Auto Insurance: Are You Covered? – Minnesota Motorcycle Insurance

06/18/2012 / Kate Westad

It’s that time of year again. Warm summer weather brings thousands of motorcycles onto the road each year. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Safety (MDS) reports that “by the end of the calendar year 2011, the number of licensed motorcycle operators and the number of registered motorcycles in Minnesota had reached their highest levels in history.”

This summer MDS also launched a “Look Twice for Motorcycles” public service announcement ("PSA") and is showing the slogan on all major highway overhead screens. Check out the PSA video on You Tube.

MDS also reports that: 

the motorcycle crash experience in Minnesota remains largely a male one. In 2011, 31 of the 42 motorcyclists killed, and 1,034 of the 1,248 injured, were male. Males account for 83% of all motorcyclists killed or injured.  

But there are women riders out there – and women frequently are passengers on motorcycles.

Not only am I an advocate for crash prevention, but I am also a strong advocate for protecting yourself, your passengers and your family with adequate insurance coverage. All too often, I find out that my clients do not have adequate insurance coverage on their motorcycles.  This can result in a huge financial burden and undue stress on their families.

Whether you are a lone rider, a rider with frequent passengers or even if you are the one purchasing the motorcycle insurance for a loved one or family member, you should be aware of the following coverage pitfalls for motorcycles in Minnesota.

No-Fault Coverage for Motorcycles is Unavailable in Minnesota

Unlike auto coverage in Minnesota where you have a mandatory $20,000 in medical coverage for collision-related injuries, motorcycles are exempted from that mandatory coverage.  As such, no-fault is unavailable on your motorcycle policy. Further, your auto insurance coverage will not apply to your motorcycle. This means that if you get into a motorcycle crash and you or your passenger is injured, the only coverage for medical treatment is your health insurance. Worse yet, if you or your passenger do not have medical insurance, all medical treatment will come out of your pocket. Because motorcycle injuries resulting from a crash are generally more serious, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. For example, if you are injured in a single motorcycle crash and there is no third party at fault, you will be responsible for all of your medical bills. I have received several calls in just the last few months about this exact scenario. Being adequately covered from the start is always cheaper than incurring substantial medical debt.

Talk to a reputable insurance agent about which insurance companies offer “medical pay” coverage on your bike. “Medical Pay” is a small pool of coverage that can be used toward collision-related medical expenses. Also, always make sure you and your passengers have adequate medical insurance before getting on a bike.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Waivable in Minnesota

Again, unlike auto insurance, Minnesota law does not require a motorcyclist to have Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured (UIM) coverage. This means that when you obtain motorcycle insurance through your carrier, you can waive these coverages. This might be tempting if you think you will save a few bucks. But, if another car hits you and is uninsured – and you are seriously injured and have no UM coverage – there is no coverage on your policy for your injuries or damages. Further, the minimum amount of liability coverage in Minnesota is $30,000 – which makes it fairly likely that, if you are involved in a collision, the at-fault driver may be underinsured.

In my opinion, a motorcyclist should never waive UM/UIM coverage on their bike. The small cost of this additional coverage is greatly outweighed by the significant financial risk of being uninsured or underinsured in the event you are seriously injured.

Again, talk to a reputable insurance agent about obtaining umbrella coverage, which includes all of your insurable assets. Layering coverage is the easiest and smartest way to ensure you and your family are covered.

Please note there may be exceptions to coverage situations for motorcycles as fact situations and policies differ. You should always have your specific situation personally reviewed by an attorney before deciding that you do not have a claim.