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Motorcyclists should carry sufficient insurance for passengers

Many motorcyclists enjoy riding with a passenger. Couples frequently ride together. Single riders are also well aware that motorcycles can be "chick magnets," especially in the warm spring and summer months.

However, taking on passengers is both a serious responsibility and a liability that should never be taken lightly. The motorcycle owner must make sure that there is adequate insurance coverage so in the event of an at-fault accident, the coverage is sufficient for any injuries suffered by the passenger.

Motorcyclists must also must have the essential riding skills necessary for adding a passenger on the backs of their bikes. Both the weight and the motion of another person on a motorcycle affect the control of the bike. Before setting out on the highway with an inexperienced passenger, make a couple of loops at low speed around a parking lot to teach them the proper way to hold on and lean into curves.

Riders and passengers also must wear safety gear. Don't simply stop at helmet usage. Make sure that the clothing you both wear is sturdy and/or padded to protect the body from painful road rash.

Brightly colored clothing with reflective patches or stripes is ideal, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, although some riders prefer leather gear for its protective qualities. Remember that rain and darkness make motorcycles less visible, so be extra cautious riding at those times.

Passengers also should be aware, however, that there are certain risks associated with hopping onto the back of a bike. Realize that being a motorcycle passenger is much more hazardous than riding in a four-wheeled vehicle. It's a good idea for a passenger to ask the motorcycle owner if he or she has guest passenger liability insurance coverage to cover medical expenses due to injuries.

In most circumstances, guest passenger liability will not take effect if the wreck was caused by another driver. However, coverage for medical bills is applicable no matter whose fault it is.

If you are injured while riding on the back of someone's motorcycle, realize that you may need to pursue civil claims against the rider or another driver in order to receive compensation.

Source: Allstate, "Bikers: If Your Passenger Is Injured, Are You Covered?," accessed April 15, 2016

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