike and your safety. Or, better yet, call an attorney who works with motorcyclists and get the inside scoop.
David Johnston is a South Carolina accident attorney with George Sink P.A. Injury Lawyers in Charleston and an avid biker. Please feel free to call David anytime at (843) 569-1700.