Whether you are purchasing your first motorcycle or are a lifelong biker who is new to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you will need to purchase motorcycle insurance in order to comply with state law. Although motorcycle insurance and automobile insurance coverage are conceptually similar, there are some important differences that you should understand when shopping for a policy.
What Are the Basic Liability Coverage Requirements in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania requires that all motorcycle operators carry minimum liability coverage. The minimum requirements are $15,000 bodily injury, $30,000 each accident, and $5,000 property damage. Liability insurance covers damage to another person or damage to the property of another person, not to you, if you are at fault in a collision. You may always increase the coverage amounts on your policy; however, you must maintain at least the minimum coverage to be in compliance with the law.
Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Both underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage are optional types of coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage fills in the gap if another motorist is at fault in a collision, however, the at-fault driver’s coverage is inadequate to cover your losses. For example, assume that you are injured in a collision and your damages total $25,000, but the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy only covers up to $15,000. Your underinsured motorist coverage may cover the $10,000 difference. Likewise, uninsured motorist coverage covers a situation where an at-fault driver did not have liability insurance at all. In our example, your uninsured motorist coverage should cover all your losses up to the policy limit.
Note: Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverages are optional coverage; however, insurance companies are required to include them in your policy unless you specifically reject them. You will need to sign a form indicating that you reject the coverage if you do not want it.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Benefits
You may recognize the term “Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Benefits” from your vehicle insurance coverage since it is required to be included in car insurance policies. This type of insurance covers expenses related to personal injuries without regard to who was at fault in the collision. The law does not require a motorcycle insurance policy to include PIP/medical benefits coverage in Pennsylvania. You may elect the coverage or rely on your own health insurance policy to pay for medical bills if you are injured.
One unique consideration with motorcycle insurance is accessory coverage. Bikers tend to have a lot of expensive gear and “accessories,” such as customized parts and equipment, paint, helmet coverage, and safety apparel. Consequently, most motorcycle insurance either includes accessories coverage without an additional premium or offers you the option to include it at an additional premium.
Pennsylvania’s Tort System
If you are purchasing motorcycle insurance in Pennsylvania, you need to understand the tort system in place in the state. For automobile insurance policies, you must choose whether you want full tort or limited tort coverage. If you elect full tort coverage, you will be entitled to claim non-economic damages, commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” in the event of a motorcycle accident. Limited tort coverage does not include non-economic damages unless you suffered a serious injury. Motorcycle insurance, however, is automatically written as full tort coverage.
When shopping for any type of insurance it is always smart to ask about discounts. When shopping for motorcycle insurance, there are a few common discounts that might apply, such as a multi-vehicle discount if you also insure another vehicle and/or a safe driver discount if you have a good driving record. Many insurers also offer discounts if you completed a motorcycle safety course as well as if you have a factory installed anti-lock braking system which helps you maintain control during a sudden stop. Finally, membership in certain organizations, such as AAA or AARP can lead to a discount.