ABATE of Michigan
Fighting for the rights of all motorcyclists since 1976
In October’s edition of the Michigan Rider, I wrote about the devastating impact that Senate Bill 1 which was passed into law this May, has on a motorcyclist right to receive his/her medical expenses and attendant care benefits under Michigan’ No Fault Act. To recap, starting July 1, 2020, persons applying for or renewing their auto insurance will be given a choice to opt out or cap their medical expense coverage under no fault. Those choices will include opting out of medical expense coverage completely (if the person has Medicare and any spouse or relative in the household have health insurance which covers accidents, Medicare or is covered under another auto policy); capping at $50,000.00 (if the person has Medicaid); $250,000.00; $500,000.00; or to keep unlimited benefits as the “old” no fault law provided for.
HERE IS THE POTENTIALLY CRIPPLING EFFECT THIS HAS ON MOTORCYCLISTS: When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, it is the insurer of the owner, registrant or operator of the involved automobile that is first in priority to pay the motorcyclists no fault benefits. Under the new law, a motorcyclist is bound by the cap that the motorist chose for himself/herself on his/her own auto policy! For example, if the motorist chose a $50,000.00 cap for himself on his auto insurance policy and he is involved in an accident with a motorcycle, the motorcyclist’s no-fault benefits are capped at $50,000.00! Thus, while motorists will have a direct choice on the amount of no-fault benefits available in the event they are injured in an accident, motorcyclists have no such choice. There are limited exceptions where a motorcyclist may bypass the auto policy and look to the next policy in order of priority to pay, but even with the exception, once you reach an insurance policy in proper priority to pay, the motorcyclist is bound by the applicable cap on the policy.
Fortunately, while Senate Bill 1 was passed into law in May of this year, the above referenced portion of the bill regarding motorcyclists does not take effect until July 1, 2020.
As I discussed in Octobers article, I drafted a proposed bill (SB 528) that would remove the motorcyclist from being held hostage and capped by the auto insurance policy of the involved motorist, and instead would allow the motorcyclist to claim his/her no fault benefits from his/her own auto policy, just as every other category of injured persons in an accident is allowed to do under the law. This way, whatever “cap” the motorcyclist chooses on his/her auto policy after July 1, 2020, he/she can rest assured that same “cap” will apply if he/she is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle on his/her motorcycle.
It is critical that all ABATE members contact your legislators and educate them about the disastrous effect this law is going to have on motorcyclists.
To that end, on the ABATE of Michigan website you will find some sample letters that you can use as a template to send to your legislator asking for their support for SB 528. For those that choose to contact your legislator by phone, below are some talking point that you can use in your conversation:
TALKING POINTS IN SUPPORT OF SENATE BILL 528
1. UNDER SENATE BILL 1, BEGINNING JULY 1, 2020, MOTORISTS OBTAINING OR RENEWING THEIR AUTO INSURANCE WILL BE GIVEN THE OPTION TO CAP THE MEDICAL PORTION OF THEIR NO FAULT BENEFITS AT $50,000.00, $250,000.00 OR $500,000.00.
2. UNDER SENATE BILL 1, THE INSURER OF THE OWNER OR OPERATOR OF THE INVOLVED MOTOR VEHICLE IS FIRST IN PRIORITY TO PAY AN INJURED MOTORCYCLISTS NO FAULT BENEFITS AND THE MOTORCYCLISTS CLAIM FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES IS BOUND BY THE CAP CHOSEN BY THE MOTORIST ON THE MOTORIST’S AUTO POLICY.
3. MANY INJURED MOTORCYCLISTS INCUR MEDICAL EXPENSES IN EXCESS OF $500,000.00, LET ALONE THE LESSER CAPS OF $50,000,00 AND $250,000.00 THAT MOTORISTS WILL BE GIVEN THE OPTION TO CHOOSE FROM.
4. IN BINDING THE INJURED MOTORCYCLIST TO THE CAP THE MOTORIST SELECTS FOR HIMSELF/HERSELF ON HIS/HER AUTO INSURANCE WILL CAUSE THE MANY MOTORCYCLISTS AT RISK OF EXCEEDING THE CAP TO FILE BANKRUPTCY OR FILE FOR MEDICARE OR MEDICAID, PUTTING ADDITIONAL BURDEN ON THESE ALREADY STRAINED ENTITIES.
5. MOTORISTS AND PEDESTRIANS INVOLVED IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT CLAIM NO FAULT BENEFITS FROM THEIR OWN AUTO INSURANCE POLICIES. IT IS DISCRIMINATORY TO ALLOW MOTORISTS AND PEDESTRIANS TO CHOOSE A CAP FOR HIMSELF/HERSELF WHILE MOTORCYCLISTS ARE BOUND BY THE CHOICE MADE BY THE MOTORIST.
6. SENATE BILL 528 FIXES THIS SITUATION BY PLACING THE MOTORCYCLIST’S OWN AUTO INSURANCE FIRST IN PRIORITY TO PAY THE INJURED MOTORCYCLISTS NO FAULT BENEFITS. THIS WAY, MOTORCYCLISTS LIKE MOTORISTS AND PEDESTRIANS, ARE PROVIDED A CHOICE REGARDING THEIR NO FAULT BENEFITS
If you need assistance in identifying and locating your legislator, go online to http://www.legislature.mi.gov/ Click on the legislator’s link on the left side of the page and it will bring up each legislator. You can then click on the legislator for your district and will be provided his/her contact information.
Time is of the essence. I strongly urge every member of this organization to contact their legislator on this important issue and to educate and advise your friends and family who ride to do the same. This is an issue that must be resolved and if it can be resolved before July 1, 2020 then no motorcyclist will ever be at risk of being held hostage by the no fault cap that the motorist involved in the accident chose for himself/herself.
If the situation goes unchanged, then as of July 1, 2020 when you go out for a Summer ride, your financial future and possible financial destruction is in the hands of the motorist who you may be involved in an accident with.
As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know dealing with this issue or who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide.
Further, if you would like to have me come out to your Region to speak or give a presentation on the legal rights of an injured motorcyclist or on any specific topic that your region may be curious about, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com. I give presentations to Regions state-wide and there is never a charge associated with having me out. I enjoy having the opportunity to come out and meet motorcycle enthusiasts from all parts of our State!
Dondi Vesprini firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 248 569-4646
ABATE of Michigan Inc.
P.O. Box 99
Constantine, Mi. 49042
Phone: 269 435-2058