motorcycles carrying passengersYou’re likely looking forward to a fun ride when you hop on the back of a friend or family member’s motorcycle. You probably have not given much thought as to how you’d pay your medical bills and make up your lost wages if you are seriously injured as a passenger on a motorcycle. As a motorcycle passenger, you don’t have much control over what happens on the road and you are just as unprotected from risks as a bike operator.

If you are hurt as a passenger in a motorcycle accident,* there most often is an at-fault driver whose insurance may pay for your medical bills and lost wages. However, motorcycle insurance coverage for passengers is complex. How a claim proceeds depends upon the specific facts of the case.

If you’ve been hurt as the result of a motorcycle accident, whether the crash involved only the motorcycle on which you were riding or whether the motorcycle was hit by a car, it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. When you retain a lawyer, he or she can begin dealing with insurance companies directly so you can focus on healing.

In Minnesota, motorcycles are required to carry the same minimum liability insurance coverage as cars: $30,000 per person/$60,000 per crash. Unlike cars, they don’t have to carry any other coverages, like Med Pay, wage losses or replacement services.

There are different ways in which your medical bills or wage losses can be covered if you suffer a serious injury while riding with someone. They include:

    • Auto insurance of an at-fault car or truck driver
    • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage if the at-fault vehicle is uninsured or underinsured
    • Medical Payments insurance on the motorcycle
    • Your own health insurance
    • Liability insurance coverage on the motorcycle
    • Guest Passenger insurance on the bike


If the motorcycle you are riding on is hit by a car or other vehicle and that driver is at fault for causing the accident, our motorcycle accident lawyers will obtain compensation for you from that driver’s auto insurance.

In Minnesota, it’s a pity, but it is optional to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on a motorcycle. If the insured motorcycle operator with whom you are riding has purchased this coverage and the motorist who crashes into the motorcycle you’re riding on has no insurance or not enough to cover the costs of your damages, UM/UIM coverage can be a source for compensation. Depending upon the circumstances of the crash and the insurance policies of those involved, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney may find there are one or more UM/UIM coverage sources. UM/UIM coverage pays for medical bills and lost wages when you can’t work due to your injuries and compensates you for your injuries.

A motorcycle driver can purchase Medical Payments (Med Pay) coverage. The amount of this coverage is typically rather small – from $2,000 to $25,000.  As the name suggests, Med Pay covers medical expenses such as hospital visits, surgery and X-rays, ambulance rides and more. Although you may have health insurance to cover the treatments you need, Med Pay can defray costs such as deductibles and co-payments. Med Pay covers expenses from injuries regardless of who was at fault. This means that Med Pay claims can be made whether your injuries are the result of an unintended wipe-out or even a multi-vehicle crash.

Guest Passenger liability coverage is another source of financial compensation when you are an injured motorcycle passenger and the bike operator was negligent. Guest Passenger liability coverage may be included in a motorcycle policy’s Bodily Injury liability coverage or it may be an additional coverage that the insured motorcycle driver has separately purchased. The various subsets of liability insurance exist to compensate a victim for disfigurement, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages up to policy limits.

If you are a passenger hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by the bike operator, you may wish to avoid suing a family member or friend who was driving. On the other hand, filing a claim in order to make a financial recovery from the operator’s insurance may be your only means of paying for your medical costs, lost wages, or injuries. Remember, the claim is ultimately against an insurer, even though the negligence of the cycle operator is the key for a liability claim. Most such claims can be settled without the need for a trial and our top motorcycle crash lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to reach an optimum financial recovery for you.


Family Exclusions

One important warning: If you ride as a passenger on a motorcycle insured and operated by a family member with whom you live, you may not be covered by the driver’s liability policy because some insurance policies include what are called “family exclusions” or “household exclusions.” These exclusions mean that you are not eligible to receive financial compensation for your losses if you were riding with an at-fault driver who is a family member and lives with you. All too often, this means a spouse or children, since they are most frequently the passengers on an insured motorcycle.

Any motorcyclist who is talked into buying coverage with a family exclusion needs a new insurance agent! If your family buys an umbrella insurance policy that covers all of your insurable assets, including motorcycles, make sure to tell the insurance agent that you only want an umbrella policy without family exclusions. Ask the agent to show you language in the policy stating that resident relatives are equally covered in crashes where a family member operating a motorcycle is at fault.


Recovering financial compensation for a victim who has been seriously injured while riding as a passenger on a motorcycle can be an extremely complex matter. The importance of hiring a Minnesota motorcycle accident attorney who is familiar with handling various insurance claims and who has the resources to properly handle your case cannot be stressed enough.

Suk Law Firm has successfully handled claims by motorcycle passenger injury victims. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients, and we are ready to assist you.

Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”