Insurers See Mixed Results in 2003 Legislation Affecting Motorcycle Insurance

July 25, 2003

As the public’s interest in motorcycle riding has reportedly grown
over the last decade, so has insurance company interest grown in meeting the needs of this segment of the marketplace. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, (MIC) 2002 sales were up 9.4 percent, capping 10 consecutive years of growth in the U.S. motorcycle market.

“The increase in motorcycle ownership is leading many insurers to take a closer look at several factors affecting motorcycle insurance costs, including legislative developments,” said Kathleen Jensen, insurance services counsel and motorcycle committee liaison for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII).

This year there were mixed results in legislative efforts to keep costs down by enacting measures that would help reduce the number of accidents.

Tennessee lawmakers enacted legislation that will allow motorcycles to run a red light when their motorcycle does not trigger the sensor that makes the traffic light turn green in their direction, provided they stop and look around carefully. Law enforcement officials and other traffic safety experts are concerned that this law increases the chances of intersection accidents.

Maine enacted a bill that requires drivers’ education courses to include instruction on sharing the road with motorcycles. Kentucky established a Motorcycle Advisory Commission for Highway Safety to assist the Transportation Cabinet in ensuring that highway design, construction and maintenance policies and procedures consider the specific needs of motorcycles. “These measures will help reduce the number of accidents involving motorcycles and help contain costs,” said Jensen.

Oregon and Virginia took steps to address the visibility of motorcycles, which is reportedly a major cause of accidents.

The Oregon legislation specifies that a motorcycle may not be equipped with more than three headlights and standardizes rear mounted lighting equipment. Motorcycles in Virginia will be required to have at least one brake light and red taillight plainly visible in clear weather from 500 feet.

“These bills were of note to the NAII Motorcycle Insurance Committee because they enable insurers to know what equipment is legally allowed when making cost-effective repairs on damaged motorcycles,” added Jensen.

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