New Hampshire Motorcycle Insurance Coverage – Know Before You Need It!

April 7, 2015

KNOW BEFORE YOU RIDE!

New Hampshire Motorcycle insurance coverage was the issue the New Hampshire Court addressed by Order of Friday, April 3, 2015 in a case involving a New Hampshire motorcycle owner who was riding as a passenger on another person’s motorcycle in New York when it was struck by a car.

Car Insurer Paid Policy Limits

The owner of the car was insured by Allstate which offered its policy limits of $100,000.  Because this amount was not sufficient to compensate the plaintiff for her injuries, she was asserted claims through her own insurance policies specifically the Uninsured and Underinsured provisions of available policies.

Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage

The motorcycle on which the plaintiff was a passenger was insured by Foremost with coverage up to $250,000.  The plaintiff also owned, registered, and garaged a motorcycle in New Hampshire insured by Progressive under a policy that also provided UIM coverage up to $250,000 per person. The plaintiff owned other vehicles both of which were registered and garaged in New Hampshire and insured by Commerce under a policy that provided UIM coverage up to $250,000 per person (the Commerce Auto policy). The plaintiff’s home was also insured by Commerce under a policy that contained a personal umbrella endorsement that provided $1,000,000 of single limited UIM coverage (the Commerce Umbrella policy).

Primary and Excess Coverage

The parties stipulated to certain facts including that Foremost, the insurer for the motorcycle on which she was riding, was primary insurance with the other insurers being “excess” or secondary.  The Court then addressed, in turn, the application of each policy, the statute of limitations as to each policy, and the coverage available.

Statute of Limitations

The Court ruled that New Jersey law, and New Jersey’s statute of limitations, covered the policy covering the motorcycle involved in the accident.

Injured Passenger Failed to Obtain Consent to Settle

The Court determined that the injured passenger, by settling her claim with Allstate, forfeited her right to recover additional insurance through available UM provisions of her own insurance policies.  This was because the injured passenger failed to obtain the UM carriers “consent-to-settle” the claim Allstate before resolving the matter.  The Court rejected the passenger’s claim that Progressive’s silence on the issue of consent to settle was a waiver an implied waiver.  As a result, the injured passenger forfeited potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Other Insurance Provision: Available or Collectible?

The Court finally concluded that because the insured failed to collect available insurance from her UM carrier, she similarly forfeited her right to collect from an additional available source of insurance proceeds, her UM coverage through insurance on other cars that she had through Commerce.

Key Points:

Know your insurance before you need it!

If involved in an accident, consult a personal injury attorney immediately.  

SourceBartlett v. Commerce Insurance Company, Dkt. No. 2014-285 (April 3, 2015)