When you think about Louisiana, the first images that come to mind probably have something to do with their Mardi Gras celebrations, soul food, or the New Orleans Saints. These are the indelible images of the state that most people hold, and for good reason. However, if you happen to be a motorcycle enthusiast, your thoughts might conjure up pictures of the state’s scenic bike routes, like the ride out to Ivan Lake on Martin Road, or a section of Route 22 from Sorrento to Ponchatoula. Louisiana may not be the first state that comes to mind for most people when considering ideal biking locations, but anyone familiar with the state’s roads knows that there are many miles of great riding to be had.
Of course, if you want to do some riding, you need to have motorcycle insurance. Not only is it the prudent thing to do – protecting yourself financially in the event that misfortune hits during one of your rides – it’s also a legal requirement. Nobody enjoys paying money for an event that will probably (hopefully) never happen, but the reality is that accidents do happen. Some people believe it will never happen to them, and then wind up getting financially crippled, sometimes in an accident that’s no fault of their own. It’s not worth the risk. Do the smart thing – learn about what the motorcycle insurance requirements are for the state of Louisiana, and do your due diligence on all the insurance companies so you can compare their offerings and make an informed decision on which plan is right for you.
Louisiana state law requires all motorcycle owners to show proof of having the minimum insurance requirements. These minimums are:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death of a person in an accident
- $30,000 for an accident involving two or more individuals
- $25,000 for personal property damage
- These figures are often listed as 15/30/25
Please note that these are the bare minimum requirements for operating a motorcycle in the state. More comprehensive forms of coverage are available, and depending on your situation, you prefer having full coverage. For example, companies my provide options such as roadside assistance, or insurance for custom parts and equipment. Regardless of whether you end up adding options like this to your overall coverage, you are required by law to have liability insurance for the amounts shown above.
What happens if you decide to tempt fate and go riding without being properly insured? Many people have tried this, of course. Maybe they figured they were invincible, maybe they were short on money, or perhaps a little of both. Unfortunately, none of us are invincible, and the reality is that if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to ride. Needless to say, most of these people end up having to pay annoying fines at some point or another. Some of the less fortunate ones end up with horrific medical bills, leaving themselves and their families financially crippled indefinitely.
The exact penalties for riding a motorcycle without insurance may vary a bit depending on the details of the situation. Generally speaking, if you’re pulled over and unable to show proof of insurance, the standard procedure is for a member of law enforcement to confiscate your motorcycle’s license plates and seize the motorcycle itself.
What happens next depends on if you actually had insurance but didn’t have the proof available on your person, or if you simply neglected to get the necessary insurance. If the former is true, you will have to take a visit to the Office of Motor Vehicles, and bring your proof of insurance with you. If you’re in this situation, it’s very important to move quickly, because you only have three days. If three days pass from the date cited on your violation and you fail to take the aforementioned steps, you’ll have to re-register your motorcycle, and obtain new license plates.
If you’re driving without insurance, you’re going to have to pay a fine. The amount of the fine is based on the number of days you have been uninsured. For 1-30 days without insurance, you have to pay $50. For 31-90 days, that figure gets bumped up to $125. If you’ve been driving for 91 days or more without insurance, the fine is $225. Keep in mind that in the eyes of the law, having expired insurance is the same thing as having no insurance, so make sure your insurance is up to date.
What happens if your insurance provider cancels your coverage? If this happens, your Office of Motor Vehicles will usually suspend your registration. From this point, the ball is in your court, and there are a number of possibilities. One option is to provide proof that you’ve registered the vehicle in another state. Another option is to prove that you’ve traded, sold, or junked the vehicle. All of these options need to be done within 10 days of the cancellation of your insurance.
Alternately, you may turn in your motorcycle’s license plates within 10 days of your insurance’s cancellation. Your other choice, and the one you’ll likely prefer, is to find a new company that will give you the insurance coverage required by the state of Louisiana, and show proof of that on or prior to the date of your previous insurance’s cancellation date.
By now, you have an idea of Louisiana’s motorcycle insurance laws, and what the penalties are should you choose to forego obtaining them. However, you may still have doubts or questions if you own a moped or scooter. Do they count as motorcycles? Do they have the same insurance requirements?
First, let’s look at what qualifies as a motorcycle. The law says that any two-wheeled vehicle is considered a motorcycle as long as it meets any of the following criteria:
- It can travel at speeds faster than 25 miles per hour.
- Its engine capacity is larger than 50 cubic centimeters.
- It has a motor with more than 1.5 brake horsepower.
A moped is smaller, of course, but it’s still a street-legal vehicle. A moped is defined as follows:
- It does not have the ability to travel faster than 25 miles per hour.
- Its engine is no more than 50 cubic centimeters.
- Its motor has no more than 1.5 brake horsepower.
Despite the differences between how the law defines motorcycles and mopeds, both types of vehicles have the same insurance requirements. They both also necessitate the use of helmets for both drivers and passengers. But, what about scooters?
Scooters do not require any type of insurance to drive. They do not meet the legal definition of either a motorcycle or a moped. Having said that, it is against the law to drive scooters on public roads in the state of Louisiana. This makes sense for a number of reasons if you think about it. First of all, it just wouldn’t be safe having a vehicle with such little power on the same road as other cars, trucks, and motorcycles zooming by at over double the max speed of a scooter. Secondly, the insurance premiums would likely be prohibitively high due to the danger they would pose on public roads.
If you’re confused or have any questions about what insurance is best suited for your specific situation, you can call your local Department of Motor Vehicles and ask for clarification on any number of issues. While the information provided here is accurate, it is possible for there to be extenuating circumstances that affect your insurance plan. The employees at the DMV will have the most up-to-date information, and help you with any other queries you may have.
The legal issues surrounding insurance for any type of vehicle can seem dry or boring at times, making it tempting to overlook or forget it. But as this article has pointed out, that’s the worst thing you can do. Learning and understanding all of the information involved can be cumbersome, even for the patient among us. However, a little bit of time investment on educating yourself about this now is likely to pay off in the long run. You won’t make the silly mistake of skipping out on insurance, you’ll get the insurance package that’s best suited for you, and you’ll know what liabilities you have in the event of an accident. After getting an understanding of the relevant legal details, you’ll be ready to go back to more fun and interesting things, like planning your next road trip.