Now and then, I meet riders who I consider to be “bathed in a special light.” These people can ride for years and years, and they’ll never have an accident or even get a scratch. But the rest of us will have our occasional mishaps on Sunday rides or track days.
We all love the freedom of the road and the track, and that freedom is what makes riding a motorcycle feel like an adventure compared to riding in a boring car. But we have to balance our sense of adventure with a realistic assessment of potential dangers. In other words, we always need to keep safety in mind. That means good bike maintenance, sound safety equipment, and the ability to engage our brains before twisting the throttle.
And it also calls for insurance. Simply put, you need the right coverage.
I know insurance isn’t a sexy topic. No one wants to talk about it. That’s why insurance companies try to jazz it up with talking geckos or a retro Flo. But for us riders in particular, insurance is vitally important. Most riders keep the bare minimum of insurance and otherwise try not to think about it at all. But I’m here to argue that having good insurance will increase your enjoyment of riding a bike.
Remember there are are lots of distracted drivers on the road who are not looking out for motorcycles. You have to look out for yourself.
Louisiana Drivers Don’t Have Enough Insurance
In Louisiana, the driving stats are bad. A site called Nerdwallet ranks Baton Rouge as the second most dangerous city for drivers and New Orleans as the sixth. Here in Louisiana, we are subject to some of the highest premiums in the land, and many drivers carry the bare minimum coverage, which is $15,000. That amount typically is not enough to cover the damages a motorcycle accident will incur. Bike repairs can cost a fair amount of coin, and medical care certainly isn’t cheap.
The worst part is that a lot of folks on the road don’t carry any insurance; it’s either because they neglect to keep up with the premiums or they simply can’t afford it. So if you’re hit on your bike by an underinsured or uninsured driver, you can be on the hook for a lot of money even when it’s the other guy’s fault. They might get in trouble with the law, but you can’t draw blood from a stone, and you can’t make someone who’s broke give you money they don’t have.
Uninsured and under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage will help make up the difference. It kicks in when the knucklehead that hit you doesn’t have any coverage or simply doesn’t have enough.
I know that I don’t personally feel comfortable riding without adequate coverage. There was a time where I was riding my track bikes more than my street bike, and because I wasn’t out in traffic, I decided to save some money and drop my UM/UIM coverage while the street bike sat in my garage. But I still rode my street bike now and then, and when I did, I was paranoid at every stop light. I was fearful driving through every intersection that I was going to get rammed. I finally got UM/UIM coverage again, and now I have peace of mind and feel OK to ride my street bike again.
Peace of mind. It’s the old standard line of insurance marketing, but insurance really does provide it. And you really just might need to collect on a policy someday.
What Good Insurance Costs
Imagine you’re shopping around for insurance, and you have a decent driving record and no real accident history. Let’s take some easy figures for the average insurance buyer and apply it to cars and motorcycles.
If you’re looking for car insurance, you may get a quote for “full coverage” liability insurance for $300 per six months. This type of coverage will pay the bills of other drivers you might hit and protect you against theft and other non-injury losses. Then, if you ask for UM/UIM coverage, the rate may go up to $500 total. It’s not a huge jump, just another $33 per month, and many drivers choose to get the added coverage.
On the other hand, if you’re shopping for motorcycle insurance, you’ll get a much different quote. If you just want full coverage liability insurance, it may run as low as $50 for a six-month premium. That’s a lot less than the auto quote and for good reason. If a motorcycle hits a car, the damage is typically minimal, and even a damaged motorcycle doesn’t cost as much to repair as a damaged car. But when you tack on the optional UM/UIM coverage, you’re looking at maybe $450 for that same six-month period. That’s a jump of $400—eight times as much the original premium.
That sticker shock often compels the motorcyclist to waive UM/UIM coverage, because the difference is simply too great. It’s a problem motorcycle accident injury attorneys like me see all too often. Riders find it too hard to agree to that extra expense. But I’d argue that UM/UIM coverage is a must. After all, we’re riding on the streets with only a leather jacket and a helmet on to protect us from two-ton cars.
Think about it: if someone rolls forward at a stop light and accidentally taps your bumper when you’re in a car, you are safely encased in a metal structure and restrained by a seat belt, and your bumper often absorbs the shock. Not so on a motorcycle. That small hit can break your back or pull a shoulder out of socket.
A hit and run is even worse. When people are hit in their car or truck and the driver tries to flee, they can follow the offender, at least they get the license plate and then call 911. Or if the impact is significant, both cars will typically be disabled and can only limp so far before stopping. Not so with a motorcycle.
Here at MotoJustice, we have dealt with hapless souls that have been tossed from their bikes into ditches or rendered comatose while the offender simply drives away. The biker is always the worse for wear when a car or truck meets a bike at speed.
So what’s the solution to this inequity? Get as much UM/UIM coverage as possible. If you’re the victim of a hit and run, it can cover property damage and your bodily injury claim. If you don’t have it, chances are you’re out of luck.
Are you really covered?
- You may have UM/UIM on your auto policy and think it covers you when you ride your motorcycle. Nope, it does not.
- You may have UM/UIM on your main bike and think it covers the bike you ride only occasionally. Nope, it does not.
- You may not have any liability insurance at all on your motorcycle but figure you’ll be OK because you’re a careful and attentive rider. Sorry, but you could be in a world of trouble. Louisiana is one of ten “No Pay, No Play” states. You are required by law to have liability insurance. If you don’t and get in an accident that’s not even your fault, your compensation from the accident will be minimized.
- You may have health insurance, but after an accident, you will still need an attorney to help with personal injury claims. MotoJustice can help recover medical deductibles as well as compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical bills, and any future disability.
- If you don’t have health insurance, UM/UIM is even more vital for you to pay exorbitant medical invoices.
So the message is that we motorcyclists must carry maximum liability insurance, and we strongly recommend that you get the UM/UIM coverage to match for your bike too. It may seem a little costly, but that’s the world we live in. Without it, you may be out of luck when it comes time to pay all the bills.