What kind of insurance coverage is required for motorcycles in Washington State?

Liability Coverage and Motorcycles

In the state of Washington, motorcyclists are not required to carry liability insurance. That means that if a motorcyclist causes an accident by hitting a pedestrian, a bicyclist, another motorcyclist, or even a small car, that victim may not be able to go after the at-fault motorcyclist’s insurance company for damages. However, if you cause an accident as a motorcyclist, you may be required to put up a bond to pay for the damages you caused. If you cannot put up a bond, the Department of Licensing may suspend your license.

However, if you were hit by a car, that driver’s liability coverage will cover your damages (assuming that the driver had purchased sufficient liability coverage). Because car versus motorcycle accidents can result in severe injuries to the motorcyclist, you may get some pushback from the other driver’s insurance company about the extent and severity of your injuries and the amount of money you need for recovery and palliative care. This is why it’s a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident if you have severe injuries.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Motorcycles

Under Washington state law, insurance companies are not required to offer Personal Injury Protection coverage if you only ride a motorcycle. That is not the case for automobile insurance where the carrier must offer PIP coverage on your auto policy unless you reject this coverage in writing. Even if you have PIP coverage under your auto policy, this coverage will likely not apply to your motorcycle unless the policy specifically provides coverage while operating your motorcycle. PIP is considered no-fault coverage (PIP coverage starts at $10,000 per collision and can go up to $100,000) that will cover expenses like medical bills and time off work. PIP can also cover funeral expenses up to a certain amount. Since PIP is no-fault coverage, it will be offered to you regardless of which driver caused the accident.

Even if you think you’ll never need it, it is a very good idea to have PIP coverage. PIP is a “no fault” type of insurance that will pay for your expenses no matter how an accident happened. Even if you’re the one at fault for an accident, PIP is available to you.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection

UM/UIM is another time of coverage that insurance companies in Washington State are required to offer car drivers but not motorcyclists. UM/UIM is extremely important coverage, and even more important for motorcyclist’s to have.  This type of coverage will protect you if the other driver has no insurance or inadequate insurance to pay for all your damages.   Since even a minor accident involving a motorcyclist can result in catastrophic injuries or death to the motorcyclist, it is important that the motorcyclist carry as much UM/UIM as he or she can afford.  At Davis Law Group, we have represented many motorcyclists who did not have this coverage, or had a small amount when their injuries were very severe and their damages substantial.  Many times the other driver will not carry enough insurance to cover all of the motorcyclist’s damages so having high UM/UIM limits is well worth the money spent.

Simply put, the person operating a motorcycle should carry at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 of UM/UIM coverage.  If you don’t have enough of this coverage, and you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you could be forced to file for bankruptcy if there is insufficient insurance to pay for your past and future medical bills.