If you ride a motorcycle in California, you need insurance. A motorcycle insurance policy helps uphold your financial responsibility in the event of an accident, and optional policies like collision coverage can help pay for your own damages. Because auto insurance does not cover motorcycles, you will need to purchase an additional policy to comply with state laws and protect your interests.
Like most states, California follows a fault-based system when it comes to accidents. This means that drivers are financially liable for their victims’ damages in accidents they are responsible for. All drivers need to carry liability insurance—including motorcyclists.
You will need to purchase coverage in the following minimum amounts.
If you are responsible for a collision, this insurance will pay for the victims’ damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs. However, this insurance will not pay for your own losses—you will need to purchase additional coverage to cover these losses. If you are in an accident where another driver is at fault, you can recover compensation by filing a claim with his or her insurance policy, or by filing a lawsuit against him or her in civil court.
It is illegal to operate a motorcycle without insurance in California. The state requires you to carry proof of insurance at all times while riding your bike. If you are caught riding without insurance, the state can levy serious penalties against you. Your bike may be impounded, and you will need to pay additional fees to get it back.
You will also be charged a fine based on the number of previous offenses on your driving record. If this is the first time you have been caught riding without insurance, you will need to pay a fine between $100 and $200 plus penalty assessments. For a second offense, your fine will be between $200 and $500.
While many motorcyclists and drivers comply with California insurance laws, not all do. Without insurance coverage, a driver is solely responsible for the damages of their victims. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, however, you are unable to file an insurance claim to recover the compensation you deserve.
Your options will be to either file a lawsuit against him or her in civil court, or to file a claim under your own policy. For that reason, it is important to hold uninsured motorist coverage—this optional policy pays for your damages in these situations. However, you will need to prove that the other driver is responsible for the collision in order to secure compensation.
To protect yourself and preserve evidence, take the following steps after your accident.
If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will examine your case and explain your options to recover the compensation you deserve. After receiving medical treatment, contact a San Francisco motorcycle accident lawyer to discuss your next steps.