Accidents can happen at any time. A moment’s inattention, either on your part or that of another driver, can cause severe damage. You can take precautions to decrease the risk of an accident and reduce your odds of severe injury, including wearing a helmet and using protective gear. You likely also carry motorcycle insurance designed to protect you financially in the event of an accident.
Dealing with the insurance adjuster, however, can leave you with more questions than answers. What compensation should you expect after an accident? What kind of motorcycle insurance do you need to safely and legally operate your vehicle in Florida? How does the claim process even work?
If you have specific questions about your coverage or how an insurance policy works, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to learn more.
Required Motorcycle Insurance in Florida
Florida’s auto insurance laws include a no-fault designation that states that each Florida driver must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Motor vehicle drivers should carry a minimum of $10,000 in coverage, and that coverage generally includes 80 percent of all medical expenses related to an accident, regardless of who caused that accident.
That law, however, does not include motorcycle riders.
Motorcycle riders in Florida do not have to carry personal injury protection insurance, nor, in fact, must they legally carry insurance for their motorcycles. Riders may, however, face stiff penalties if involved in an at-fault accident without insurance.
As a motorcycle rider, you should carry insurance coverage at least equal to minimum auto insurance coverage in Florida. Consult your insurance provider to learn more about what options you have for insurance coverage as a motorcycle rider.
A Note on Helmet Use and Motorcycle Insurance
While Florida drivers do not legally have to carry motorcycle insurance to operate and register their motorcycles, motorcyclists may need to carry insurance if they want to ride without wearing a helmet.
Florida law allows drivers over the age of 21 to choose to operate their motorcycles without a helmet. Riders who choose to forego helmet use, however, must carry at least $10,000 in medical coverage, and will need to present proof to law enforcement if asked.
Wearing a helmet substantially decreases the risk of sustaining serious head and neck injury in an accident. All motorcycle riders should wear helmets when possible.
Insurance Coverage Options
Insurance providers offer several options for motorcycle accident coverage. You should carefully discuss your options with your insurance provider to give you a better idea of what type of insurance will work best for your needs. Keep in mind, as you choose your insurance policy, that you need to carry adequate insurance to protect you in the event of an accident.
Liability insurance pays for any damage to others or their properties caused by you while on your motorcycle. For example, if you caused a motorcycle accident due to distraction, liability insurance would pay for any injuries suffered by the other party.
Collision insurance helps protect both you and the other driver involved in an accident. If you carry collision insurance, it will cover the other party’s injuries and property damage. Collision insurance will also provide coverage to help repair damage to your motorcycle after a serious accident. You may want to carry more than minimum collision insurance, especially if you ride an expensive bike.
Uninsured or underinsured coverage will provide compensation if you face an accident with a party that does not carry adequate insurance. As many as 26 percent of Florida drivers do not carry auto insurance, despite the state’s legal mandates concerning insurance. Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the United States. If you face injuries in an accident with a Florida driver who does not carry insurance, uninsured motorist coverage can help provide valuable compensation that will allow you to repair your vehicle and cover some of the costs of your injuries.
Many drivers also find underinsured motorist coverage extremely valuable. Underinsured motorist coverage offers coverage after an accident with a party that does not carry adequate insurance. If you have an expensive motorcycle, the cost of which exceeds the $10,000 minimum coverage drivers must carry in Florida, you may want to add underinsured motorist coverage to your policy so that you can receive the coverage for your injuries.
If you ride a motorcycle in Florida, you may choose to add medical coverage for accidents on your motorcycle. This coverage will provide compensation for medical bills you face as a result of a motorcycle accident, regardless of who caused the accident.
How Motorcycle Insurance Works After an Accident
You had a motorcycle accident. Now what? to maximize the compensation you can receive from the insurance company, either your own or the liable party’s, you should follow the right steps to help protect yourself.
Step One: Report the Accident.
Do your best to preserve the scene of the accident. Unless local regulations mandate moving your motorcycle, do not move it until the police arrive. Call the police immediately to report the accident. When police officers arrive on the scene, they will create an accident report. The report will include vital information taken from the scene of the accident, including information about who the police believe caused the accident.
Give the police an accurate report of the events that surrounded the accident. Do not accept liability for the accident if possible, but do not lie about any events contributing to the accident.
Step Two: Seek Medical Care.
If you believe that you suffered injuries in the accident, you should prioritize medical care over everything else in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Do nothing at the scene of the accident that could worsen your injuries. Go to the hospital. This visit will help to assess your injuries and provide a vital record that will give you a better idea of the extent of your medical bills and, therefore, the compensation you should seek for your injuries.
Step Three: Contact an Attorney.
Once you have an idea of the extent of your injuries, especially if you suffered severe injuries in the accident, get in touch with a motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can give you a better idea of how much compensation you should expect, both for your injuries and the damage to your motorcycle. An attorney can also provide you with more information about how your insurance policy works.
Step Four: Contact Your Insurance Company.
Notify your insurance company about your accident once you have spoken to an attorney. Your insurance company may try to convince you that you do not need an attorney, especially if you need to use your own medical insurance or collision coverage due to the circumstances of the accident. An attorney, however, can help streamline claim approval and give you a much better idea of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Notify your insurance company about the circumstances that led to the accident and any other information you have.
If you carry collision coverage, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident; you should submit the report to your insurance company, which will provide reimbursement for the damage to your bike. The insurance company will then seek reimbursement for those physical damages through the other party’s insurance company. By filing this report, you can get your motorcycle fixed or replaced faster.
Step Five: The Investigation.
After you report the accident to your insurance company, the insurance company will conduct a full investigation into the accident.
This investigation may include:
- An evaluation of the damage to your bike. If you carry collision coverage, the insurance company may want to have a mechanic chosen by the company to evaluate your motorcycle and the damage to it from the accident. The mechanic will provide an assessment of whether the bike is beyond repair, and if not, how much it will cost to fix. Based on that evaluation, the insurance company will then decide whether to offer you the funds needed to repair the bike or to offer you its replacement value. Replacement value means the current value of the motorcycle—what you could sell it for if you were to put it on the market—rather than what you paid for the motorcycle when you purchased it. If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of your policy, you can expect the insurance company to consider the vehicle totaled and offer you its full value.
- An evaluation of your injuries and your medical expenses. The insurance company that offers coverage or compensation for your injuries, whether it’s your own policy or the liable party’s, will need to know the full extent of your injuries and your medical bills. You may need to provide copies of your medical records and your medical bills for the insurance company to examine before receiving compensation. The insurance company may also require you to undergo a medical evaluation by a provider chosen by the company to fully assess the injuries you suffered and the limitations you face as a result of your motorcycle accident.
- An evaluation of the accident itself and all factors that contributed to it. The insurance company that covers the damage to your vehicle and your injuries will try to find all parties responsible for the accident. By identifying another party, the insurance company can reduce its financial liability to you. Your insurance company, for example, may try to prove that the other driver caused the accident, which means that driver’s insurance must offer compensation for the accident. On the other hand, the other driver’s insurance company may try to prove that you caused the accident, since it will reduce that company’s financial liability.
An attorney can help with this evaluation of the accident and its causes. Often, an attorney can help identify additional factors that contributed to the accident: an ill-maintained vehicle, for example, or a commercial driver who, while following company mandates, broke the law or exceeded reasonable expectations for a driver. By identifying all liable parties, you can often increase the compensation you ultimately receive for injuries suffered in your accident.
Step Six: Negotiation
If you use your own insurance to cover damages, including medical expenses, from your motorcycle accident, you will submit a claim to your insurance company, which the insurance company will then, typically, pay out. Usually, this claim amount is based on reports from medical professionals and the mechanic who examines your motorcycle.
If you submit a claim with the other party’s insurance, on the other hand, it may require more negotiation to reach an agreement. Your attorney will submit a demand package that includes all damages associated with your accident: the physical damages to your motorcycle as well as the injuries you faced.
The demand package usually includes compensation for your medical expenses, payment for damage to your vehicle, payment for lost wages, and compensation for the pain and suffering you faced as a result of your accident. Keep in mind that the maximum limits of the policy may influence how much compensation you can ultimately receive for your injuries.
You may need to go through several rounds of negotiation with the liable party’s insurance company before arriving at an agreement that works for you. Consult an attorney to get a better idea of how much compensation you should expect for your injuries.
Step Seven: Mediation/Court
If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiation, you may need to take your claim to court. Before going to court, you will have one last chance at agreement: mediation. During mediation, you will sit down with a mediator, usually an experienced judge or former judge, and have the opportunity to lay out both sides of the insurance claim. The mediator will then make recommendations about what to expect in court and what agreement seems reasonable.
You have no obligation to accept the recommendation of the mediator, nor does the other party’s insurance company. In some cases, the insurance company may refuse to settle.
In court, you will again lay out all of your evidence, your claim, and your demands. The judge will then issue a final verdict on your claim.
Step Eight: Compensation
Once you agree with the insurance company, either through negotiation, mediation, or court order, you will receive compensation from the insurance company. The insurance company has thirty days after reaching an agreement to issue payment. If the payment does not arrive on time, you should consult an attorney to learn more about your legal rights.
Compensation usually comes in the form of a check made out to you, which you can then use to cover financial damages associated with the accident. You can decide how you want to use those funds. For example, you may choose not to use the funds from a settlement to pay for repairs to your motorcycle, especially if you have injuries you know will prevent you from riding again for a long time. Instead, you may elect to focus on your recovery and take care of your motorcycle later. If your motorcycle is totaled in the accident, you may choose not to replace it.
How Does Motorcycle Insurance Work After a Crash? Your FAQs Answered
If you have questions about your specific coverage or the conditions that led to your accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Here, we answer some of the most common questions related to motorcycle accident insurance and how it works.
1. What compensation should I expect after an Orlando motorcycle accident?
The compensation you receive will depend on who caused your accident and how severe of injuries you suffered.
After a motorcycle accident, your claim divides into clear parts:
- Physical damages. Physical damages include the damage to your motorcycle and any other possessions during the accident. If you caused the accident and carry full-coverage or comprehensive insurance, your insurance company will pay for repairs to or replacement of your motorcycle, minus your deductible. The extent of these damages will depend on the coverage you carry.
- Medical expenses. Motorcycle accidents can cause severe injuries. Those injuries, in turn, can cause your medical bills to mount rapidly. As a Florida motorcycle rider, you should carry insurance specifically designed to cover motorcycle accident injuries. Usually, you will attach this coverage to your health insurance policy, and you should consult your health insurance provider to learn more about what coverage you have.
If someone else caused your accident, that party, or that party’s insurance company, will provide payment for medical expenses as part of your motorcycle accident claim. This coverage does not necessarily include all medical expenses suffered as a result of your accident, since you may receive compensation based on the limits of the policy. Florida drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for bodily injury suffered to another party as a result of that driver’s actions.
Some drivers, however, carry additional insurance that can provide further protection. Uber and Lyft drivers, for example, carry up to $1 million in insurance coverage, depending on the driver’s status at the time of the accident. Commercial truck drivers typically also carry high-limit policies that can provide substantial compensation in the event of an accident.
In addition to coverage for your medical expenses, you can expect a motorcycle accident claim to include compensation for your lost wages and pain and suffering. Consult an attorney to learn more about how to include these elements as part of your claim.
2. Do I have to carry motorcycle insurance to operate my motorcycle in Orlando?
In most states, you must carry motorcycle insurance to operate a motorcycle legally on the city streets. In Florida, however, motorcycles fall under a different category. Legally, you do not have to carry motorcycle insurance to operate a motorcycle in Florida. You can, however, face severe legal and financial penalties if you fail to carry adequate insurance to protect yourself and other drivers on the road.
Florida’s law does include specific requirements for insurance and helmet use. Motorcycle riders over the age of 21 may choose not to wear a helmet in Florida. If a rider chooses not to wear a helmet, however, he or she must carry a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance coverage for motorcycle accidents. Riders may need to provide proof of this medical coverage to law enforcement officers if stopped or involved in an accident.
3. Can I use my personal injury protection insurance to cover a percentage of the injuries suffered in an Orlando motorcycle accident?
Florida’s personal injury protection insurance law applies to drivers who operate motor vehicles, not necessarily to motorcycle riders. Your motorcycle insurance policy may not include personal injury protection insurance, and many insurers do not offer that coverage for motorcycle riders.
Motorcycle riders often suffer much more severe injuries in accidents than other drivers due to the lack of protection motorcycles offer from the road and other obstacles. As a result, personal injury protection coverage would cost insurance companies a great deal more for these drivers.
You cannot use personal injury protection coverage that you carry for use in a vehicle if you suffer injuries while riding a motorcycle.
4. What should I do after an Orlando motorcycle accident?
Do not leave the scene of the motorcycle accident without reporting the accident to the police. You do not want to just exchange insurance information with the other party and walk away if you can avoid it. You cannot legally leave the scene of an accident unless you need to seek medical care or feel unsafe at the accident scene for some reason. Try to preserve the scene so that the police can get a full idea of what occurred when the officers arrive.
If possible, take pictures of the accident scene. You should not jeopardize your physical safety or health, but should try to collect evidence, if possible.
Seek medical attention, if you need it. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible, if you suffered injuries, to determine your eligibility to seek compensation to aid in your recovery.
5. What if I do not seek medical attention immediately after my accident, but I discover injuries later? May I still file a motorcycle accident claim against the liable party’s insurance?
Ideally, you should seek medical care immediately after your accident, even if you believe that you did not suffer serious injuries. You may have severe injuries camouflaged by the adrenaline flooding your system after the accident. Receiving medical evaluation and treatment immediately after an accident can help you identify all of your injuries and avoid making them worse.
Unfortunately, some motorcycle accident victims choose not to go to the hospital, especially if they can move freely around the scene of the accident or if they do not immediately notice injury symptoms. You might, for example, worry about the cost of visiting the emergency room after your accident, or have other plans with which going to the hospital will interfere.
While you should make every effort to go anyway, you can still file a motorcycle accident claim against the liable party’s insurance, even if you did not receive medical care immediately after the accident. You should keep in mind, however, that if you wait to seek medical care, the liable party’s insurance company may attempt to claim that your injuries occurred at another time, which could reduce the compensation you ultimately receive.
6. What should I do about my medical bills after an Orlando motorcycle accident?
When you receive medical care after an accident, you will sign paperwork indicating that you accept financial responsibility for all of the treatments you receive. As the injured party, and the one receiving care, you will bear primary liability for any costs you face as a result of the accident.
However, you do have several options that can alleviate some of the financial burden associated with serious injuries—a burden that may grow even harder to bear due to your inability to work following a serious accident.
- Use your insurance. Ideally, you should carefully evaluate your policy and your coverage and know how much medical coverage you have and what you should use long before a motorcycle accident occurs. Many bikers, however, may choose to simply accept their insurance providers’ recommendations regarding recommended coverage, and may not know what those policies will cover before an accident. If you carry motorcycle accident coverage through your auto insurance provider, you may need to provide that insurance to the doctors at the hospital. On the other hand, if you carry only standard medical coverage, you will need to use that insurance to cover your injuries.
- File a motorcycle accident claim. If you have grounds for a motorcycle accident claim, you should still make arrangements to cover your medical bills. The liable party, or, more often, its insurance company, will not cover those bills directly. Instead, the insurance company will issue payment to you in a motorcycle accident settlement, which you can then use to cover your medical expenses. If you cannot cover your medical bills until you receive compensation through a motorcycle accident claim, you may choose to have your attorney write a letter of protection, which will establish your intent to pay once you receive those funds. The letter of protection can make it easier for you to continue much-needed medical treatments in the aftermath of your accident.
7. Will my medical insurance cover an Orlando motorcycle accident?
If you carry medical insurance, you should have your lawyer talk to your medical insurance provider about what coverage you can expect after a motorcycle accident. Usually, if another party causes your accident and your injuries, your insurance company will expect compensation through that party to cover your medical expenses. Once you have exceeded the amount of your motorcycle accident claim, as is common in the case of many severe injuries, your medical insurance will provide much-needed coverage for ongoing treatment.
You should ask your medical insurance provider about what type of coverage you have in specific scenarios. Ask:
- What in-network providers should you use to maximize your coverage?
- What copays and deductibles should you expect?
- What is your out-of-pocket maximum for the calendar year? Does it reset in January or on the date your coverage started?
- Does your insurance policy offer coverage for physical therapy? How much?
- How much will your insurance company cover for durable medical equipment?
8. The other driver’s insurance company contacted me and offered a settlement before I had a chance to call a lawyer. Should I accept it?
After a serious motorcycle accident, the other driver’s insurance company may get in touch with you before you have a chance to make arrangements or even learn more about your legal rights. The insurance company will often try to minimize its financial liability as much as possible. One commonly-used tactic includes offering a low settlement offer to an accident victim with serious injuries, then pressuring you to accept that offer.
The insurance company may try to convince you that it has given you a “limited time” offer or that you need to accept fast so that you can pay your bills. Before accepting this offer, however, take the time to talk to an attorney so that you can go in with a better understanding of the full value of your claim.
Do You Need an Orlando Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Regardless of who caused your accident, dealing with insurance can cause a great deal of stress and leave you worried that you did not receive enough compensation to cover the full cost of your injuries. If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by another party or believe that your insurance company has not offered you fair compensation, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814