Because the state of Florida doesn’t make insurance mandatory for motorcyclists, it’s tempting for motorcycle owners to skimp on coverage-or go without it entirely. After investing a great deal of money in a top-of-the-line machine, many new motorcycle owners focus financial resources on comprehensive or collision coverage to protect their ride in the event of a crash. Collision insurance is a valuable form of protection, but there are several forms of coverage that need to come first.

Think about it: If you get into a fender-bender with your car, the chances are high that you’ll be able to walk away from the incident, thanks to tons of metal, a seatbelt and airbags that insulate your body. On a motorcycle, only a helmet and protective clothing come between you and the impact of a crash. The Centers for Disease Control report that the number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments increased from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.

Florida’s No-Fault Law does not apply to motorcyclists, but the Florida Financial Responsibility Law does. This means that motorcyclists don’t automatically benefit from mandatory Personal Injury Protection as automobile operators do; but without insurance, you are by default financially responsible for injuries and damages sustained in a crash. And the expense of injuries, even non-critical ones, can be staggering, mounting with each ambulance ride, emergency room stay, physician follow-ups, rehabilitation and lost wages. With the popularity of motorcycles ever on the rise, it’s extremely important that all these new motorcycle enthusiasts insure themselves against the costs of injury to themselves and others in the event of a crash.

The following three forms of insurance are the types that will best protect you and your passengers:

    • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – PIP insurance is sometimes viewed as being supplemental to traditional health insurance. Among other things, it can cover your deductibles, copays and lost wages resulting from an injury and the treatment thereof. Although Florida’s No-Fault Law doesn’t apply to motorcyclists, it’s still possible (and a very good idea) for motorcycle riders to obtain PIP.
    • Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (BI) – In many states, bodily injury liability insurance is actually a requirement, allowing the carrier to protect people hurt in an accident that he or she caused. It’s also very valuable to motorcyclists who regularly ride with a friend or loved one on the back. This form of insurance covers the costs of injury to others involved in a crash, including passengers and bystanders.
  • Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) – In an interview with Tom Lankard of MSN Autos, Ben Sheridan, the general manager for motorcycle insurance with Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., said he was troubled by how many people under-insure against uninsured drivers. Florida ranks among the top five states for uninsured motorists, with almost 25% of drivers operating without insurance. If an uninsured, negligent driver injures you, without UM coverage you’ll make the unfortunate discovery that there is no resource to pay for your medical costs, lost time from work and other recoverable damages.

If you’re still not convinced that these insurance types are fundamental for motorcyclists, here is a simple analogy we think will get our point across: Most riders purchase expensive apparel to protect themselves from the dangers of riding or the risk of inclement weather. Did you know the cost of that gear on an annual basis can exceed the cost of adequate PIP and UM insurance coverage for you and your passenger riders? Take a close look at the ways you invest in your motorcycle lifestyle, and you’ll likely find opportunities to supplement the physical protection from your gear with much-needed financial protection.

We at Wittmer | Linehan understand that the world of insurance can be convoluted and confusing, especially as it applies to motorcycles. However, our team is well versed in insurance-related matters, so please use us as a resource for questions on insurance before you have an accident and find out it’s too late.