New York Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcyclists, like their car-maneuvering counterparts, need insurance too. In New York State, however, insurance is a little different for motorcyclists.

New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that in most cases certain basic economic losses will be paid by the insurance company regardless of fault. When a motorcycle driver or rider is injured in a motor vehicle accident things are a little different.

Article 51 of the Insurance Law explains the manner in which our no-fault automobile insurance regime functions. Section 5104(a) states that “in any action by or on behalf of a covered person against another covered person for personal injuries arising out of negligence in the use or operation of a motor vehicle in this state, there shall be no right of recovery for non-economic loss, except in the case of a serious injury, or for basic economic loss.”

Legalese aside, this provision basically says that certain New York motorists will receive “basic economic loss” in exchange for a limited right to sue the at-fault motorist. The compromise is that, in exchange for this “basic economic loss,” those New York motorist must show a “serious injury” to recover for pain and suffering.

Serious Injury

“Serious injury” is defined to mean a personal injury which results in either:

Death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

In other words, certain New York motorists cannot make a claim for pain and suffering unless their injuries qualify under one of the above categories.

Meanwhile, Section 5102(f) says that the term “motor vehicle” “shall not include . . . a motorcycle.”

Plainly, motorcyclists are exempted from the no-fault insurance regime. This has pros and cons.


One advantage is that injured motorcyclists do not need to establish a serious injury to recover for pain and suffering. An injured motorcyclist can make a claim for pain and suffering from the first dollar lost.


One of the downsides is that injured motorcyclists are not entitled to basic economic loss, which is effectively $50,000 for lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs. Unlike their car-operating brethren, motorcyclists do not have this automatic benefit, and must turn to other insurance sources to cover lost wages and medical expenses.

For example, an injured motorcyclist may have to turn to long-term disability insurance or medical insurance to cover lost wages and medical expenses. When this happens, the insurance company may gain what is called a “lien” on the amount paid. If you bring a claim against the at-fault motorist and obtain a recovery, your attorney may need to address the resulting “lien.”

Contact a William Mattar Motorcycle Accident Attorney

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Put simply, when a motorcyclist is hurt in a motor vehicle accident, insurance works a little differently. A motorcycle accident attorney can explain these differences to you, and recommend the best course of action.  If you have questions after your motorcycle accident, please do not hesitate to contact the motorcycle accident lawyers at William Mattar Law Offices. Call (844) 444-4444. We are here to help.

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