Pa. Supreme Court Decision Emphasizes Importance of Obtaining Sufficient Insurance for Motorcycle Riders

Pa. Supreme Court Decision Emphasizes Importance of Obtaining Sufficient Insurance for Motorcycle Riders

Most motorcycle riders are aware of the unfortunate reality that there is a special risk of injury when riding on a motorcycle. The agility and smaller size of motorcycles can cause other motorists to have difficulty judging their speed and distance, or to lose them in a blind spot. Being injured by another driver’s negligence is unfortunately common, and the injuries that occur are usually more serious and traumatic when the injured person was riding a motorcycle.

Many times, motorists who have negligently injured others are either under-insured, or uninsured completely. Even an insured driver in Pennsylvania can have as little as $15,000 of coverage to protect other motorists they may injure. Medical expenses, lost income, and other damages from a motorcycle accident will often far exceed the insurance coverages which other drivers have.

Therefore, it is important to carry coverage from your own insurance policy called Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage, or UM/UIM for short. UM/UIM insurance is optional in Pennsylvania, but it must be offered on all policies in varying amounts from $15,000 and up, and all waivers of coverage must be in writing.

Erie v. Mione Decision

In a February 15, 2023 decision, Erie v. Mione, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the validity of the “household vehicle exclusion” that almost always appears in Pennsylvania UM/UIM policies. This exclusion states that the UM/UIM coverage does not apply to vehicles in the household which are not named in the policy from which you are seeking UM/UIM benefits. (This typically is referring to motorcycles — since most insurer carriers will not issue a policy which covers both cars/trucks and motorcycles, you are forced to seek a separate policy for your motorcycle.)

In Erie v. Mione, the motorcycle rider who was injured had waived UM/UIM coverage on his motorcycle policy. The Supreme Court rejected his attempts to use the UM/UIM policies in place for the other cars in the household. Therefore, he is at the mercy of the bodily injury liability coverage that was purchased by the at-fault driver, with no additional UM/UIM coverage available.

The Importance of UM/UIM Coverage

It is important for motorcycle riders to be aware that even if you have UM/UIM coverage for your cars and other four-wheeled vehicles, in most cases this coverage will not apply if you were riding your motorcycle at the time of injury. There are some exceptions, especially when it comes to questions of “stacking” coverage between motorcycle and vehicle policies. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made clear in its decision this week that someone who waives UM/UIM on a motorcycle policy altogether has no coverage to “stack” in the first place.

Therefore, motorcycle riders would be wise to review the insurance policies covering their bikes to ensure UM/UIM coverage was purchased on the motorcycle policy itself. While this coverage may be more expensive than similar UM/UIM coverage would be on a non-motorcycle, it is important to protect you and your loved ones in the unfortunate event of a serious injury.

Call Our Firm to Learn More About Motorcycle Insurance

A motorcycle crash can be one of the most severe and traumatic events an individual ever faces. If you are injured due to another motorists negligence, our experienced team at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can walk you through your available insurance coverage and options to recover compensation for your injuries.