For those who are driving a motorcycle, different rules apply to the license you receive and in some cases, the laws that govern driving on the roads and highways. However, many new motorcycle drivers wonder whether the same insurance rules that apply to cars and trucks also apply to their motorcycles.
Since motorcycles are significantly different in terms of structure and are generally not as expensive as their car and truck counterparts, the question about their insurance status is legitimate. Plus, each state does have its rules when it comes to insurance coverage.
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Is Motorcycle Insurance Required?
The answer is general is yes; all states save for two have minimum requirements when it comes to having motorcycle insurance. For the most part, the 48 states requiring at least minimum levels of motorcycle insurance mimic automotive insurance requirements. Only Washington and Montana do not require motorcycle insurance.
Montana precludes motorcycle drivers from having the same status as automobiles when it comes to owning insurance, and Washington simply has no laws in place that cover motorcycles, mopeds, and other similar motor-powered vehicles.
Not long ago, motorcycle and vehicular insurance were not requirements, at least according to state law.
However, that has changed for several reasons over the years, and now motorcycle drivers are faced with having to purchase at least the minimum requirements for insurance.
Minimum Requirements for Motorcycle Insurance:
As with automobiles, each state has its own requirement for motorcycle insurance. Most states require some form of liability and uninsured or underinsured motorist, which means that in an accident, you cover the other driver if it is your fault. If the other driver has no insurance, then you are covered. Assuming everyone has liability and uninsured motorist insurance, everyone is covered.
Motorcycle insurance in Florida is an interesting set of circumstances. For those with a clean driving record, there is no insurance requirement for your motorcycle. However, if you are the cause of an accident, you must carry insurance for three consecutive years to maintain your motorcycle’s registration. In addition, you are responsible for any injuries you cause, regardless of your insurance status.
Another interesting twist to the law is that if you do not carry at least $10,000 of injury protection insurance, then you must wear a helmet when driving your motorcycle. So, whether motorcycle insurance is required in Florida will depend on your driving status.
California’s motorcycle insurance mirrors in many respects their auto insurance requirements. The minimum required is $15,000 per person injured in any single accident or $30,000 for all persons injured in any single accident. Plus, there is $5,000 for damage to property in any single accident. There is also optional insurance coverage, including uninsured and underinsured motorists. That is slightly different from many other states, which generally require uninsured motorists.
As mentioned previously, Washington simply has no laws that govern motorcycle insurance. This means that while it is not required, it still can be purchased at the level which suits the motorcycle owner. However, if the new bike was paid for by a loan, then the lender may require that the motorcycle have proper insurance for a coverage in case an accident occurs.
Other states have their own requirements, which usually vary in terms of coverage and monetary value. In Alaska, insurance companies are not required to offer more than the minimum coverage amount. However, Texas, Utah, and Oregon require that automobile drivers have personal injury protection insurance, not motorcycle drivers.
What Happens If I am Uninsured?
Despite being required in most states, a surprising number of motorcycle drivers do not carry any insurance. While the exact numbers are unknown, it is estimated to be roughly 15% to 20% of all motorcycle drivers who live in the states where it is required, similar to automobile drivers. The practical effect of being uninsured may seem rather benign if you never get into an accident or can renew your license tags without showing the requirement.
However, there are serious consequences if you live in a state where insurance is required, and you do not have any.
The financial impact may be devastating if you are involved in a motorcycle accident without liability and uninsured motorist coverage. While your health insurance may cover your injuries, there will be no coverage for the damage to your bike or the lost wages from missing work.
If the other driver is at fault and has no insurance, you will have to file a lawsuit that may or may not compel them to pay your medical expenses. If the other driver files for bankruptcy, you may have nothing from them to help you.
Motorcycle drivers are particularly vulnerable to injury, given the nature of their bikes. What would be a fender-bender and a minor annoyance in a car accident may result in major injuries to a motorcycle driver. In addition, of the accidents that were caused by the driver of a vehicle to a person riding a motorcycle, in most cases, the automobile driver never saw the motorcyclist until it was too late.
The importance of having insurance for your motorcycle cannot be understated when it comes to having the basics of liability and uninsured motorists, which will at least cover your legal responsibilities in most states. This means that if you are covered by uninsured motorist insurance, and the other driver causes the accident, then you will not only get your medical treatment covered, but you will also have your lost wages and additional money for pain and suffering as well.
So, the question may not be, is motorcycle insurance required, but rather why do you not have the coverage needed to protect your finances in case of an accident?