Motorcycle Insurance: Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Protect yourself from uninsured drivers
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is the part of the policy that takes care of your injuries when you are not at-fault. In the previous installment, I suggested you place the bodily injury part of the liability at the highest possible limit you can afford because you have assets to protect.
Uninsured motorist places the value on you. The Good Hands people sell higher limits using the analogy of “Why would you protect your assets but not consider yourself your greatest asset?” It’s a good selling technique. In the auto world of insurance, the cost of the UM (uninsured motorist) coverage is not usually that high. It’s the exact opposite in the motorcycle world. The odds are simply not with riders, and the underwriters know it. That’s why uninsured motorist coverage has become one of the highest costs within the components of the policy. So, cost is absolutely a factor when dealing with UM coverage.
This article was actually completed before I saw a competing webzine touching on the subject of Uninsured Motorist coverage. It had one glaring issue: the writer is a personal injury attorney.
I certainly think that attorneys play their role in helping the injured. The attorney, however, is in it for the dough, and telling the consumer to buy the highest limits of uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t exactly come clean for me. I have three well known personal injury attorneys that are actual customers. I even refer customers to them if needed.
Crazy? Depends on how you look at it. When you find an agent like me or my sister, you will find we do it for the love of the job. Making 15% on your average bike policy means you have to turn out five times the business of a general agency for the same money. It’s not that simple, and my sister and I are certainly not wealthy by any means.
Just like the last two articles, you will need to consult your local independent agent, broker or on-line underwriter to get full details of the situation specific to the state you live in. Your state un/under-insured motorist insurance regulations are likely to be somewhat different than they are in the state of Georgia where I’m based.
So, would I suggest the highest coverage possible like the attorney from the other article suggests? Yes! The differences are what make an agent and attorney approach the subject from separate but connecting paths. Hospitals are expensive, the ambulance is expensive, and rehab is expensive.
With that, think about this: You are forcibly removed from your ride. You know that the minimum liability will barely pay for the ambulance and the Emergency Room triage. You purchased the additional UM coverage to match your liability limits, but it’s not your fault. The at-fault party has only the minimum liability limit (say $25,000) and you have just figured out that the broken bones in your leg need surgery.
Ms At-Fault will need to be sued because someone has to pay the bills and it’s not going to be you. You’ve hired an attorney. Good. You probably need it. But here’s where it gets tricky. Yes, she’ll get sued. But that takes time, and bills are due. Personal Injury attorney guy will ask you or your agent for a copy of your declarations page.
Why? To file a claim. Will you need it? Maybe. Is it your right to utilize it? Certainly. The company that underwrites your policy will probably subrogate (collect from the at-fault party at a later date), but the claim is filed and paid. Does it affect you?
There’s a little company out there that collects all claims and payment information on every consumer insurance policy in existence. The information is processed at the point of sale. That means that with every new or renewed policy, the underwriter is using information gathered from this service to determine your rates. That broken leg that you are not supposed to be paying for, you will pay for in the future. I don’t recall Mr. Attorney mentioning that. He also forgot to mention that he’s collecting 1/3 of the recovered money for his work. If you manage to collect all that is due for making you “whole” (or as completely recovered as possible), you will have paid the attorney roughly the salary of an average American unless you get the bigger score of an upper management or VP employee.
What’s the point? As an agent, I may not be involved in the process of the claim, but as my customer I will do my best to show you a direction that best helps you. Any good independent agent will do the same thing. We may not be allowed to fully help you legally since our job is sales and service, but we aren’t leaving you hanging out to dry. If we can walk you patiently through the process of recovery, it will lead to referrals of future customers as a thank you.
Attorneys will give you personal assistance and help get money collected, but they want their share as much as you want your share. It is completely unethical and against the law in the majority of states I’ve done business with to have an agent accept referral cash from an attorney. I refer people to attorneys I consider to be friends. The only things they send me are invitations to ride.
So, do your homework if you need a personal injury attorney. They say that the insurance companies aren’t there for you. I say that insurance is like Vegas without showgirls. You can come out a winner or a loser depending on how you play the game. Patience is your friend in the insurance world. Insurers want fast and painless acceptance of payment. You stand tough and things will usually work out.
I didn’t really cover the property damage of the UM coverage, but in most cases the deductible is $250 and it will cover the damage that Grandma Bluehair caused when she backed into your bike at the local Chinese buffet. Just make sure you take pics of the bike on its side and definitely get a police report.
Still to come is Part 4 of this series in which we discuss comprehensive and collision coverage, deductibles and your residential status.
Kirk Harrington is a longtime rider and avid motorcycle enthusiast, and he’s one of the nation’s only specialized motorcycle insurance agents, operating from his location north of Atlanta, Georgia.
Motorcycle Insurance Buyer’s Guide
Motorcycle Insurance: Property or Physical Damage
Motorcycle Insurance: Casualty Liability
Motorcycle Insurance: Comprehensive Collission Coverage