For those who are driving a motorcycle, there are different rules that apply to the license you receive and in some cases the laws that govern driving on the roads and highways. However, there are many new motorcycle drivers who wonder whether the same insurance rules that apply to cars and trucks also apply to their motorcycle.
Since motorcycles are significantly different in terms of their structure and are generally not as expensive as their car and truck counterparts, the question about their insurance status is a legitimate one. Plus, each state does have their rules when it comes to insurance coverage.
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 that require at least minimum levels of motorcycle insurance mimic the requirements of automotive insurance. Only Washington and Montana do not require having motorcycle insurance. Montana precludes motorcycle drivers from having the same status as automobiles when it comes to owning insurance and Washington simply has not laws in place that cover motorcycles, mopeds and other, similar motor-powered vehicles.
It was not long ago that both motorcycle and vehicular insurance were not requirements at least according to state law. However, that has changed for a number of 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 and if the other driver has no insurance, then you are covered. Assuming everyone has liability and uninsured motorist insurance, everyone is covered.
Florida: Motorcycle insurance in Florida is an interesting set of circumstances. For those with a clean driving record, there is no insurance requirement when it comes to your motorcycle. However, if you are the cause of an accident, then you must carry insurance for three consecutive years in order to maintain the registration of your motorcycle. In addition, you are responsible for any injuries that you caused regardless of the status of your insurance.
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 to the question of is motorcycle insurance required in Florida, the answer will depend on your driving status.
California: 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 optional insurance coverage as well which includes uninsured and underinsured motorists. That is a bit different that many other states which generally require uninsured motorists.
Washington: 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 coverage in case an accident occurs.
Other states have their own requirements which usually vary in terms of the amount of coverage as well as the monetary value. In Alaska, insurance companies are not required to offer more than the minimum coverage amount. However, Texas, Utah and Oregon do require that automobile drivers have personal injury protection insurance, but not motorcycle drivers.
What Happens If I am Uninsured?
Despite being required in most states, there are a surprising number of motorcycle drivers that do not carry any insurance. While the exact numbers are not known, it estimated to be roughly 15% to 20% of all motorcycle drivers who live in the states where it is required, numbers 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 the insurance in required and you do not have any.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident without having liability and uninsured motorist coverage, then the financial impact may be devastating. 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 they have no insurance, then you will have to file a lawsuit which may or may not compel them to pay your medical expenses. If the other driver files for bankruptcy, then you may wind up with nothing from them to help you.
Motorcycle drivers are particularly vulnerable to injury given the nature of their bike. 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, you will also have your lost wages and addition 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.