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Detroit, Michigan

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Motorcyclists' medical insurance claims hike 36% after helmet repeal

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Study says severe injury claims for Michigan motorcycle riders skyrocketed, and the severity of motorcycle injuries has increased

When Gov. Rick Snyder signed the repeal of Michigan's motorcycle helmet requirement in April 2012, it was my prediction on the front page of the Detroit Free Press the next day that more people would be killed, more people would be seriously injured, and the cost to taxpayers would increase as a result.

Under the current Michigan motorcycle helmet law, motorcyclists over age 21 are allowed to ride without a helmet.

One year later, my prediction has sadly already proven true. More people are dying and now there is evidence that more people are being seriously injured, and the medical costs for treating these injured motorcyclists is also dramatically increasing.

A recent study finds a 36% spike in medical insurance claims for injured motorcyclists.

According to a study of motorcycle crashes in Michigan by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is part of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there has been a 36 percent increase in insurance claims involving serious motorcycle injuries. This is according to a news release by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

The study also zeroed in on un-helmeted motorcycle operators, who must buy an additional $20,000 insurance under the Michigan law.

For motorcyclists without helmets, their claims involving serious injuries increased by 22%,

Here's how the HLDI investigated how the helmet repeal affected injuries: Analysts compared medical payment (MedPay) losses from the 2010-11 motorcycle riding seasons with 2012. MedPay coverage insures against motorcycle operators' injuries. Only data from May through September was included in the study.

Said David Zuby, chief research officer of HLDI: "Weakening the helmet law seems to have made it somewhat more likely that riders will sustain injuries, but the big impact has been on the seriousness of the injuries." Furthermore, HLDI Vice President Matt Moore said that after the motorcycle helmet repeal, motorcyclists are sustaining more injuries per crash, or more serious injuries.

The HLDI says the results of its study are consistent with previous studies that show that scrapping motorcycle helmet laws in other states resulted in more fatalities, injuries and hospital admissions.

Beyond these serious motorcycle injury claims, more motorcyclists are dying since the helmet repeal. I recently wrote about statistics pointing to an 18% increase in 2012 motorcycle accident fatalities.

This is unfortunate news, as these are all preventable motorcycle fatalities and injuries, and it's our own lawmakers and Governor that are allowing these tragedies to continue.

I recently questioned whether Gov. Snyder hates motorcyclists.

After he signed the helmet law repeal, Gov. Snyder further attacked motorcyclists in a piece of dangerous No Fault "reform" legislation, HB 4612. Under HB 4612, Snyder aims to cap the currently unlimited No Fault insurance medical benefits for auto accident injuries at $1 million. Yet the bill slashes such coverage for injured motorcyclists in crashes with cars to a lowly $250,000.

Considering that motorcycle accident injuries are more catastrophic, and commonly involve brain injury and spinal cord injuries that last for life , that $250,000 in No Fault insurance for motorcycle operators in Michigan wouldn't even cover the first week in the hospital after a catastrophic crash.

It's just cruel.

How many more motorcyclists have to die or become seriously injured for our Legislature and Gov. Snyder to reconsider the repeal of the Michigan motorcycle helmet law?

2 Comments

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  1. Fred says:
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    They did not repeal the helmet law in Michigan , they modified it to allow those who meet certain conditions to decide their own level of protection .

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    I think that wearing a helmet should be law for motorcyclists. You never know when an accident might happen and that extra layer of protection could save your life.