Helmets improve rider safety and have an indirect impact on motorcycle insurance rates. Choosing to wear a helmet will not reduce a bike owner’s rates, but it can mitigate the cost of future premiums by preventing injuries.
Riders shopping for a motorcycle insurance policy online, or over the phone with a representative, will notice something related to helmet use: There are no questions about it. Whether or not a rider chooses to wear a helmet is their decision. Even in states that require all riders by law to wear one, insurers cannot police which policyholders are protecting themselves with a helmet.
However, motorcycle insurance companies do consider the broad severity, frequency and total losses related to certain claims, and states with helmet laws - and more wearers - have relatively lower rates.
In 2012, Michigan overturned its a universal helmet law and from that point on, only required riders age 20 and younger to wear one. After the law was changed, medical payments claim severity for motorcyclists in Michigan increased 22%, according to a 2013 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). The changed also contributed to a 50% increase in overall medical payments claim costs in the state.
Claim severity and cost in surrounding states used as controls (and whose helmet laws were unchanged) was relatively constant. The loosened motorcycle helmet rules had contributed to increased costs in Michigan and increased costs to insurance companies are typically passed down to consumers in the form of rates increases.
The increased rates related to medical costs probably don’t impact rider’s enough that they would choose to move from one state to another. But riders should still wear a helmet to protect themselves and to prevent the cost of their own policy going up in the future.
How A Motorcycle Helmet Can Prevent Rate Increases
From the onset of motorcycle riding, wearing a helmet is a good practice but it won’t affect your coverage or insurance rates. That doesn’t mean it can’t affect them in the future, though.
Wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of a motorcycle insurance claim related to medical treatment, or even prevent one from being necessary.
Anytime a rider files a motorcycle insurance claim, there is chance their insurance company will raise the cost of the rider’s premiums. Among many factors, the frequency and severity of claims is taken into consideration and a helmet can impact these in a positive way by protecting the rider.
The same HLDI study of Michigan also showed helmet use reduced the likelihood of crash fatality by 37% and riders involved in a crash without a helmet were 3x more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commision (NHTSC).