You ride a motorcycle or recreational vehicle for one reason: because you love it. But as any rider knows, it can be hazardous. No matter how skilled you are, you’re still at the mercy of other vehicles and hazards – and it only takes an instant for you to end up in the hospital, or worse.
For example, according to data from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2012, up 7 percent from 4,630 in 2011. There were about 93,000 motorcyclists injured during 2012, a 15 percent increase from around 81,000 in 2011. When you look at per vehicle miles traveled in 2012, motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle accident and five times more likely to be injured.
Those are sobering statistics, and proof enough that safety should be top of mind. A few quick reminders:
- Invest in the best helmet and protective gear you can afford – it’s the only thing between you and the road. Statistics show that a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to die of a head injury than one who is wearing a helmet.
- Complete a road safety course – in some cases this may help you qualify for an insurance discount.
- Ride at a speed appropriate for driving conditions and your capabilities.
- Use a bike that is appropriate for your skill level.
- Make yourself visible by using your headlamp day and night, wearing bright colors and reflectors, and properly positioning yourself in your lane.
- Never drink and ride, or text/talk and ride.
- Remember to get enough insurance coverage – another crucial piece of protective gear.
When it comes to insurance, you have three basic options:
- Take your chances without it. OK, this isn’t much of an option because it’s illegal and not very smart. Aside from the fines and penalties for riding without valid insurance, what happens if you have an accident, even if it’s not your fault? With no insurance, you don’t have uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. That means if you get hit by another uninsured driver, you get nothing. You can sue, but you may never see a dime if they file for bankruptcy.
- Get the cheapest coverage you can. Every state has minimum requirements for liability coverage. But in most states, those minimums are out of date and don’t account for today’s sky-high medical costs. If you injure someone in an accident, the injured person’s medical bills can quickly exceed the liability limits on your policy. If not, the non-economic damages (pain and suffering) probably will – and your personal assets could be at risk.
- Get the highest limits you can’t afford to live without. If you get seriously injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, having higher limits can make all the difference in easing the financial burden on you and your family while you’re off work, getting medical care, and recovering. Many insurers offer higher limits of liability (e.g., 100/300 or 250/500) that can be matched with the same UM/UIM limits. An umbrella policy can give you even more coverage over-and-above your liability limits, and many companies will match UM/UIM limits to your umbrella coverage. Depending on your life situation, income, and assets, it might be foolish not to carry higher limits and extra coverage.
Whether it’s a motorcycle, RV, Jet Ski, or 4-wheeler, the same principles apply. Each of these types of vehicles has its own risks and safety concerns, so take the same precautions.
Bottom line: The right insurance coverage is essential protective gear for motorcyclists and other recreational vehicle users, so don’t hit the road without it.
Want to learn more? Talk to the personal insurance experts at Higginbotham Insurance.