We have great news. As a result of a very productive meeting with us last year, NY State Senator Andrew Lanza has sponsored legislation to remove the motorcyclist exclusion from No Fault insurance benefits in NY State. This will benefit us if passed.
Senator Lanza introduced bill S6359 through the Insurance Committee last week, and Assembly member Felix Ortiz has agreed to be the prime sponsor in the NY State Assembly. I'll update as soon as I find out the number of the Assembly bill.
Insurance issues can be complex, and the No Fault exclusion is so strange that most riders simply don't understand it until it bites us in the butt after an accident. No Fault benefits protect pedestrians, bicycle riders, motorists, and every other road user in New York State. Except for motorcyclists. This discriminatory exclusion has been in effect since New York opted for a No Fault system nearly 40 years ago.
Motorcycle riders are licensed road users, our vehicles are registered and inspected just like every other road user, and we're required to purchase No Fault insurance just like every other road user in New York State. Our exclusion from No Fault benefits means that when we're in an accident, even when the accident is deemed 100% the fault of the car driver who hit us, we're forced to sue in court. Our medical bills might pile up, but the case must go through expensive and time consuming litigation before we ever see a penny of compensation. That's a particularly difficult hardship for riders without private health insurance. Worse yet, lawyer's fees and court costs are subtracted from any future settlement we might win. Other road users are not required to incur these expenses.
We're also ineligible for one of the most important No Fault benefits- we're denied immediate compensation for lost wages. As everyone can imagine, this can create an extreme financial hardship for injured riders who may also be struggling to pay mounting medical bills after an accident. On a personal note, I was out of work for five months after I was hit from behind while riding my motorcycle last April. Had I been a pedestrian or bicycle rider with the same injuries, I would have been eligible to receive up to $2,000 a month in compensation for my lost wages. Because I was riding a motorcycle, I received nothing.
S6359 is important legislation that will repeal the discriminatory motorcyclist exclusion from NY State No Fault insurance. Now it's our turn. Call or write your Senator to ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor to S6359. Tell your Senator that you support the repeal of the motorcyclist exclusion from No Fault. It's easy to find out how to contact your Senator. Simply go to the below page and fill in your information in the 'Find my Senator' box on the upper left of the page: http://www.nysenate.gov/
You will be taken to the 'contact' page for your Senator. You can send an e-mail or make a phone call.
Your calls and letters will be particularly meaningful if your Senator sits on the Insurance Committee, but don't let it deter you if she or he does not. All contacts are important.
Insurance issues tend to be complex, and not particularly interesting. It's easy to turn off whenever the subject comes up. Our exclusion from No Fault benefits has probably stood unchallenged all these years at least in part because we haven't been paying enough attention to advocate for ourselves. If this is confusing, please do ask and we'll do our best to clarify the issue.