Motorcycle crashes can lead to serious injuries and major medical expenses. As one example, a California motorcyclist was nearly killed in a dramatic crash in which a stolen car collided with a pickup truck and caused the truck to flip and land on top of his motorcycle. After beating the odds to survive his injuries, he was left reliant on a GoFundMe to try to pay his unmanageable hospital bills. Despite having health insurance and clearly not being at fault for the crash, he was left responsible for the cost of being airlifted to an out-of-network hospital. This story highlights how complicated coverage for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident can be. Most motorcycle insurance doesn’t cover medical expenses, and health insurance may not cover everything either.
Overview of Health Insurance Coverage for Motorcycle Accidents in Iowa
In most cases, a motorcycle rider’s health insurance should cover their medical expenses after an accident. However, there are several factors that can complicate this situation. Some health insurance policies exclude care needed for a motorcycle accident, which can put riders in a difficult financial position after an accident. Even without an exclusion, most health insurance plans require at least some out-of-pocket payments, especially for a hospital stay or surgery. Patients may be responsible for copays, deductibles or coinsurance, which can be substantial. Standard motorcycle insurance policies do not cover medical expenses, though medical payment add-ons are available. Even when health insurance does cover motorcycle accidents, coverage might be limited if a rider sees out-of-network doctors or is taken to an out-of-network hospital.
Types of Motorcycle Insurance Policies
Iowa motorcycle riders are required to carry bodily injury and property damage insurance. Bodily injury insurance covers the other driver’s medical expenses in case of a crash, and property damage insurance similarly covers the other driver’s vehicle repair or replacement costs. In addition to the insurance Iowa requires, motorcycle riders can opt for additional coverage that protects the policyholder.
Comprehensive coverage will pay for damage to the motorcycle from something other than an accident, like fire or theft. Collision insurance pays for damage to the policyholder’s motorcycle in case of an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Uninsured and underinsured motorcyclist coverage will fill in the gaps if the policyholder is involved in a crash with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the policyholder’s costs. This can include lost wages as well as medical expenses.
The only time that motorcycle insurance will pay for the policyholder’s medical expenses is if the policy includes personal injury protection. These policies will pay the policyholder’s medical expenses after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. They also cover lost wages if the rider is unable to work after the accident. Medical payments coverage, or Med Pay, is similar but only covers medical expenses. Riders whose health insurance excludes motorcycle injuries should look into these policies. They’re also a good idea for riders who have high deductible health insurance plans or otherwise want to make sure their out-of-pocket costs are taken care of in case of an accident.
What Sort of Compensation Can Riders Receive if They Are Injured?
As with car accidents, motorcycle riders can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if the other driver’s negligence caused the accident. These claims can cover medical expenses as well as repair costs, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. It’s relatively common for crashes between motorcycles and cars to happen because the person driving the car doesn’t notice the motorcycle. For example, one-third of motorcycle crashes involving multiple vehicles happen because a car turned into the motorcycle’s path. Drivers can also be found to be at fault if they were speeding, intoxicated, not paying attention or otherwise driving recklessly.
Iowa uses a modified comparative negligence system, which means that riders can sue for damages even if they were partially at fault, as long as the other driver was primarily responsible. An injured rider can start the process by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. To receive compensation, the rider will need to prove that the other party was responsible for the accident. They’ll also need to determine the amount of compensation they’re asking for. This number should include medical bills, the cost of repairing or replacing the motorcycle, lost earnings and possibly pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Precautions Motorcyclists Should Take to Avoid Injury
Even with the right insurance coverage, a motorcycle accident can be devastating, so riders should focus on prevention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that motorcyclists are eight times more likely to be injured in an accident than people driving cars. This makes safety precautions especially important for motorcycle riders.
Safe riding starts well before the rider gets on a bike. First, motorcyclists should choose a bike that fits them correctly and feels comfortable to ride. It’s also important to plan ahead for all motorcycle trips. This includes keeping an eye on the weather forecast, as rain and snow make riding more dangerous. Motorcyclists should never ride while they’re intoxicated or especially tired. They need to be alert enough to react quickly to any changes on the road.
Protective gear is also essential. Riders should always wear helmets with face shields or separate eye protection. They should also wear gloves, boots that cover their ankles, and long sleeves and pants. Riders need to be diligent about wearing their protective gear even on short trips.
While riding, motorcyclists need to remain aware that those driving cars will often overlook them. Most drivers are looking for other cars, not motorcycles. Riders should assume that the surrounding cars haven’t seen or noticed them and drive accordingly. This means constantly checking mirrors and remaining aware of the other drivers on the road.
Being informed about the potential for passenger injury compensation and the complexities of partial accident compensation can make a significant difference if an incident occurs. Moreover, knowing the expected duration of accident settlements can help in managing both financial and emotional stress post-accident. For this reason, connecting with a knowledgeable auto accident attorney becomes an indispensable step for motorcyclists who seek comprehensive coverage and understanding of their rights and protections.
Insurance coverage for motorcyclists can be complicated. Riders need to take the time to understand both their health insurance and motorcycle insurance policies to ensure that they’ll be covered in case of a motorcycle accident in Des Moines. Contact an attorney who has experience handling motorcycle accident claims or call us at 515-444-4000 as soon as possible for a free consultation.