Motorcycles: Accidents, Safety, and Insurance
Sunny weather and warmer temperatures have begun, with spring upon us in Michigan. It also means there will be more people out and about, including motorcyclists. Riding on the open road can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to know the risks and ways to stay safe if you’re planning on heading out on your motorcycle.
Michigan Motorcycling: Statistics
In Michigan, motorcyclist fatalities have been increasing steadily for nearly three decades, going from just 31 fatalities in 1992 to 130 in 2020, despite motorcycle registration remaining steady over the last 10 years. Motorcycles are around 3% of all registered vehicles but account for 14% of all traffic fatalities. 28% of those who were in fatal motorcycle accidents were under the influence of alcohol.
This does not even account for the thousands of people injured in motorcycle accidents. Reduce your risks by knowing how to protect yourself out on the road.
What are the ways that I can stay safe?
Practice makes perfect – get a feel for how your motorcycle moves in a controlled environment before going out into traffic. Riding safe means you need to have good balance, judgment, and coordination. Make sure you know how to use all of your equipment on your motorcycle. Be properly licensed.
Check that your motorcycle has proper signal indicators, that your cargo is secured and balanced, that you have proper tire pressure and tread depth, and that your brakes are in working order. Make sure there are no oil or gas leaks, and that your lights are functioning.
Don’t skip the helmet – protect your head with an approved safety helmet to prevent life-threatening injuries in the event you do get into an accident. A motorcycle rider without a helmet is five times more likely to suffer a critical head injury. Protect your body with clothing made to be heavier, such as leather or denim. Wear gloves for better grip, and protect your ankles with boots. These kinds of clothing can protect you in the event you skid across the road.
Be sure to obey all traffic laws, do not take risks, or show off. Ride defensively and be vigilant about the vehicles around you – the majority of motorcyclist accidents occur because other drivers cannot see you. Practice common sense, don’t take drugs or drink alcohol before riding, make sure you are alert and sober.
What about insurance? How can I make sure I am covered?
- Liability Insurance:
- This type of insurance is required under Michigan law;
- Covers you in the event you cause an accident;
- Offers coverage for third-party injuries, death, and property damage.
- Collision Coverage:
- Covers you if you are in a crash with another vehicle;
- Insurance will cover the claim for damage done to your motorcycle;
- You may have to meet a deductible.
- This is for any accidents that occur not caused by a collision with another vehicle;
- Protects you in the event your motorcycle is damaged by vandalism, fire, etc.;
- May pay for the replacement of a motorcycle if it is stolen or a total loss.
- Uninsured(UM)/Underinsured(UIM) Motorist Coverage:
- Uninsured motorist offers coverage for injuries caused by drivers without insurance;
- Uninsured motorist also offers coverage in the event the other driver’s insurance company denies them coverage or they’ve committed a hit-and-run;
- Underinsured motorist offers coverage when the other driver has insurance, but does not have a policy that can cover the entirety of what you require for your injuries.
When considering purchasing options for your motorcycle insurance, it is important to make smart decisions that can protect you in the event you are injured in a crash. For example, there are some areas of Michigan where up to 50% of the drivers on the road do not carry insurance even though they are supposed to. This is where including uninsured/underinsured coverage on your policy on top of the required liability insurance could very well save you from a world of hurt. Additionally, uninsured/underinsured options typically are very inexpensive, only amounting to a few dollars more per payment for peace of mind that you’ll be covered if you’re injured by someone without insurance/enough insurance.
If you are injured in a motorcycle crash by someone who does not have insurance, you may not be able to receive compensation for your injuries. With the UM coverage, if you are injured in a motorcycle crash where the person who is at fault does not have insurance, your own insurance company will compensate you for pain and suffering, and sometimes lost wages or medical bills. Similarly, with the UIM coverage, if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, your insurance company would be able to cover the rest of the compensation you require to cover your damages.
Have you or someone you know been involved in a vehicle accident?