Washington state motorcyclists are required to carry liability coverage after lawmakers closed a legal loophole.
For more than 30 years, liability insurance has been required for Washington car and truck drivers. Surprisingly, motorcycles were exempt from the law.
This created unfair situations when uninsured motorcyclists crashed and caused property damage or injuries to others. Drivers hit by uninsured motorcyclists often had to pay out of their own pockets for crash-related expenses – even though it wasn’t their fault – unless they had a significant amount of uninsured motorist coverage on their own policy.
After a handful of failed attempts, a new law to require motorcyclists to carry liability coverage finally passed and took effect in July 2019.
This means motorcyclists now face more questions. Shopping for motorcycle insurance can be tricky compared to car insurance. Motorcycle insurance is more of a niche product, so the level of knowledge and quality of coverage can vary greatly between providers.
While a policy from one insurer may offer state-minimum liability limits and only cover your bike’s base value, another may provide the custom coverage a motorcycle enthusiast truly requires. This could be additional uninsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, plus added coverage for pricey customizations, high-tech headsets, safety equipment like helmets, gloves, leathers or Kevlar outerwear, and so much more.
No matter which policy you choose, you’ll need to carry proof of insurance in case you’re in an accident or get pulled over. You’re allowed to display proof of coverage using your smartphone in every state except New Mexico, and while Canadian provinces are moving in the same direction, British Columbia has not yet.
Speaking of liability, Washington law says you’re out of luck if the officer drops and damages your phone, so it may still be safest to stash your old-fashioned card in a saddlebag.