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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Do I Need to Declare Accident on Motorcycle Insurance?

Lending a car to a friend in need can be a very kind thing for car owners to do. However, it also comes with some major downsides, especially if the friend ends up getting in an accident. Lending a motorcycle is even riskier since motorcycles are more dangerous than other vehicles and far more likely to end up in vehicle accidents.

Even if the owner wasn’t the one riding the motorcycle when the accident occurred, they’re still the owner of said vehicle. Therefore, the court and the other party involved can claim permissive use to hold them responsible for any damages sustained.

So, motorcycle owners looking to lend their vehicle to a friend must first understand all the risks that come with this decision. Things like permissive use and who is liable in case of an accident should help owners determine if they need to declare an accident on motorcycle insurance and protect their own interests.

How Does Permissive Use Work

How Does Permissive Use Work

When it comes to determining who is at fault in accidents, the answer is usually whichever party caused the crash. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to crashes where the vehicle driver isn’t the owner of the vehicle.

Most types of insurance cover the vehicle itself, not the driver. Therefore, in the event of an accident, the vehicle owner is the one who will be legally liable for any damages. The reason this happens is ‘permissive use.’

For example, if a motorcycle owner willingly lends their vehicle to a friend, then that friend has permission to ride that vehicle. So, if they get into any kind of accident, the owner's insurance will be the primary source of coverage. If the damages incurred exceed the policy limits, then the friend’s insurance will kick in to cover the rest.

However, if the motorcycle was stolen, and the thief got into an accident, then this is a case of non-permissive use. Therefore, the other party can't hold the owner liable for the crash.

In case the thief was insured, then the thief's insurance will have to cover the damages. If they don’t have insurance, then the owner will have to file a claim against the thief to seek compensation.

Types of Permissive Liability

Permissive use makes the motorcycle owner legally liable for any accidents their friend might get into while riding the owner’s vehicle. However, the extent of the owner’s liability will depend on one very important factor—why they lent the vehicle to their friend.

Depending on the type of permission the owner gave to the friend, we distinguish between three types of permissive liability:

1. Permissive Liability When the Driver Is Acting for His Own Benefit

If the motorcycle owner lent their friend the vehicle so the friend could run an errand, then the driver of the vehicle was acting for his own benefit when they got into an accident. Therefore, the motorcycle owner is only partly responsible for the accident.

2. Permissive Liability When the Driver Is Acting for the Owner’s Benefit

In case the accident happened when the friend was running an errand for the owner, then the owner will face unlimited liability for the friend’s reckless driving.

3. Permissive Liability When the Accident Is Due in Part by the Owner’s Independent Negligence

Owners can face unlimited liability if they lend their vehicle to an unlicensed friend. This also applies in cases where the owners didn’t know the friend was unlicensed. What’s more, it also extends to cases where they lent their vehicle knowing it had some kind of defect that made riding it dangerous.

Do I Need to Declare an Accident on Motorcycle Insurance?

If they weren’t the ones riding the vehicle when the accident occurred, motorcycle owners may wonder if they need to declare the accident to their insurance. The answer is yes. Most insurance companies have clauses in their contracts that require owners to declare all traffic accidents. The clause applies no matter who was riding the motorcycle when the crash happened.

But beyond a legal obligation, declaring an accident could be extremely beneficial for motorcycle owners. Depending on why they lent the vehicle to their friend, declaring a crash right away could help owners get a fair settlement. It would really help get full coverage on a motorcycle.

Final Thoughts

Lending a motorcycle to a friend can be a risky thing. If the friend ends up in an accident, then the owner can be held legally responsible for the crash. A motorcycle owner must ensure that their friend knows the safety rules, such as understanding the amount of force a helmet can take and why it is important to be worn.

In case an accident has occurred, motorcycle owners should immediately contact the best motorcycle accident lawyers in Des Moines. With the help of Tom Fowler Law’s team of dedicated professionals, owners will be able to understand why they need to declare an accident on motorcycle insurance. What’s more, they’ll be able to secure the best possible settlement, especially if their friend was not at fault for the accident.


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