Should motorcyclists be required to carry insurance in Washington?
You've no doubt seen the videos posted on KING5.com on numerous occasions. It even happened earlier this month. A Washington State Patrol airplane – its "eye in the sky" – spots a motorcyclist zipping past cars at high speed, sometimes reaching over 100 mph.
You might be thinking "that's really not too smart." You may also think "I hope they have good insurance."
Well, unlike drivers of other vehicles, there is no law requiring motorcycle riders to have insurance in Washington state.
Why not? Unfortunately, the answer is not easy to find.
Brad Benefield of the Washington state Department of Licensing says the law requiring vehicle insurance (RCW 46.30.020) went into effect 21 years ago, so it's hard to find out today why lawmakers chose to give motorcycles an exemption.
But, that doesn’t mean motorcycle owners are free of liability.
"While motorcycle owners are exempt from mandatory insurance, they are not exempt from our state’s financial responsibility laws that make all drivers and riders liable for damage they cause on our highways," says Benefield.
The law also doesn't mean that all motorcycle owners don't carry insurance. Benefield says that if a motorcycle is purchased on credit, the lender will require the owner to buy insurance.
In addition, Washington is alone in the Pacific Northwest when it comes to giving motorcycle owners a pass on insurance.
"Most other states and provinces require insurance, including Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. This means if a rider wants to ride outside Washington, they need insurance," said Benefield.
Benefield says that based on those reasons, the DOL believes most motorcycle owners in our state choose to carry insurance voluntarily.
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