After experiencing the trauma of a motorcycle accident, the last thing victims need to worry about is how they are going to handle communications with insurance company representatives. The insurance claims process can be frustrating under even the best circumstances. In most cases, insurance companies work aggressively to protect their companies' best interests—maximizing profits by reducing payouts and costs.
For some good news, there are some steps you can take following a motorcycle accident to simplify the insurance claims process. Read on to learn more about the insurance claims process and some tips and tricks for negotiating with representatives, and assessing the value of your claim.
A Quick Note On the Differences Between Motorcycle Insurance and Car Insurance
It's important to be aware of a few differences between motorcycle insurance and traditional automobile insurance. The more you know about the coverage provided by your motorcycle insurance policy, the easier it will be to navigate the claims process following an accident.
Comparing motorcycle insurance and automobile insurance side-by-side is one of the easiest ways to understand how both policies work. Most of you are familiar with your auto insurance coverage.
However, motorcycle insurance policies have a few key differences, for example:
Vehicle insurance generally extends coverage to passengers who are involved in an accident. Basic motorcycle insurance does not provide coverage for passengers—motorcycles, by design, are less likely to occupy passengers. However, motorcyclists may purchase additional coverage that provides liability insurance coverage for passengers.
Riders are almost always at a higher risk of serious injury in the event of an accident. As a result, most motorcycle insurance policies offer higher personal injury protection coverage than automobile insurance policies.
Motorcycles, like cars, can be purchased with additional and custom features and equipment. Motorcycles with added features often require extended insurance coverage. Common equipment like a backrest may even require additional accessories-coverage for coverage after a collision.
What Does Motorcycle Insurance Cover?
The extent of coverage provided by motorcycle insurance can vary from policy to policy and is typically unique to the insured. Each state individually sets requirements for the minimum coverage motorcyclists are required to carry.
Some common types of insurance coverage include:
Liability insurance: Liability insurance covers costs related to damages resulting from an accident that the insured driver caused. Damages may include the costs of any accident-related injuries or property damage caused by the accident.
Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP insurance helps cover immediate costs if you are injured in a motorcycle accident. Coverage may extend to medical expenses and lost wages if your injuries cause you to miss time from work.
Comprehensive insurance: Comprehensive insurance coverage extends to any damage the bike may incur while you are not operating it. For example, theft, fire, vandalism, or other similar occurrences, are commonly included in comprehensive motorcycle insurance policies.
Collision insurance: Collision insurance is, essentially, just what it says it is. It covers damages from collisions with other vehicles and objects (regardless of who was at fault for the accident).
Underinsured motorist coverage/uninsured motorist coverage(UIM/UM): These forms of insurance are unique; they act as a sort of backup protection when other drivers in a collision are inadequately insured or do not have insurance coverage at all. UIM/UM coverage will compensate injured parties for the lack of insurance carried by other drivers.
Similar to automobile insurance policies, motorcyclists can choose from a variety of additional coverage options to include in their policies.
However, insurance coverage options unique to motorcycle insurance policies include:
Personal item coverage/carried contents coverage: Items carried by riders or stored in their bikes lack protection, so they are vulnerable to sustaining damage in the event of an accident or theft. Carried contents coverage extends to items that riders carry with them on their motorcycle.
Accessories or added equipment coverage: As mentioned, accessories coverage protects motorcycles. Accessories coverage works in tandem with comprehensive coverage to help account for damages if your bike's accessories are damaged in an accident. Common equipment covered by these policies includes helmets, radios, and seats.
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts coverage: For many bikes, it's important to use manufacturer-specific components to ensure proper functioning when building or repairing a motorcycle. In fact, many motorcycles will not run without the proper OEM parts and equipment. OEM parts coverage guarantees that any repairs covered by an insured's policy will provide original manufacturer parts.
Guest passenger liability insurance: Also, as mentioned, guest passenger liability insurance functions a lot like PIP insurance, however, it applies only to damages incurred by motorcycle passengers. Coverage may include medical expenses and lost wages if injuries prevent passengers from working.
What Type of Motorcycle Insurance Claim Should I File After My Accident?
The appropriate type of motorcycle insurance claim one should file depends largely on the individual circumstances of each accident. Before determining how you should proceed, consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to learn about all of your options.
Until you consult an attorney, here's some general advice about how the insurance claims process works after a crash:
Property Damage Claims
Property damage claims seek compensation for damage to a motorcycle or vehicle that requires repair or replacement. If another driver causes an accident that results in damage to the motorcycle, owners will typically seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company. If you were at fault for the accident or if no other driver was involved in the crash, you may still file a claim for property damage with your insurance policy, provided your policy provides for coverage.
The amount of insurance compensation that injured parties are entitled to receive for property damage depends on the type of coverage provided by your policy.
Collision coverage may apply if you collide with another vehicle or with a fixed object.
Comprehensive coverage may apply if you need to recover damages caused by a single-vehicle accident, e.g., wiping out on a curve.
Motorcycle Accident Claims
Motorcycle accident claims cover the costs of physical injuries to one's body resulting from an accident caused by another driver.
The most commonly pursued damages in a motorcycle accident claim include:
Medical bills: Past, present, and future medical bills associated with accident-related injuries may be compensated through a motorcycle accident claim. Medical expenses may include costs of emergency medical transportation, surgeries, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
Pain and suffering: There's no doubt about it; motorcycle accidents have the potential to cause extensive damages resulting in considerable pain and suffering for injured victims. When pain and suffering interfere with victims' lives they may be entitled to compensation for their losses.
Lost wages or diminished earning capacity: More often than not, motorcycle accidents prevent injured individuals from working causing them to miss out on wages during their recovery. When individuals can't return to work due to their injuries, they may be entitled to seek compensation for lost wages. For injuries that cause permanent disability, injured parties may be entitled to compensation for diminished future earning capacity.
How Does Motorcycle Insurance Work After A Crash?
Motorcycle insurance works to protect and compensate at-fault drivers and injured victims after a motorcycle accident. However, you may only receive your coverage compensation if you keep your insurance company updated and informed.
To pursue an insurance claim:
Identifying who was responsible for the accident will determine which parties are included in your insurance claim.
Gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident to demonstrate how the collision occurred.
Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, ideally before vehicles are moved;
Document any known damage to your person, motorcycle, or belongings; and
Capture any nearby evidence of the accident, e.g, skid marks or damage to roadside objects.
If officers respond to the scene of the accident, they will compile a police report that may provide valuable evidence for your claim. In most localities, police reports are accessible online a few days following an accident.
Request Contact Information From People Involved in the Accident
Talk to other drivers and passengers that were involved in the accident while everyone is still at the scene. Gather other drivers' names, contact information, and insurance information. Take note of the other vehicle's make, model, and license plate number. Any information you can gather from others involved may be helpful throughout the claims process.
Follow up With Recommended Medical Care
Seek medical care after a motorcycle accident. Not only to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of your injuries but also to have professional documentation of the full extent of your accident injuries and treatment costs.
Seeking timely medical care can really benefit an insurance claim for damages. If you allow too much time to pass from the date of the accident to the time you seek a medical evaluation, it may be difficult to ascertain whether your injuries were caused by the accident or some other incident.
Seek proper treatment so that you fully recover, and demonstrate an accurate estimate of ongoing or future medical expenses.
Filing the Insurance Claim
It's common to have questions about how to actually make a motorcycle insurance claim after an accident. The process may differ depending on the type of claim you are filing.
Filing a claim against your own insurance company. To file a motorcycle accident claim with your own insurance company, reach out to your insurance agent.
Your agent may assist in connecting you with a claims adjuster.
Have a motorcycle accident lawyer deal with the claims adjuster, who can review the proof of claim form and the information you provide on it.
Next, seek replacement and repair estimates from mechanics supporting your calculation of compensation for property damage.
Researching the current value of your motorcycle can support claims for replacement compensation and ensure you receive a fair amount.
Your insurance company has an obligation to negotiate with you in good faith.
Negotiation discussions with a claims adjuster provide an opportunity to request a reasonable settlement for any accident-related damages you incurred.
Filing a claim against another driver. Negotiations usually begin with an insufficient settlement offer that requires you to counteroffer and renegotiate to receive a fair amount.
If injured parties refuse an insurance company's initial offer, representatives may try to delay the processing of your claim, in an attempt to make you rethink the settlement and accept the low offer.
Some insurance agencies may use deceitful tactics to avoid paying the full value of injured victims' claims.
Remember, insurance companies are businesses aimed at making profits; an agent's job is to reduce losses from claim payouts.
Making an Insurance Claim After an Accident? Protect Yourself
If you suffered injury or damage to your motorcycle in an accident, file an insurance claim as soon as you are able after the accident. Should negotiations with insurance representatives prove unsuccessful, you may pursue legal action to seek compensation.
Should you initiate legal action, work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can help you understand your options so you can evaluate the best way to proceed for your unique circumstances. Obtaining legal representation can relieve some stress so that you can concentrate on your health and well-being.
Lawyers can also provide valuable advice for individuals who would rather pursue the insurance claims process, rather than a lawsuit, for compensation. Motorcycle accident attorneys can help their clients file insurance claims and protect their legal rights during negotiations with insurance adjusters.
Legal representation is not required for filing an insurance claim following a motorcycle accident, but it can prove helpful should the other driver's insurance company employ tactics to discredit your claim. You can partner with a motorcycle accident attorney who has extensive experience proving injuries and other damages to ensure you progress through the claims process accurately and promptly.
To set up a free consultation about your motorcycle accident case you can contact Dolman Law's offices at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney
This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.