Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accidents and Insurance Coverage

Insurance companies are well known for writing and trying to enforce policy provisions that are more beneficial to the company than to the insured. A recent example from Pennsylvania concerns insurance coverage in motorcycle accident cases.

In Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company v. Hymes, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a motorcyclist who was injured after being thrown from his bike could not use the underinsured motorist coverage in his parents’ insurance – even though he lived in their residence.

The court reasoned that even though the injuries occurred off of the motorcycle, they directly resulted from the motorcyclist’s operation of the vehicle. The injuries were therefore subject to the “household exclusion” language of the parents’ policy.

This exclusion stated that underinsured coverage was to be denied to “anyone while in, or, getting into or out of or when struck by a motor vehicle owned or leased by you or a resident relative who is not insured for underinsured motorist coverage under this policy.”

The case in question began in April 2009. A motorcyclist was riding his Harley Davidson when collided with a Chevrolet Malibu car. The driver of the car was eventually determined to be at fault for the accident.

The impact threw the motorcycle rider from his motorcycle onto the windshield of the Malibu. By the time he hit the ground, he was 20 feet away from where he was hit.

The driver of the Malibu did not have enough insurance to provide full compensation to the motorcyclists for his injuries. The motorcyclist didn’t have underinsured coverage through his own insurer, GEICO. But he had sought to recover under his parents’ policy with Allstate.

Source: “Pennsylvania Court Upholds Motorcyclist ‘On,’ ‘Off’ Exclusion,” Insurance Journal, 9-16-11