Motorcycle insurance is optional for anyone 21 and older and wearing a helmet. Anyone 21 or older may ride a motorcycle without a helmet if they are covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000.00 in medical benefits for injuries incurred in a crash. So, you think to yourself either 1) I am covered by health insurance and therefore I don’t need motorcycle insurance or 2) If I am unlucky enough to be involved in an accident and I am not at fault, the driver of that Cadillac that pulled in front of me will pay. WRONG! In case you don’t know, I am here to tell you in no uncertain terms that Florida’s motor vehicle laws are, to use the vernacular, back ass wards. In Florida, to legally drive an automobile you must carry property damage insurance (which pays for the bumper on the car that you rear end in front of you) and PIP (Personal Injury Protection) also known as “No Fault” insurance which pays your own medical bills regardless of who is at fault in an accident up to $10,000.00 subject to any deductibles that may apply.
Therefore, the car that runs the stop sign and pulls out in front of you may not have any liability insurance to cover the personal injuries you sustained. That’s right, neither automobiles nor motorcycles are required to carry any liability insurance which covers personal injuries. So you say to yourself, that’s ok, I have health insurance. Most health insurance plans have severe limitations. Most only pay for medical bills and supplies and do not cover things like home health care and private duty nursing. Further, no health insurance covers the intangible damages for pain, suffering, scaring, disfigurement and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life that juries are entitled to award in Florida. Even if the at fault automobile carries some insurance, it is probably not enough. The majority of automobile insurance policies which contain liability coverage that are sold in Florida (primarily due to costs) are in the amounts of $10,000.00 per person / $20,000.00 per accident or $25,000.00 per person / $50,000.00 per accident. This means that if a person causes an accident and has such insurance, the most that the insurance company will pay is the per person limit subject to the aggregate limit for two persons. To put this in context, if an at fault automobile driver causes an accident and has a 10/20 policy, you and your passenger would each only be entitled to a maximum of $10,000.00 per person for a total of $20,000.00 from the accident. Assuming you had no insurance of your own, out of this $10,000.00 you would have to pay your lawyer, and your medical bills. Assuming there was anything left, you would get a check for some small amount and with regard to any future medical care and treatment including surgeries, you would be on your own.
You ask yourself “how do I protect myself?” First, you could buy at least $10,000.00 in medical benefits insurance assuming your insurance company even offers it. However, if you are involved in anything other than a minor accident, you would blow through $10,000.00 in an emergency room before you even see the doctor. The more prudent way is to buy as much uninsured/underinsured (UM) insurance that you can afford.
Instead of making automobile drivers carry mandatory liability insurance, the Florida legislature, in all its wisdom, places the burden upon you to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage which protects you against uninsured and underinsured drivers. What does this mean? If the Cadillac that pulls out in front of you and causes an accident carries no liability insurance, your UM policy would act like the at fault driver’s insurance coverage. This is not automatic. Therefore, in order to obtain the benefit of this type of coverage, you must prove that the other person was primarily at fault. Additionally, if the person in the Cadillac had $10,000.00 insurance, any UM insurance that you purchased would be added on top of that $10,000.00 up to the maximum limits you purchased because that driver would be “underinsured” compared to the total amount of damages. Moreover, the types of damages that are allowed to be claimed (if proven) are not limited to medical bills like a health insurance policy. The types of damages that may be proven under a UM policy include past unpaid medical bills, the cost of future medical bills and treatment, past lost wages, the lost earning ability in the future and past and future intangible damages such as pain, suffering, disfigurement, scarring and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life. I personally recommend that no motorcycle owner venture on to the public highways without an absolute minimum of uninsured/underinsured (UM) coverage of $100,000.00 per person/$300,000.00 per accident.
If you, the reader have any questions concerning any of these matters you should immediately contact your insurance agent or an attorney knowledgeable in both motorcycle and insurance law.
Louis (Buck) Vocelle, Jr.
3333 20th St.
Vero Beach, Fl 32960-4269
772-562-8111 Ext. 101
Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
Board Certified Business Trial Lawyer