With gas prices expected to skyrocket this summer, perhaps to record levels, many people who hadn’t previously considered a motorcycle may be tempted by gas mileage that can exceed even the best hybrid passenger vehicles.
However, the decision to buy a motorcycle is not one that people should take lightly. Every new motorcyclist must understand the risks of riding, how to remain safe while riding, and what their insurance options are.
Risks far greater on a motorcycle
By nature, motorcycles are substantially more dangerous than other vehicles.
First, they are not enclosed and thus have no means to prevent a rider from being thrown from a moving motorcycle. Second, because they only have two wheels, they are less stable. Third, they are less visible to other motorists. Fourth, a motorcycle takes much more skill to operate than other vehicle types. And finally, motorcycles are more affected by weather and hazards on the road.
In 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, motorcycles represented 3.2 percent of vehicles on the road but 13.2 percent of traffic fatalities. More than 4,400 riders died, and 90,000 were injured, the data show.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, “In 2009, 58 out of every 100,000 registered motorcycles was involved in a fatal crash, compared with only 13 out of every 100,000 passenger cars.”
How to stay safe
It is imperative that new riders take a motorcycle safety course to learn how to properly operate their vehicle and how to stay safe while on the road (How important? See this post on the importance of taking a motorcycle safety course).
The added bonus of a motorcycle safety course is that many insurance companies will either give you a discount on your insurance policy, or a discount on the price of the course. And motorcycle safety courses are not just for beginners; intermediate and advanced riders should also take such safety courses periodically to refresh their safety knowledge and learn new safety techniques.
Riders should also wear the right motorcycle equipment every time they ride. Given that 56 percent of motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle, protective pants, a jacket, gloves, shoes, as well as a Department of Transportation (DOT)- approved helmet could mean the difference between sustaining life-threatening injuries and living through a crash.
Yes, you need insurance
Motorcycle insurance is similar to car insurance in that most states have mandatory minimum requirements and that there are several options beyond the minimum that motorcyclists can choose from. Below are the different types of motorcycle insurance.
Liability: The majority of states require all motorcyclists to purchase liability coverage. Typically, liability insurance will cover the costs others endure as the result of an accident you caused; for instance, liability insurance might cover some or all of the costs of damages to another person’s property or their medical bills. However, any damage to your motorcycle will not be covered, and you will have to pay out of pocket to repair it.
Collision: This optional coverage will pay for the damages your motorcycle sustains as the result of a traffic accident where you are at fault, minus the deductible you agreed on with your insurance company. For instance, if your motorcycle sustains $3,000 in damages as the result of an accident and the deductible you agreed on with your insurance company is $500, you would pay $500 to towards your motorcycle’s damages and your insurance company would pay for the other $2,500. A higher deductible typically lowers your premiums.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist: This option protects you and your motorcycle in the event that an accident is caused by a motorist who has no auto insurance and is “underinsured,” meaning their policy does not pay the full cost of your medical bills or motorcycle’s damages.
Comprehensive: This option will cover your bike in the event that it is damaged in a non-accident situation. For instance, a big storm came through and something fell on and damaged your bike. This option would help go toward repairing your motorcycle.
Now that you understand the motorcycle insurance options you have, it is important for you to know that purchasing motorcycle insurance solely to appease your state’s minimum coverage requirement could be detrimental to you.
If you cause an accident, not only will the minimum coverage not cover the damages you and your bike sustain, but it may not cover all of the damages you caused to others and their property. This increases your risk of being involved in a personal injury lawsuit, which is a very expensive process.
This guest post comes from Gina Williams, who writes about safety, accident prevention and how to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer at MotorcycleAccident.org.