The feeling you get from riding a motorcycle is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t ride. I’m still not sure how something can be both an adrenaline rush and a stress reliever at the same time. But since I bought my first street bike almost 25 years ago (a drop in the bucket compared to how long my law partner Steve Denton has been riding), I’ve found nothing to match that feeling. Whether you ride a bagger, a sport bike, an adventure bike, or anything else on two wheels, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have some sense, you also know that there are inherent risks in riding; it’s just a fact. But those risks can be recognized and reduced. As a motorcyclist and a lawyer that represents riders, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’ve learned doing both. Today I want to discuss an extremely important topic for riders: insurance.
Many riders drive a car as their primary mode of transportation, riding a motorcycle just for pleasure and far less frequently than they drive. Based on that, the tendency of many is to buy the cheapest insurance policy they can—after all, they may only ride a few thousand miles a year. This is the opposite of what you should do. If possible, insure your motorcycle with the same insurance company that insures your cars or trucks and buy as much liability, uninsured (UM), and underinsured (UIM) coverage as you can comfortably afford. Underinsured Motorist Coverage is an optional coverage in South Carolina, and you must specifically opt to purchase it and choose the amount. Your insurance agent is required to give you a form that shows the limits available to you and exactly how much the coverage will cost. You can purchase underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage up to the amount of your liability coverage, so it is very important that you purchase an amount of liability coverage that is higher than the $25,000 per person/ $50,000 per accident minimum required by South Carolina law. The form from your agent will show you exactly what the price difference is: you will be surprised how little it costs to buy more insurance than required.
So, why is it worth the extra cost? The chances of suffering a serious costly injury are greater for motorcyclists than drivers. If you are hurt by a negligent driver and you do not have underinsured motorist coverage, the amount you can recover will be limited to the amount of liability coverage the at-fault driver has. If he or she has a $25,000 liability limit, you may well get stuck with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills and lost wages. If the at fault driver is uninsured and you did not purchase uninsured motorist coverage limits beyond the required $25,000, you will be in the same predicament. I have seen this happen too many times to count. It is frustrating and sad to have to explain to clients that although they did nothing wrong, there is no avenue of recovery for the damages they have suffered.
I practice what I preach because I know how important it is to have a substantial amount of UIM and UM coverage. The extra cost is worth the peace of mind. I hope I never have to use it; I’ll be more than happy to let my insurance company win that bet. I hope you never have to use yours. But please follow this advice and be prepared. If you have specific questions about insurance coverage, call me. I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.
Blog post by partner Wes Kissinger. Click here to learn more about Wes.
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