Category Archives: Insurance Coverage

Financing a Motorcycle? Make Sure You Get the Right Insurance!

Buying a motorcycle? When you get a loan for a new or used motorcycle, everyone seems to know the bank requires you to have collision and comprehensive insurance in the event your motorcycle is damaged or totaled.

The Law

Did you know there is no law requiring you to have collision and comprehensive insurance coverage?

It’s just the requirement of the bank but sometimes people screw up and too often, three people screw up (the bank, the motorcycle dealer & the buyer).

What Happens When You Don’t Have Collision Coverage

When everyone makes a mistake, you lose. In almost every accident, the motorcycle is a total loss. We recently had two clients who found themselves owing a lot of money for motorcycles they no longer had.

One of our clients relied on the motorcycle dealer to get his insurance coverage but the dealer only got him liability coverage. The bank apparently didn’t check and neither did our client. Our client’s motorcycle was totaled in an accident and he now owes the bank a lot of money.

Another client was told by a motorcycle salesperson he had to get insurance before taking the motorcycle. In front of the salesperson, he downloaded the Progressive app. Because he didn’t see the check box for collision and comprehensive, he only purchased the NYS minimum liability coverage. The loan was processed without the bank ever checking. After his motorcycle was totaled in an accident, he now owes $14,000 to the bank.

Types of Coverage in a Motorcycle Insurance Policy

  • Liability (pays someone you injure because of your negligence)
  • Collision (covers damage to your motorcycle from an accident)
  • Comprehensive (covers fire & theft)
  • Underinsured/Uninsured (pays you for your injuries when the car has less insurance then you)
  • Medical Payments (pays you for medical expenses)
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP which is no-fault for pedestrians you injure)

See our New York Motorcycle Insurance Guide

What Insurance to Get

It’s always good to have collision and comprehensive coverage but if you borrowed money from a commercial lender to buy your motorcycle, the lender requires it.

But don’t rely on the motorcycle dealer or the bank! Look at the list of coverages you purchased and verify you have collision coverage.

See more reasons in Should You Buy Collision Damage Coverage?

Buy as much Underinsured/Uninsured coverage as the insurance company will sell you (see CagerProtection.com).

Get a free motorcycle insurance coverage consultation from New York’s Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Read More Insurance Articles

 

How to avoid being at risk when you cause an accident

Why we got a $465,000 verdict for a knee injury; Why insurance companies sometimes refuse to pay; and How to avoid being at risk when you cause an accident

We obtained a $465,000 jury verdict at trial in Nassau County for a motorcyclist who had a knee injury with arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus.  Our client was struck by a car turning left.  The driver had a $300,000 insurance policy.

GEICO’s offer was $10,000 and increased to $20,000 before trial.  After the first part of the trial on negligence the jury found the driver was at 100% at fault. The claims representative then hinted he might be able to get $100,000 and told me they settle cases like this “all day for $35,000-$40,000”. The judge requested that I lower my demand so we could attempt settlement and I refused.

How can a case get so far as to reach a trial verdict in excess of the insurance policy and place the defendant at great personal financial risk?

The first mistake insurance companies make is steadfastly believing their driver’s version of the accident. Drivers often don’t want to believe they’re at fault and tell a biased story they believe will exonerate them.

In our case, the driver claimed to have correctly executed a textbook definition of how to make a left turn and he blamed the motorcyclist for the accident. Claims representatives who are neither attorneys, nor accident reconstruction experts believed his story and they fought all the way; we never settled; and the case went to trial. We proved to the jury that the driver lied and never saw the motorcycle when he drove in front of it, as is the usual cause.

It is dangerous to try to avoid responsibility for an unintentional accident because it can expose you to personal liability above your insurance liability limit. Insurance is purchased to protect personal assets and income. The fear that premiums may go up is misguided and they may not even be increased.

So how can someone prevent the insurance company from exposing them to a trial placing assets and income at risk? Simply tell the truth! If you didn’t see the motorcycle or another other car, just tell that to the police and your insurance company.

Telling the truth will make life easier! You won’t have to testify at a deposition and you won’t have to testify at a trial. It will also make your life financially safer.

If the insurance company knows the accident was the fault of their driver, they won’t argue liability and will negotiate the value of the injury caused. This increases the chance of a settlement instead of trial. When a case is settled, the injured person must sign a release, releasing the defendants from personal liability and all the money will come from the insurance company.

The second mistake the insurance company made in this case was to seriously underestimate the long-term consequence of the injury. GEICO hired two orthopedic surgeons and a radiologist claiming that he did not have a meniscus tear and that the surgery was unnecessary. Insurance companies also steadfastly believe their doctors even though they have a substantial financial reason to misrepresent the facts.

If you’re involved in an accident, call us immediately for a free consultation.

Is Your SUM Coverage Reduced During Winter Storage?

If your motorcycle insurance policy has a winter storage option, certain coverages may be eliminated or reduced such as collision damage, liability and SUM coverage.

SUM coverage is an acronym for Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. This is insurance coverage which pays you when you are negligently injured by someone who fled the scene; has no insurance; or has less insurance than you.

Your insurance company may simply charge an annual rate and factor in a discount because most motorcyclists don’t ride in the winter in NY. However, GEICO has two storage plans called Winter Storage Plan 1 and Winter Storage Plan 2.

A GEICO salesperson told me storage plans are now offered only to military and existing customers who had a storage plan and that information about the plans is no longer on their website. However, I found someone who copied from the GEICO website the following about Storage Plan 1: “We will remove all coverage from your policy with the exception of Comprehensive Coverage.”, while with Winter Storage Plan 2, “All coverage remains on your policy.”

It is vital to know what coverage you have if your motorcycle is in storage. If you eliminate liability coverage, you will also lose your SUM or uninsured/underinsured coverage.

One of our clients says he had $100,000 SUM coverage until his bike was put in storage and it was then reduced to the NYS minimum of $25,000 uninsured coverage with no underinsured coverage.

After his motorcycle was put in storage, a friend asked him to ride the friend’s motorcycle from his house to a garage where it was going to be stored. Unfortunately, while doing a favor, our client was in a motorcycle accident, hit by a car which fled the scene and was never identified.

Our client had serious injuries with a value of approximately $500,000 but his friend’s motorcycle only had $25,000 uninsured coverage. If our client still had $100,000 uninsured coverage on his own insurance policy, he would have obtained $100,000 instead of $25,000.

If you have a winter storage plan on your insurance policy, make sure you understand what coverage remains and what coverage is reduced or eliminated before you ride anyone else’s motorcycle during the winter. It’s just when you don’t expect it, that you’ll have a motorcycle accident

Make sure you increase your SUM coverage in the spring to at least $250,000 or more if your insurance company sells more.

We recommend buying insurance from an independent insurance agent which should eliminate a lot of problems in the event you are in an accident.

See our motorcycle insurance articles and
What Should I Do about My Motorcycle Insurance during the Winter?

Should I Buy Collision Damage Coverage?

Collision damage coverage insures your motorcycle or car for the cost to repair your vehicle or  replace it if it is totaled. When you have collision coverage your own insurance company will pay for repairs to your motorcycle or car regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

Many people who don’t have collision coverage are seeking to save the cost of the premium because their vehicle is not valuable enough to insure or because they don’t think they will be at fault for causing an accident and the other car’s insurance will pay.

If you have more than one motorcycle or can do without your motorcycle for a long time while fighting with the other driver’s insurance company and you can afford the loss in the event they don’t want to pay you, it could make sense to eliminate collision coverage and “self-insure” yourself.

The problem most people encounter after an accident is that the other driver’s insurance company claims it’s your fault and offers little to nothing thus leaving you with a damaged, unusable or worthless motorcycle or car. This often happens often even when it’s obviously 100% the fault of the other driver!

We just obtained 100% of the damage to a totaled motorcycle where the insurance company claims representative for the other driver thought the accident was 70% the fault of our client. It took two years to get the insurance company to understand why it was 100% the fault of their driver. During those two years, our client was not happy without his motorcycle.

In another another recent case, the insurance company claims representative thought their driver had no liability for causing the motorcycle accident but we were later awarded 80% liability against the other driver.

If you’re not hit in the rear, the insurance company claims representative for the other driver will likely argue that you’re partly or mostly at fault and you will be without a motorcycle or car until your lawyer can convince them.

When you’re covered by your own collision insurance, you will be paid the cost of repairs or the total damage plus sales tax, less a deductible within days of your accident even if the accident is your fault. If the accident is the fault of their driver, your insurance company can seek to recover the deductible from the other insurance company and reimburse you.

If you have rental car coverage, your insurance company will pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired or while you find a replacement if yours was totaled. If you don’t have rental car coverage when your car is damaged, the other insurance company will probably not pay for a rental car and you will be without transportation.

We recommend buying collision damage insurance and rental car coverage which will eliminate a lot of problems in the event you are in an accident.  There are three different types of collision damage coverage.  Make sure you get the type you want.

See what you must know about collision coverage if you’re buying a motorcycle with a loan from a bank.

NYS law (11 NYCRR 216.0) regulating insurance company responsibilities regarding handling of collision claims.

If you had a motorcycle accident but didn’t have collision coverage, we will NOT charge you a fee for money we recover for damage to your motorcycle.

Should You Buy Insurance from GEICO?

GEICO advertises heavily to sell motorcycle insurance, but should you buy from GEICO? Is it really cheap? Are all insurance companies the same?

An insurance policy from one company is not the same as an insurance policy from another company. There are many differences with coverages and what’s covered. Those differences are difficult to determine if you’re not knowledgeable about insurance. Also, different insurance companies treat their insureds differently.

Asking for full coverage and comparing the price is very dangerous because there is no such thing as full coverage and you won’t get a fair comparison. You also won’t get the coverage you thought you would get.

Even if the coverages and coverage amounts are the same, insurance companies handle claims differently. Some insurance companies will protect you from a lawsuit better than other companies and some insurance companies will give you a harder time when you need the benefits you paid for.

In the last few years, along with other lawyers, we noticed that GEICO has become very difficult to deal with, whether our client was injured by a GEICO insured or our client is insured with GEICO.

We just settled two claims with GEICO which should have been settled quickly but weren’t. One was a motorcyclist whose wife was a claims representative at GEICO. She tried to settle what she thought was an easy claim but found that even she couldn’t get GEICO to pay. GEICO’s claim representative claimed the motorcycle accident was our client’s fault.  After we filed a lawsuit, GEICO didn’t even depose our client. They just gave up and offered to pay the entire policy.

In another case, our client was struck in the rear by a car which fled. He was seriously injured but only had $100,000 uninsured coverage with GEICO. GEICO didn’t want to pay the claim even though both of their doctors found he had serious injuries caused by the car. GEICO finally offered to pay the policy almost a week before the arbitration date and only after we put substantial pressure on GEICO.

Now, GEICO’s lawyers are actually alleging that they shouldn’t have to pay an injured motorcyclist because riding a motorcycle is an inherently dangerous activity!

We filed a lawsuit for our client who was injured in a motorcycle accident when he was struck by a car pulling out of a parking spot. The car was insured by GEICO.

GEICO’s attorney alleged a defense stating:

“The injury and damages allegedly suffered by the plaintiff(s) were sustained while he was engaged in an activity that the plaintiff(s) entered knowing the risks inherent therein and which risks were assumed by plaintiff(s).”

See GEICO’s lawyer’s defense highlighted in yellow on page 2

Apparently, GEICO wants to sell you motorcycle insurance but if you’re injured by one of their insured’s, they will claim you engaged in a risky activity!

The most of obnoxious part of this defense is that they know they cannot legally allege that defense because N.Y.S. Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1671 entitles motorcycles to the same access to roads as cars. Consequently, we are demanding that they withdraw this defense or we will file a motion to obtain a court order withdrawing this ridiculous defense.

When buying insurance, you need to make sure that you have the right coverage. When buying motorcycle insurance, it’s even more important because if you’re injured, your injuries will be far more serious than in a car accident.

GEICO doesn’t sell through independent insurance agents. You have to buy from their sales person. We recommend that you buy motorcycle insurance through an independent insurance agent who can get you the best price and make sure you have the right coverage with a good insurance company.

Don’t Have Health Insurance? If you ride, sign up for Obama Care now!

If you ride or were previously injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t have health insurance, and still haven’t signed up for the Affordable Care Act, (Obama Care), do it now!  Even if you don’t ride but don’t have health insurance, you should sign up for Obama care at https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

Motorcyclists and their passengers do NOT have No-Fault insurance coverage which provides medical coverage for people injured in a car accident.  Therefore, if you ride and don’t have either health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, you have NO insurance coverage to pay for your medical treatment if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident.

People who have health insurance usually get it through a group plan at work.  For people who do not have access to a group plan, health insurance was available but so expensive, it was unaffordable for most people.

The Affordable Care Act guarantees that all Americans, regardless of their health status or pre-existing conditions, will finally have access to affordable health insurance coverage.  That means if you need medical treatment for injuries you had in an earlier motorcycle accident, you can now have medical insurance to pay for your treatment!

Enrollment began on October 1 but if you didn’t sign up before Jan 1, you will still be able to apply before March 31, 2014 for the motorcycle accident next season.

There are different plans available at varying costs.  The cheaper plans will have higher out of pocket costs in the event you need to use your coverage.  Since the risk of a costly injury is substantially higher in a motorcycle accident, we advise taking the best plan to avoid expensive out of pocket costs.

For 2014, insurers are offering standardized insurance plans within tiers called bronze, silver, gold, and platinum at varying costs.  The cheaper plans will have higher out of pocket costs in the event you need to use your coverage.  Since the risk of a costly injury is substantially higher in a motorcycle accident, we advise taking the best plan to avoid expensive out of pocket costs.

Medicaid is available if you are under the age of 65 with an income of less than $15,856 for an individual or $32,499 for a family of four.  You may be eligible for financial assistance to purchase coverage through the exchange (Obama Care) if your income is less than $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four.  If your income is higher, you can still purchase coverage without financial assistance.  If you do not purchase health insurance, you will be subject to a small penalty.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) go to https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

Even if you have health insurance coverage, you may not have coverage for some injuries or it may be very difficult to obtain treatment for some injuries such as dental injuries and plastic surgery.  We can arrange treatment when you don’t have coverage or have difficulty finding a physician willing to treat you without being paid up front.  For more information see http://newyorkmotorcycleaccidentlawyer.com/preexisting-injury

Can a Motorcycle Injury be Covered When You Didn’t Have Health Insurance?

You were injured in a motorcycle accident but didn’t have health insurance (No-Fault doesn’t cover motorcyclists).  Now, you need to get health insurance but your motorcycle injury is a pre-existing condition.  Can you still get health insurance coverage to pay for your pre-existing motorcycle injury?

In March of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law. The law created a new program to make health coverage available to people with pre-existing medical conditions called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP).

However, on February 16, 2013, the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) stopped accepting new enrollment applications until further notice and state-based PCIPs, such as New York, will suspend acceptance of new enrollment applications on March 2, 2013.  You can apply at the New York Bridge Plan.

The good news is that starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act guarantees that all Americans, regardless of their health status or pre-existing conditions, will finally have access to affordable health insurance coverage. New York motorcyclists, without health insurance coverage, will be able to choose a health insurance company and apply for affordable coverage in “Health Insurance Marketplaces” when open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013 for health insurance coverage beginning on January 1, 2014.

Starting in 2014, the law prohibits insurance companies from refusing to sell health insurance coverage or renew policies because of a person’s pre-existing condition. Also starting in 2014, individuals whose employers don’t offer them insurance will be able to buy health insurance directly in an “Exchange”. This is a competitive insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans. Exchanges will offer a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost standards.

If you don’t currently have health insurance, make sure that you apply when open enrollment starts on October 1, 2013.  To enroll, see newyorkmotorcycleaccidentlawyer.com/obamacare.  If you don’t have coverage during the 2014 riding season, you will still be able to apply after a motorcycle accident but you will not have coverage during the 1-2 months it can take to process your enrollment.

Even if you do have health insurance coverage, you may not have coverage for some types of treatment or it may be difficult to obtain treatment for some common motorcycle injuries such as dental injuries and scars requiring plastic surgery.  If you have a motorcycle accident in New York, we can arrange treatment when you don’t have coverage or have difficulty finding a physician willing to treat you without being paid up front.

We recently restored a client’s smile which was seriously damaged in a motorcycle accident.  Although she had medical insurance, the dentists she saw were demanding that she pay thousands of dollars up front for the treatment, which she couldn’t afford to pay.  She saw two other lawyers in New York, including a motorcycle lawyer, but they were unable to get her the restorative dental treatment she needed.  Then she called 1-800-HURT-911.

Instead of sending her to a general dentist, we got her treated by a specialist.  We immediately arranged for a top Prosthodontist to give her the treatment she needed to get her smile back.

What the Possible New Uninsured/Underinsured Law Means to Motorcyclists

Sometime around 2004-2005, while I was a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, I was sent to Albany to lobby for the Association. One of the senators I was assigned to lobby was Senator Seward. After lobbying the issue I was supposed to present, I proposed two of my own ideas to Senator Seward and was later reprimanded by the Association for proposing my own ideas.

Senator Seward asked me to submit my ideas in writing. One of those ideas was recently sponsored by Senator Seward in bill S.7787 and has now passed both houses. If signed by the governor, it will become law and require insurance companies to sell uninsured and underinsured coverage (SUM coverage) equal to the same amount of coverage as your liability coverage unless you indicate that you want less SUM coverage. The insurance company or agent would also be required to tell you what SUM coverage is.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the law but a watered down version may yet pass.  Hopefully, a law alerting drivers and motorcyclists of the availability and importance of uninsured / underinsured insurance will pass.

Currently, insurance companies are only required to sell $25,000 uninsured coverage and no underinsured coverage. It can get a little complicated but an example can illustrate what it is and why it’s important. If a car with $25,000 insurance coverage or no insurance coverage runs a red light hitting your motorcycle and you’re left with a serious injury, it can mean the difference between you receiving only $25,000 or the amount of your additional uninsured/underinsured coverage which could be $250,000. Since motorcycle accidents usually cause serious injuries, this law will substantially benefit motorcyclists.

While some motorcyclists may have an initial concern that this is yet another ploy by insurance companies to make more money and cost consumers more, this fear should be put to rest. It is true that insurance companies will make more money (and this is what I emphasized to Senator Seward), but the cost of increasing uninsured and underinsured coverage is very little and vitally important especially to motorcyclists because of the severe injuries often sustained in motorcycle accidents. According to Full Throttle Insurance, the cost of increasing uninsured/underinsured coverage on a motorcycle insurance policy can be as little as $7 per year.

I have previously written many articles advising motorcyclists about the importance of increasing uninsured and underinsured coverage. If this bill becomes law, my articles will be urging motorcyclists not to opt out of the additional uninsured and underinsured coverage.

I recommend calling an independent motorcycle insurance agent to make sure you get the best advice and the right coverage for your motorcycle. The reason for calling an independent insurance agent instead of buying insurance directly from an insurance company is that you will get valuable advice. When you buy directly from an insurance company you’re only speaking with a salesperson, not an educated insurance agent. If you buy insurance online, you’re not getting any valuable advice. An independent insurance agent will not only provide you with valuable advice at no extra cost but will place you with the insurance company which has the best price for your particular motorcycle and driving history. If you already have motorcycle insurance, you can still call an independent insurance agent today. Do it today, because after a motorcycle accident it’s too late.

If you would like a New York motorcycle accident attorney to review your motorcycle insurance coverage, I will be happy to review it with you for free. Just call 1-800-HURT-911.

Does an Insurance Policy Have To Pay Accidental Death Benefits If You Were Drunk and Speeding?

An insurance policy with an accidental death benefit may have to pay a death benefit to a motorcyclist who dies in an accident even if the motorcyclist was drunk and speeding.

Anthony McClelland was killed when he went off the road and crashed his motorcycle after failing to navigate a curve. McClelland was not wearing a helmet; was speeding at over 90 mph; was possibly racing with another motorcycle and car; and was drunk. The toxicology report stated that he had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.203%. The report listed blunt force trauma as the immediate cause of death and acute ethanol intoxication as a significant condition.

Anthony McClelland had an employee benefit insurance policy at work as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which provided a $250,000 accidental death benefit.

The Life Insurance Company of North America denied payment of the death benefit claiming that the death was not a result of an accident because he was drunk. The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the death was an accident and that the insurance company has to pay the death benefit.

Evidence was submitted that, according to friends he had seen that day, McClelland was in a good mood and had plans for other activities later that day. This evidence indicated that McClelland did not intend or anticipate his death on the day of his motorcycle accident and his death was therefore an accident.

The U.S. District Court agreed and stated that the evidence indicated that McClelland intended to reach his next destination and that he did not intend or expect to die. Interestingly, the court also stated, “The statistics offered by Plaintiff demonstrate that a person in this situation is overwhelmingly likely to safely reach his destination, particularly when he is an experienced drinker”. (Apparently, McClelland was an experienced drinker!)

The court further found that although he engaged in behavior that greatly raised his risk of serious injury or death, there is no evidence that a reasonable, similarly situated person would think that death or serious injury was highly likely.

The court concluded that if the insurance company wants to exclude drunk driving crashes from coverage for accidental death, it can easily write an exclusion in the insurance policy. The insurance policy which insured Anthony McClelland did not have such an exclusion for accidental death benefits.

If you had a family member who was killed in a motorcycle accident when he was drunk and/or speeding, call us for a free consultation at 1-800-487-8911

What Should I Do about My Motorcycle Insurance during the Winter?

It’s not even winter yet and some people are already putting their motorcycle away for the winter. I was just retained by someone who had a motorcycle accident while riding his motorcycle to his friend’s garage where he was going to store it for the winter.

You might not put your motorcycle away for another month or two and you might even want to go for a ride on one of those nice sunny warm days in January! But don’t make the mistake that my client made.

My client thought he would save some money by canceling his motorcycle insurance policy for the winter. That might sound like a way to save money, but it could cost you money.

The biggest mistake he made was to ride his motorcycle to his friend’s garage just one day after canceling his insurance. Obviously, he had no insurance at the time of the accident and did not have underinsured coverage.

If he still had his $300,000 underinsured coverage, he would have received $300,000 for his injuries, but he was struck by someone with a minimum insurance policy.
If you’re going to cancel your insurance for the winter, DO NOT take your motorcycle on the road, even for that short five minute ride.

Should you even cancel your insurance for the winter? First of all, there are always some nice days during the winter when you may be tempted to go for a ride. If your insurance policy is still in force, you can legally go for a ride anytime you want with the comfort that you and your motorcycle are insured.

Second, there are many ways your motorcycle could be damaged while in storage. Your motorcycle could be stolen or destroyed if the building where your motorcycle is stored burns down.

Third, you may not even save money because instead of renewing your insurance policy, you will be starting with a new policy in the spring probably with a higher rate than the renewal rate. You may also lose other discounts.

You might be able to choose a winter layup policy which will cover your motorcycle if it is damaged or stolen, but it will not give you insurance coverage to take your motorcycle on the road when the weather gets nice. Don’t forget that there are some winter days where it is just too tempting to go for a ride.

When you start riding again in the spring, Make sure that you check your insurance coverage to make sure you have the same coverage you had before the winter and that you have sufficient underinsured coverage. One of our clients said his underinsured coverage was reduced by GEICO from $300,000 to $25,000 during the winter but wasn’t increased again in the spring.

See our motorcycle insurance articles and
Is Your SUM Coverage Reduced During Winter Storage?