At one of the many motorcyclist seminars at which I have participated, one of the attendees remarked that she couldn’t get lost wages because her employer does not offer such insurance as a benefit.
The hard fact that I first told the woman who posed the question about the disability insurance question is that motorcycling involves risk, risk that we all should know about and appreciate. There is a well known axiom among experienced bikers; there are only two kinds of motorcyclists: Those who have gone down and those who will go down. And the chances of injury are enormously higher than if we were in a car.
A wise former Michigan Supreme Court justice, John Voelker, writing as Robert Traver, wrote several celebrated novels including Anatomy of a Murder, which was made into a famous movie starring James Stewart, Lee Remick, and Ben Gazzara in the 50’s. His books usually involved a hero who was a young attorney, a heroine who was beset by unjust laws, and an older lawyer, usually a drunk, who went on the wagon for purposes of helping the young guy with the case. At the end of the book, when the case is won, the bad guys have paid up, and the young lawyer and heroine fall in love, the old lawyer goes off the wagon. In the book the heroine complained to the young lawyer about how bad it was that the old guy went off the wagon again. The hero’s response was something like, “I don’t know but that everyone has a right to be a fool in their own way!”
Think about that for a second: Everyone has a right to be a fool in their own way! That is the credo of the libertarian, the credo of anyone who believes that they have the right to live their life as they wish. That is something that all freedom fighters from Jefferson and Franklin to Martin Luther King and everyone in between has pursued.
But that freedom comes at a price, i.e., with one major caveat: We have a right to live our lives as we wish as long as we don’t hurt or burden other people while doing it.
This concept is lost on many motorcyclists who decry the fact that they have to maintain insurance on the bikes, that they can have pipes as loud as they want, or can willy-nilly go out on the road wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals.
The fact of the matter is that motorcyclists will always be the scapegoats for politicians who don’t like that freedom, especially if it costs the public money.
Freedom costs money. At least 40% of all motorcycle accidents are single vehicle accidents, whether it involves running wide on a freeway ramp and going down, hitting a deer, blowing a tire, going down from a front end wobble, or cycle-cycle accidents. You get the picture. With no-fault laws benefiting the bikers, such accidents do not implicate the no-fault law. If you do not have health insurance or disability insurance you are in for a very rough ride, and at the taxpayers’ expense. Politicians don’t like that. And if you are the freedom lover that you think you are, the independent soul that you think you are, you shouldn’t like it either.
And don’t think that you are infallible as a rider. While motor vehicle drivers are more often at fault in a car-cycle accident than the rider, every one of you I am sure can remember a time that you were not as attentive as you could have been. Maybe you were plain lucky that you didn’t cause an accident. And maybe you did cause one. Bikers can cause injuries from their own negligence just like car drivers. And they should share in the responsibility of protecting those who they injure by carrying sufficient insurance to cover their own behind and misdeeds.
As I told the lady who asked the question at the beginning of the session, it costs money to be free and to stay free. If you can’t afford not only the motorcycle, but the cost of a decent health insurance policy, the cost of a decent disability policy, the cost of decent liability coverage and property damage, along with the cost of the motorcycle, you should not be out on the street riding a motorcycle. It is a hard statement. But it is a fact. And true libertarians, true lovers of freedom, should be prepared for that fact and quit bemoaning the truly minimal costs of same. Freedom does not involve a free ride.