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Motorcycle Insurance- More than Liability

Motorcycle Accident Claim in California

California Motorcycle Law

I get hundreds of calls from motorcyclists and injured persons who have been involved in accidents. One of my first questions to them is "what type of insurance do you have?", and the response is normally, "I have full coverage." Unfortunately, too many of my motorcyclists colleagues find that they do not have "full coverage" or, for that matter, have any coverage whatsoever that may provide coverage for their accident. Many people do not know the ins and outs of their insurance, whether it be home, health, or automobile, in the event of a motorcycle accident.

In California, motorcyclists are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance coverage. This is $15,000.00 per person and $30,000.00 per accident, also called a "15/30" coverage. Motorcyclists are not required to carry property damage coverage, medical payment coverage, rental coverage, or any other coverage. Sometimes, when a person buys a new motorcycle, they will purchase insurance coverage usually from a company called Pacific Specialty, where the coverage is only for covering the loan on the motorcycle. This means that there is no liability coverage afforded to the driver, motorcyclist, and only coverage for the motorcycle itself in case it is damaged. In other words, Pacific Specialty and the motorcycle sales location is protecting themselves and their assets in case the motorcycle is damaged. Sometimes this is false security and the motorcyclist will believe that he has liability insurance, when in fact he does not.

In California, each motorist is required to carry liability coverage of $15,000.00 per person. If a person does not have the proper liability coverage, they may have their license suspended and receive a citation for failing to have proof of liability insurance at the time of the accident. As a former judge pro tem, I recommend that each and every driver carry the requisite liability insurance to avoid the expensive ramifications of failing to carry liability insurance at an accident. In addition, if you do not have proper liability insurance, you may be personally responsible for a judgment.

But when it comes time to making a claim against the insurance policy, too often we find that our motorcycle clients do not have the coverage that they thought they did, adequate coverage or, worse yet, have no coverage at all.

I will try to outline below, the different types of insurance coverage and the benefits which you, as a motorcyclist, are entitled to after an accident. After an accident, it is important to obtain the name, address, and telephone number of the driver at fault, witnesses, and the other party?s insurance information.

Many times, our motorcycle accident victim clients are placed on a backboard with a C-spine support and transported by ambulance to the emergency room. They never have the opportunity to talk to the other driver and exchange insurance information. When they attempt to obtain the insurance information, they are told by the California Highway Patrol or traffic officer that the insurance information will be on the "Traffic Collision Report" and that Traffic Collision Report will take the famous "7 to 10 working days" before it is completed. As such, for 7 to 10 days, the motorcyclist is "in limbo" as he does not know whether the driver at fault had any type of insurance whatsoever. As such, without the information as to insurance coverage, it is difficult to make those important decisions regarding rental car, towing, or healthcare choices for our clients.

At The Reinecke Law Firm, we have experience in obtaining insurance coverage, as early as possible. We can normally talk to the officer and get the "face page" of the Traffic Collision Report and begin our investigation immediately. However, we must normally meet with the motorcyclist client from the onset to obtain the Traffic Collision Report number and the name of the officer.

In addition, if the motorcycle accident victim has a license number of the vehicle, we can run a DMV search, or do a DMV SR19 Form to obtain the insurance information for the driver at fault. Sometimes, we are required to hire an investigator to determine and locate the driver at fault and his assets and insurance.

The motorcycle attorneys at The Reinecke Law Firm need to learn the identity of all available insurance sources, policies and coverage. We know how to read and decipher insurance policies, submit insurance claims to the proper insurer, and pursue the prompt, fair and equitable payment of claims.


Tom Reinecke

California Motorcycle Lawyer