As most motorcyclists in Michigan know by now, our revised helmet law gives a motorcyclist the choice to ride without a helmet, so long as he/she meets the age, experience and insurance requirements. Most motorcyclists also know that the insurance requirement is that the motorcycle insurance policy must contain at least $20,000.00 in medical benefits for the operator (and an additional $20,000.00 to cover a passenger) payable in the event of a motorcycle accident.
All too frequently, I have heard motorcyclists who choose to wear a helmet make comments such as, “I don’t need medical benefits on my motorcycle insurance policy since I am not going to ride without a helmet.” or “Why would I spend the extra money to get medical benefits on my motorcycle insurance policy? Only people who want to ride without a helmet need that.”
While it is true that medical benefits on a motorcycle insurance policy are only “required” if you want to ride without a helmet, any responsible motorcyclist in the State of Michigan interested in his/her own financial security should purchase as much medical benefit coverage on their motorcycle insurance policy that he/she can afford. This is true regardless of whether you plan on wearing a helmet or not.
This is because in Michigan, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident that does not involve a motor vehicle (i.e., car, truck, bus, etc.), nor does it involve a defective roadway where you can sue a negligent road commission or department of transportation for your medical bills based on their failure to keep the road in reasonable repair, then the motorcyclist is on his/her own hook for medical expenses.
This means that if you are riding your bike and hit a deer, a bicycle, a pedestrian, a tree, another motorcycle, or simply lose control and go down due to wet pavement during a rain shower, you will be responsible for paying your own medical expenses resulting from the accident.
In that situation, if you have medical benefits on your motorcycle insurance policy, you can make a claim for these benefits to take care of your medical expenses. Those riders who receive Medicare or Medicaid can also make a claim against these entitles for payment, but with the ever restricting rules on payment by governmental entities, it makes sense to have medical benefits on your motorcycle insurance policy as a “back up plan” if Medicare or Medicaid doesn’t make the payments.
Most commonly, I hear motorcyclists say that they have health insurance (i.e., Blue Cross, HAP, etc.) so there is no need for them to waste money purchasing medical benefits on his/her motorcycle policy. My advice to those persons is to make absolutely certain that your health insurance will cover medical expenses arising out of a motorcycle accident before they completely dismiss the thought of purchasing medical benefits on their bike policy. You may be surprised to find, as many motorcyclist I have talked to have found out the hard way, that your health insurance has specific exclusions for injuries arising out of a motorcycle accident. Some of these exclusions come under the guise of excluding benefits for injuries arising out of “dangerous activities”, and the policy goes on to define motorcycling as one such activity. If you have one of those types of exclusions on your health insurance, you had better have medical benefits on your motorcycle policy or else be ready to open your checkbook to take care of your medical expenses.
The bottom line is that while medical benefits on one’s motorcycle insurance policy is only “required” if one wants to ride without a helmet, it is strongly recommended or you risk footing your own tab for your medical expenses arising out of a motorcycle accident.