I don't care whether there are helmet laws or not until it impacts me. But it does impact every one of us in our insurance rates. Insurance rates are based in a large part on loss costs. Increased head injuries and larger damage awards due to motorcycle accidents impacts your motorcycle and auto rates. Even if the accidents are not the fault of the motorcycle rider, the rates of auto insurance companies paying damages and the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage rise.
My insurance rates in Virginia are cheap and I think it is in part because of our helmet laws. I have full coverage with high limits on my 86 AND 03 motorcycles for $200 per year. I also have full coverage on my 08 car, 04 Pick-up, 01 SUV and 04 travel trailer for $720 per year. I do live in a low risk area, good credit, no tickets or claims of any kind.
'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.
I have two friends, one whom I rode with and one whom I fished with in Eagle River, both of which are/were insurance underwriters...you know, the 'hatchet men' who examine your life, assign you a 'risk rating,' and set your rates.
Both agree that mandatory helmet laws as well as voluntary compliance factor into the rates they establish for various customers.
I have insurance policies that 'go down' all the time, based on my vehicles aging, my lack of citations, accident-free years, number of claims, etc. So it IS possible. Probable would be a whole 'nother discussion, I fear.
I have Home and Life Insurance that reflects reduced rates based on their trust that I answered the "No, I am not a smoker" question honestly.
I also enjoy a reduced rate on my Motorcycle Insurance, based on trust that I answered the "Do you wear a helmet?" and "Do you engage in racing?" questions honestly as well. I also get feedback from students of my MSF BRC classes, that some insurance companies have granted them a reduced rate (oblivious as to whether or not they were a good student!).
I hold no great love for insurance companies......a necessary evil, preying on the masses in a litigation-happy culture. But I also believe we suffer higher rates as motorcyclists due to our own paranoid rationalization that wearing helmets is not a safety issue so much as some sort of 'freedom.'
After three decades of law enforcement and EMS experience, I've seen enough carnage involving poorly trained or improperly outfitted bikers to last a lifetime.
Ride Aware and ATGATT.
Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
Motorcycle/Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track
As a paramedic who does lots of 911 work I won't ride without my bucket on. I have been the guy that uses the dew rag to put the brain back into so it can be buried with the body