You’re The Proud Owner of a New Motorcycle … Now What?
Whether this is a childhood dream-come-true or simply your next set of two wheels to get you from Point A to Point B, owning and riding a motorcycle is a big deal. And before you jump on, rev it up, and drive to your nearest pal’s house to show it off, there are a few things you should know and do.
This chapter covers the following:
- Types of insurance you should get
- Riding Gear
- Rider Safety
- First Aid
Types of Insurance You Should Get
Here is an overview of the various types of insurance that you should purchase:
At a minimum, you should purchase $250,000 of UIM insurance coverage. If you can afford more, you should have it. Additionally, if you own a home, you should get an uninsured/underinsured motorists umbrella policy for $1 million.
- Liability Coverage Liability insurance covers damages to another person’s property resulting from an accident that you cause. (Your liability coverage doesn’t pay for any of your expenses related to any accident. It pays for damage and injuries that you cause.)
- Collision Coverage Collision insurance protects your motorcycle when it is involved in a crash with another vehicle or a stationary object. (But remember: this coverage will not pay for any medical bills you incur.)
- Comprehensive Coverage Comprehensive insurance doesn’t give you complete coverage, contrary to what its name might indicate. Comprehensive insurance just covers damages to your vehicle not caused by a collision and motorcycle owners can be surprised by how much this can encompass. Comprehensive coverage generally falls under “acts of God or nature”, that are typically out of your control when driving – a spooked deer, a heavy hailstorm, a carjacking, etc.
- MedPay Medical Payment Coverage, also called MedPay, is a premium that your insurance company must offer you. In fact, in order to forfeit the coverage, you must sign a waiver. The value of the coverage can range from $5,000 to $100,000. This coverage can be used to pay for first responders, such as ambulance companies. It also covers emergency room bills or any other medical bills related to your injury as a result of your accident, whether or not you were at fault. Do not waive this coverage!
- Underinsured (or Uninsured) Motorist Coverage Colorado only requires that drivers have $25,000 in liability coverage. So, when you’re out on the roads, you should assume that everyone only has $25,000 to give you if they hit you. For victims of motorcycle accidents, that likely won’t even cover your first day in the hospital. On the other hand, if you purchase UIM as part of your own insurance policy, your insurance company will pay you for:
- Lost wages
- Past and future medical expenses
- Any damage arising from the accident (with the exception of property damage)
- All economic and noneconomic loss, which includes pain and suffering
Consider this true story from the O’Sullivan Law files:
Samuel was riding his motorcycle in a residential area and was hit by a driver who then fled the scene. Samuel sustained severe injuries and was out of work for two months. The driver of the car was caught but he only had $25,000 worth of insurance coverage. Luckily, Samuel had Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage and was insured for up to $250,000. Without that coverage, Samuel would not have been able to pay his medical bills. His life would have been forever altered by another driver’s carelessness.
Why do insurance agents often steer auto and motorcycle drivers away from this coverage? Insurance companies and agents are pressured to keep premiums as low as possible. Also, many people function under a popular misconception: They think that, if you have health insurance, you don’t need UIM. But that’s not true. First, think of your health insurance deductibles and co-pays. In some severe cases, those expenses alone are enough to stress a person’s finances.
Second, health insurance doesn’t cover everything that UIM covers. (See list above for what is covered with Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage),
Health insurance and UIM insurance are completely different.
A good rule of thumb for motorcycle insurance is to purchase as much as you can and make absolutely certain that you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
In summary, you should have the following coverage before you ride your motorcycle:
- As much liability, collision and comprehensive insurance as you can afford. (Read more about these types of insurance by clicking here.)
- A minimum of $250,000 Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
- Medical Payments Coverage
- An uninsured/underinsured motorists umbrella policy of $1 million if you own a home.
When you purchase your motorcycle, roll a few items into the cost, just as if they came with the bike. You wouldn’t buy a motorcycle without a clutch. Don’t buy one without the proper riding gear, such as:
- Full-face helmet, including face and jaw protection
- Motorcycle boots
- Riding jacket and pants
You might even consider the newest technologies out there, such as a riding jacket that comes equipped with an airbag. These state-of-the-art jackets look no different than professional racing jackets and come in different seasonal variations.
BikerDown is a non-profit organization that was established in 2011 with a mission to assist motorcycle accident victims. BikerDown provides emotional support to family members of injured or killed riders, medical equipment and even financial support (when possible) or advice to help victims keep creditors at bay as they recover.
When you become a member of BikerDown, you not only join a community that helps injured riders, but you help yourself and your family, as well, because members can upgrade their membership to include Aflac Insurance. This is important because, if you have a family depending on you, you have a duty to make sure that they can pay for your care if you are permanently hurt or even killed. Even something as simple as road rash can take days or weeks to heal and, depending on your line of work, that could be devastating to your financial situation. The optional Aflac Accident policy as part of your BikerDown membership can give you the added financial assistance you need to recover.
The O’Sullivan Law Firm is a proud supporter of BikerDown. To learn more, visit their website.
Protect Yourself: Take a Rider Safety Class
Take a rider safety class and get the motorcycle endorsement for your driver’s license. In Colorado, there are many Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved sites and Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) courses, which are accredited by the state.
To find the MOST-certified training courses near you, visit:
Learn about adding a motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license here:
Protect Your Friends: Take First Aid Training
Often, accidents happen when riders are together. You can protect your buddies if you know some first aid basics. Learn about the types of wounds you might see in an accident and how you can help an injured friend while you wait for paramedics. You can generally find these courses by inquiring at bike shops or at a nearby Red Cross.
When you get your motorcycle:
- Get the proper insurance.
- Purchase the appropriate riding gear.
- Take a motorcycle safety course.
- Take a first aid course.