Motorcyclists are a breed apart from other motorists—they share a unique bond with each other, and carry a mystique about them. There are several stereotypes, to be sure, but the critical differences between a motorcycle accident and a standard automobile accident is that motorcyclists are far more likely to be injured, and those injuries are far more likely to be serious or life-threatening. It’s a matter of simple physics—without two tons of armor to protect the occupant in a collision, severe injuries may result.
Of course, it’s safer for motorcyclists to wear helmets and safety vests, and to take instructional safety courses. In addition to being safe on the road, it is important that Maryland motorcyclists consider these insurance facts before hitting the road.
- No Personal Injury Protection (PIP): insurance companies are not required to offer Marylanders personal injury protection when they purchase motorcycle insurance. PIP, as we have explained before, is insurance that is usually available to preliminarily pay lost wages and medical expenses. PIP is usually available to a motorist through his/her own insurance company, and will be paid regardless of fault. That means even a negligent driver may recover PIP from the policy, in most circumstances. However, PIP is not likely to be available for motorcyclists in Maryland, largely because the law doesn’t require it and the insurance companies continue to think that motorcyclists are a big risk. So, motorcyclists should find other ways to protect themselves (read on below!).
- Health Insurance: Some people mistakenly believe that health insurance companies will not pay for medical care resulting from an automobile accident. That’s not true. If you have health insurance, they are obligated to make payments pursuant to the contract. In most cases, they will have to pay for accident-related medical care. So motorcyclists should make sure that they have adequate health insurance, and that they can afford whatever deductibles and co-pays that are necessary.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection: Commonly called UM/UIM coverage, it is insurance that a motorist will get to protect themselves in case they get into an accident with an uninsured driver (like a phantom vehicle, a hit-and-run, or someone who simply doesn’t have insurance). It will also help when the person who caused the accident has a very low amount of insurance. If so, and particularly if the motorcyclist’s injuries are severe, he will often be able to pay for expensive medical care or time missed from work.
- Gap Insurance: New motorcycles, like all automobiles, depreciate significantly when they are driven off the lot. What this means is that if an accident happens soon after purchase (usually within two or three years), and if the insurance company totals the motorcycle (deciding that it is not worth the cost of repair), the owner will only receive the fair market value of the motorcycle. The fair market value may not be enough to purchase a new motorcycle, leaving the accident victim without transportation. Gap insurance, typically offered by the dealership, will bridge the gap between the fair market value of the motorcycle and the cost of purchasing a new one. This will ensure that a motorcycle accident victim is not left stranded.
- Check Your Policy Every Year: Insurance policies are confusing, not just to “laypeople,” but also to lawyers and judges. There is so much dispute about insurance provisions that our top courts have to deal with insurance cases every single year—sometimes they change our understanding of how common insurance policies are interpreted. So, it’s a good idea to check your motorcycle policy every year to see if it covers you, your family, and all of your motorcycles. Make sure the coverage amounts are high enough. If you are unsure, ask the people who know how insurance contracts are interpreted by the courts—call us.
In our next post, we’ll continue the motorcycle theme with Five Questions to Ask A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer.
If you have questions after a motorcycle accident in Maryland or West Virginia, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or send us some brief information about your accident to us through our online portal.
More Maryland Personal Injury Information
- Proving Your Injuries in a Maryland Lawsuit
- Maryland Car Accident Settlements
- What is My Maryland Automobile Accident Case Worth?
- Maryland Damage Caps