Put that helmet back on, at least for now

Over the weekend a few motorcycle enthusiasts I know were so eager to take advantage of Michigan’s new “helmet choice” law that they forgot to do one little thing: comply with it.

Senate Bill 291, now Public Act 98 of 2012, lets motorcyclists choose whether to wear a helmet if they have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, and carry extra insurance. Motorcycle passengers who want to exercise this option also must be 21 or older and carry an additional $20,000 in insurance. It went into effect immediately Friday.

That additional insurance is no-fault person injury coverage also known as PIP coverage. And almost no motorcyclist on the road currently buys it, even though it was available even before the new law, because it’s so expensive, according to Farmington Hills personal injury attorney Steven Gursten.

“I’ve been working with motorcycle accident cases for 20 years and I can count on my fingers the number of clients who actually had motorcycle PIP coverage,” he said.

He added that because the law was only signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday morning, it would have been virtually impossible for anyone who didn’t already have motorcycle PIP coverage to have purchased it before going for a wind-in-their-hair ride.

Not that the $20,000 in coverage would get an injured person very far.

“You can sneeze in an emergency room and use up $20,000 worth of coverage,” Gursten said.

But they’ve got to have it anyway if they plan on riding without a helmet. And they might not even know that they are not in compliance with the law.

“Every insurance agent who has customers with motorcycles needs to call their customers immediately,” Gursten said.

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