Insurance Coverage for Motorcycles

Whether it is warmer weather or increased fuel costs, more motorcycles are evident on America's roads and highways. There is a greater danger involved in riding a motorcycle than in driving a car. As a result, insurance companies treat motorcycles and their riders differently than automobiles and their passengers. Such treatment does not violate the constitutional right of equal protection under the law.

Motorcycle owners and operators must obtain insurance that specifically covers the risks inherent in the use of motorcycles. Insurance on motorcycles can be limited to liability coverage. Some states exempt motorcycles from mandatory personal injury protection coverage. An insurance company's denial of coverage under the medical payment portion of a policy to an insured, who was killed while riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, did not violate a state insurance provision that insurance on a life had to apply to all persons within a class and that reasonable grounds had to exist for making a distinction between those within and without the class.

Most automobile insurance policies expressly exclude motorcycles as covered vehicles. The same is true of homeowners' liability coverage that excludes losses arising out of ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of an automobile. That exclusion applies to both cars and motorcycles.

While an insurance company can attempt to exclude motorcycles from the definition of an uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle on the grounds that motorcycles are not motor vehicles, most courts have held that motorcycles should be included under the uninsured/underinsured motorist endorsement. However, some states permit the exclusion of underinsured motorist coverage for all claims involving motorcycle injuries.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.