Riding Smart: Insurance Coverage for Your Motorcycle
Riding a motorcycle can be much more exhilarating than driving in a car. As the author Robert Pirsig put it in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “In a car you’re always in a compartment . . . . You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
Unfortunately, this superior experience exposes motorcyclists to greater risks. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are twenty-seven times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per mile traveled. They are also more likely to suffer serious injuries.
Given these higher risks, motorcyclists should make sure they have good insurance coverage in case they are involved in a crash. The policy covering the motorcycle should have un- and underinsured motorist coverage, which helps cover the motorcyclist’s injuries if he is struck by a driver without enough liability insurance. If the motorcyclist also owns a car, his car insurance policy should also have un- and underinsured coverage. Under a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Gallagher v. GEICO, 201 A.3d 131 (Pa. 2018), if you buy “stacked” un- and underinsured motorist coverage for your cars, and you also have un- and underinsured coverage on your motorcycle, the coverage under your car policy also protects you while you are riding your motorcycle, even if your motorcycle is on a separate policy.
It is important to make sure that every motorcycle or car insurance policy you buy provides “stacked” coverage, which multiplies your protection without significant increasing your premium. Stacking multiplies your limit of coverage by the number of vehicles on your policy and allows you to access coverage under policies covering vehicles you were not occupying at the time of an accident. For example, if you own two motorcycles and have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage on each one, stacking the coverage means you will have $200,000 in coverage available under your motorcycle policy if you are hit by an underinsured motorist. If you choose “unstacked” coverage, only $100,000 will be available. Furthermore, if you also own two cars and have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage on each one, stacking the coverage means you will have an additional $200,000 in coverage available under your car policy if you are hit by an underinsured motorist while on a motorcycle. Conversely, if your car coverage is “unstacked,” the coverage may not be available if you are involved in an accident while riding one of your motorcycles.
Car insurance policies also provide first-party benefits or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which includes coverage for medical expenses if you are involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, unlike un- and underinsured motorist coverage, your car insurance PIP coverage never covers motorcycle accidents. For this reason, you should consider purchasing special medical payments coverage under your motorcycle policy so that you have some benefits available to pay medical bills after a motorcycle accident. Unlike underinsured coverage, this type of coverage functions like health insurance and can be billed directly by doctors.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Motorcycle accident cases are complicated and should be handled by an experienced lawyer. Please contact Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo today for a free consultation.