INSURANCE INSIGHTS Proper Motorcycle Coverage

September 1, 2015 at 8:00 pm  •  Posted in Insurance Insights by

Imagine it’s a beautiful day in the desert. You’ve spent the day with your twin brother – who happens to be your best buddy – working on your bikes and now you are ready to ride! You and your brother head out to the open road and he brings his girlfriend as his passenger. You have been riding together since you were little boys. You are both experienced riders who enjoy the freedom of the open road. Your brother has been restoring an old classic Harley and it is finally running. This is the first test drive.

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You ride a little behind your brother to keep an eye on him. As dusk turns to evening, the riding light is getting darker as the sun is setting in the distance. The air is brisk and fresh and it has been a great ride…the freedom of connecting with the open road, until…it happens! And you see it happening in slow motion right in front of your eyes; it’s too late to avoid; you see your twin brother approaching an unexpected blind curve, barely visible in the dark. You wish you could scream at him. Before you can think “what to do” he hits the guardrail and both he and his passenger are ejected and thrown from the bike into the dark field of hard, desert earth past the shoulder.

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Before you know it, you’re close to the same curve; you apply the brakes and lay down your bike sliding just past the guardrail into the same field where your brother was thrown. You have sustained some minor injuries but you are able to get up and go search for your brother in the dark desert. You were able to throw down your bike after seeing your brother missing the same curve. It’s dark; at first you can’t see him or his girlfriend; you listen for voices or sounds… nothing. You think the worse but it can’t be, no way! Suddenly, you see him and rush over his motionless body. “Please God!” His injuries are significant and he is non-responsive. His girlfriend is a few feet away. You check for a pulse on her, nothing. Is she deceased? Is she? And why wasn’t she wearing a DOT helmet? A single mom who leaves behind a sweet five year-old daughter. Who will care for her now? What was she thinking?

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My name is Stacy Kaye. I worked for over a decade for one of the top motorcycle insurance companies in the US. I worked as a senior claims supervisor and hold SCLA certification (Senior Claims Law Associate). I have seen many cases like this and here at Grace Rider, we want to make sure you are covered. The above is a sad but all too true story. And the question is…are you covered? Do you have the coverage you need for the injuries you would have sustained if you survive the accident? Do you have the coverage you need for your bike? What if you were “the brother”? Would you have enough coverage if you were seriously injured? What about coverage for your passenger?

In the real life example above, the rider who sustained minor injuries to himself and damages to his bike carried the appropriate coverage on his motorcycle policy to cover his own injuries and the damages to his bike. If he had a passenger, his passenger would have had good coverage as well.

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Unfortunately, his twin brother did not. He only carried the state required minimums of Bodily Injury 15/30 (15,000/30,000), no Medical Payments coverage and no Physical Damage coverage for his bike.

In this case, the twin brother sustained major head injuries, among many other injuries. He was in a coma for a significant length of time and, when he came out of the coma, he had permanent brain damage and had to relearn how to do the basic necessities of life. His medical bills were in the six figures and he did not carry any coverage for the injuries he sustained.

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His passenger was entitled to coverage under the Bodily Injury portion of his policy. Unfortunately, $15,000 is not sufficient to compensate this 5-year-old child for the loss of her mother. While no amount would be sufficient for the loss of a life, a more appropriate amount would have provided for the care of this child. Because the child was a minor, and the amount was so insufficient, that money was tied up pending court approval to confirm whether there were other funds available. Where would more funds come from in a case like this?

The attorney representing the estate of the deceased sought the limits of the brother who was following behind alleging that this rider caused his brother to lose control and contributed to the loss. Because the brother’s limits were higher 100/300 (100,000/300,000), the insurance company was willing to defend the rider’s position that he was following behind his brother at a safe distance and did not contribute to the brother’s loss of control. If the brother carried the state minimums, there is a very good chance the insurance company would have offered the limits to settle the case.

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Insurance companies, attorneys, fighting with each other and the two brothers caught in the middle. While this topic is difficult to discuss, it is nonetheless important. This is the first of a series of articles where we will begin to discuss the things your insurance agent or company may not tell you. We at Grace Rider Mag want you to be covered and protected in the event the worse case scenario visits you or your loved ones.

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In this particular case, both riders should have carried a minimum of Bodily Injury Liability of 100,000/300,000 Property Damage of 100,000 Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury of 100,000/300,000 Under Insured Motorist Bodily Injury of 100,000/300,000, Med-Pay of 10,000 or more. Coverage for the bike should have included collision with a $500 deductible, comprehensive with a $250-500 deductible, and – don’t forget to make sure your policy includes coverage for After Market parts if you have customized your ride!

In future articles, we will provide you with an in-depth discussion on each of these coverages and explain why each is important for you to carry along with other real-life cases.

Names and some identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. In addition, the opinions and suggestions given within this magazine are not to be construed as legal advice.
Email us your real-life-experiences with motorcycle insurance, so others can be educated. Send to Letters@GraceRiderMag.com subject matter “Insurance”.

Stacy Kaye
Winchester, CA