Buying a motorcycle is a significant investment. That is just the beginning of the financial obligations you have with a motorcycle. One question people have is whether they need motorcycle insurance when they already have car insurance.
Yes. Maryland law requires all motorcycles to be registered and carry the mandatory minimum amount of liability insurance. Having a car insurance policy Motorcycles are defined as any 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicle with an engine larger than 70 ccs. The mandatory minimum amounts of motorcycle liability insurance in Maryland are:
- $30,000 bodily injury for an individual
- $60,000 bodily injury for 2 or more people
- $15,000 for property damage
Most auto insurance companies also provide motorcycle insurance policies.
A motorcycle is not moped. A motorcycle is designed to travel at “speeds exceeding 35 miles per hour” and is “of a type required to comply with all motor vehicle safety standards applicable to motorcycles under federal law.” Md. Transp. Art. § 11-136(a).
Personal injury protection (PIP) is a component of auto insurance coverage that applies on a no-fault basis. It provides the insured driver with first-party coverage for medical expenses and lost income resulting from an accident regardless of who was at fault. Under Maryland law, $2,500 of personal injury protection coverage must be offered with all auto insurance policies. PIP can be declined by the insured.
However, declining PIP coverage in Maryland requires a special waiver form and most policies are issued with the minimum PIP. The PIP rules are different for motorcycle coverage. Personal injury protection coverage is not mandatory for motorcycle policies. As a result, it is rarely offered and most motorcycle insurance policies do not have PIP coverage.
This is a huge mistake. You really want PIP coverage on your bike. PIP coverage gives you some protection from injuries in a motorcycle accident even if the crash is your fault. It is relatively cheap and that small investment pays big dividends if you get into a crash.
More generally, few motorcyclists in Maryland carry enough insurance. Everyone is is focused on paying less and not focused enough on what happens if there is a crash. If there is a motorcycle accident, you want to be protected and with the coverage most motorcycle insurance policies give, you are trusting that the at-fault driver has a great deal of insurance coverage (and that the at-fault driver is not you).
The rules and penalties in Maryland for not having motorcycle insurance are the same as for cars. In Maryland you must show proof of insurance just to register a motorcycle. So without proper insurance, you won't even be able to get Maryland license plates for your bike.
If you terminate your motorcycle insurance, you are actually required to surrender your tags the Maryland Motor Vehicles Administration (MVA) before the coverage ends. Insurance companies will automatically notify the MVA if your insurance is canceled or lapses due to non-payment. The fines and penalties for driving without insurance are significant:
- $150 fine for the first month - then $7 per day (max of $2,500 per year)
- Registration is automatically suspended - driving with a suspended registration can result in separate penalties and your motorcycle can be impounded
If you don't pay your MVA fines after a certain amount of time, the amount due is treated as debt and gets transferred to the Maryland Central Collections Unit (CCU). Once this happens collection charges of 17% get tacked on and CCU will intercept any tax refunds you might get to satisfy the debt. You will also be prohibited from registering any new vehicles with MVA until these fines are paid.
Rates for motorcycle coverage are higher. But the overall cost is typically lower than car insurance. The rates for motorcycle insurance are comparatively more expensive than regular car insurance.
The reason for this is very simple. Riding a motorcycle is much more dangerous and poses a higher risk of an accident compared to driving a car. If you're on a motorcycle, your chance of getting in an accident is much greater. For starters, people who choose to ride motorcycles invariably tend to be risk takers and less conservative drivers in general.
But even a cautious motorcycle rider can't avoid the fact that motorcycles are harder to control than cars. A momentary slip or lapse of concentration on a motorcycle can easily and quickly result in an accident. Motorcycle accidents also have a very high rate of fatalities, for fairly obvious reasons. If you are a responsible motorcyclist, this may not all be true for you. But you are paying for all of the irresponsible motorcyclist when you pay your premium every month.
Despite higher rates, the bottom line cost of your motorcycle insurance will probably be less than your car insurance. The reason for this is that most people don't use their motorcycle as their primary transportation vehicle.
In other words, if you have a motorcycle you're probably not using it to commute to work 5 days a week. You are also not riding it in the rain, snow or other bad weather conditions. Most motorcycles sit in the garage and only come out occasionally for recreation when the weather is good. You also can't have 3 passengers on your motorcycle with you either.
Many motorcycle policies have single rider limitations. For these reasons, motorcycle insurance policies are usually less expensive than the policy for your everyday vehicle.
Rate increases for motorcycle insurance policies are generally based on the same factors as car insurance - driving history, location, etc. However, with motorcycle insurance the type of bike can have a very noticeable impact on insurance rates. The slower, safer types of motorcycles are cheaper to insure compared to the racing bikes.
The public perception of motorcycles and road safety is generally negative. However, the reality is that a large percentage of accidents involving motorcycles are not the fault of the motorcycle rider.
In fact, drivers in cars and trucks often don't notice motorcycles on the road and fail to yield when they should. If you have been injured in an accident on your motorcycle, contact the personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois to find out if you might be entitled to legal compensation. Call us at 1.800.553.8082 or submit a request for a free consultation.