Most articles that you will read concerning what to do after a motorcycle accident pertain specifically to documenting the scene, seeing a doctor and calling an attorney – but what should you do with your bike?
After an accident, your motorcycle could be totaled, or it may just have minor cosmetic damage. Whether you should pay for those damages out of your own pocket, file a claim with your insurer or file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company depends on who was at fault and how serious the damage is.
If you’re in a single vehicle accident (you lowside and your bike has some cosmetic damage, for example) and the cost of repairs is under your deductible or only slightly over your deductible, you may choose to pay for those repairs out of pocket.
Riders involved in a multivehicle accident where the other driver is at fault should either file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, or if the insurance companies are still investigating, consider filing with your own insurance company, who will, if they determine that you were not at fault, go after the other insurance company on your behalf and get your deductible back, as well as the money that they paid to you. You shouldn’t have to pay to repair damages you didn’t cause.
Checking Your Motorcycle After an Accident
If your motorcycle has been damaged in any way, it is best that you not attempt to ride it home after the accident. However, that is not always a practical option. If you feel that your only option is to ride your motorcycle home after an accident, you should do a basic once-over of your bike to make sure it’s still safe to ride.
- Roll the motorcycle forwards and backwards; is it making any kind of strange crunching or rattling noises, or does it seem to be moving unencumbered by serious damage?
- Check your tires for cuts and gashes. Make sure there isn’t severe damage to your wheels that may prevent them from rolling as they normally would.
- Turn your handlebars to make sure you can control the motorcycle like normal. Make sure your clutch is still working properly.
- Before you start your bike, visually check your brake lines and look at the sight glass of your brake fluid reservoirs to make sure there hasn’t been a leak that might compromise your ability to brake. You should give you brakes a squeeze when rolling your bike to confirm it’s not harder to stop than normal. If the calipers are harder to squeeze than usual there could be a problem with the brake lines, or the rotors may have been bent during the accident. You shouldn’t try to ride even short distances if you can’t safely brake.
- Lastly you should also check your signals and lights. Although they may not prevent you from riding it’s still good to know if that’s something you need to put on your to-do list of repairs.
Whether or not your bike is totaled may depend on a lot of the previously listed factors. From an insurance perspective, any vehicle is generally considered “totaled” if it would cost close to or more to repair the vehicle than what the vehicle is worth.
Should You Pay for Repairs or Just Replace It?
This depends on the rider, their attachment to their bike and the damage it suffered. In some cases, the choice may be up to you. Is the insurance company going to cut you a check to cover repairs? You could choose to sell your motorcycle for scrap or to someone who will restore it and take the money from your claim to buy a replacement bike.
The insurance company may just decide your motorcycle is totaled and pay you its fair market value/actual cash value. The cash value will likely be based on a formulaic determination or the value listed by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) value minus depreciation. Be warned, this won’t be nearly as much as its original purchase price if you bought the bike new.
You may need to take your motorcycle to a repair shop so they can send a repair cost estimate to the insurance company. Riders can choose where they take their motorcycle for a repair estimate, but going to one of an insurance company’s preferred mechanics may speed up the process. The insurance company will take a preferred mechanic’s word for how much repairs will cost, then pay the mechanic for your bike’s repairs.
Can You Keep Your Bike If It’s Totaled?
In most states the local DMV, based on the governing statutes and rules, brands the titles of totaled vehicles as “salvage” and the insurance company retains the vehicle and title as part of your loss settlement agreement. Insurance companies offset the claim payments for these totaled vehicles by auctioning them off for scrap.
You may be able to keep a totaled motorcycle and even repair the bike (but you’ll likely get less back on your claim). It can be hard to get motorcycles with salvage titles insured, and for most motor vehicles a salvage title knocks about 20 to 40 percent off the resale value even after they’ve been repaired.
Vintage Motorcycle Insurance
There are several reasons to consider getting vintage motorcycle insurance if you have an older or custom motorcycle. For one thing, the NADA value on your motorcycle may be a lot lower than what you’ve actually put into your bike in terms of time and money.
In some cases, a rider without adequate insurance may find out the value the insurance company puts on their motorcycle is nowhere near the repair or replacement cost.
Making sure you have adequate vintage or custom motorcycle comprehensive and collision coverage is a must if you don’t want to get shortchanged on your insurance claim payment.
Get Representation After a Motorcycle Accident Injury
If you’re a rider in Virginia, South Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia who has been involved in a motorcycle accident, call the Motorcycle Law Group at 855-LAW-RIDERS. Our lawyers are riders, so they understand the unique challenges that face motorcyclists after accidents of all types.
Riders worried about getting blamed for an accident that wasn’t their fault, and those concerned they won’t get the money they need to pay for medical bills or bike replacement costs, may benefit from working with The Firm that Rides®.