Ask Our Lawyer – October 2021

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services


Crossin’ the highway late last night

He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right

He didn’t see the station wagon car

The skunk got squashed and there you are

You got your

Dead skunk in the middle of the road

Stinkin’ to high heaven

From Dead Skunk in the middle of the Road by Loudon Wainwright III

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, sounds like me when I preach about crash avoidance and getting enough uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  The latter is so inexpensive that it is not in the concern category.  The rule is to get as much as they offer.  Shame on you if you don’t.  It is the cheapest coverage you will ever buy.  And when you discover that most drivers in this country are either uninsured or have the minimum (usually never enough), you need to run – not walk to your agent and buy it.    So there you are:  you got your dead skunk in the middle of the road stinkin’ to high heaven – IF YOU DON’T.


Hello, Rod. This is Erick, the county Rep for Spencer/Perry Counties, attached are my dec sheets for my motorcycle insurance that you asked for. If you have any questions feel free to call me.  My independent agent was not able to find any better coverage than I already have even with bundling home & auto. Have a good one & Enjoy The Ride when out & about. Erick.

Moral of the story: Be. Like. Erick. Pull out your insurance dec sheets, review, and if possible, increase your coverage.


Q. My husband and I have wonderful grandchildren which we are raising because our daughter is not blessed with good mothering skills at this stage in her life. Now that my husband has cancer, we are concerned for our grandchildren’s future. What can we do as we have little saved for them? ABATE MEMBERS.

A. I have received this question many times from concerned grandparents. Usually, a life threatening disease causes them to question “what will happen to our grandkids if we are not around to raise them?” Many grandparents have only Social Security for themselves and certainly have not been in a position to save significant assets for the benefit of their grandchildren.  Some may be fortunate to have life insurance.  As we all know, Social Security goes to the benefit of the worker, the worker’s spouse, and their unemancipated children.

The big question becomes what do you do to help safeguard the future lives of grandchildren when the only asset of the grandparents is a home, meager savings, and the Social Security benefits they have earned and are receiving. It was then that it came to me when I thought of that old country song “I’m My Own Grandpa.” What if the grandparents adopted their own grandkids? Would those grandchildren get Social Security benefits if something happened to the grandparents? The answer to that question is yes, if the grandparents legally adopt their own grandchildren. That solution works and ensures that the grandchildren will have a good and decent life through their college years. One possible hitch – consent of the parents is usually required.


There was a time when politicians, congressmen, and the like were mostly civil to each other. A theory: Dueling was the cause. If you run the possibility of getting shot for your foul mouth and ill ways, it may just make you a little nicer.  Bring it back for Washington, D.C.?  Who knows? It might even work with lawyers.

In one famous duel, James Shields challenged Abe Lincoln.  As the challenged, Abe had the right to choose weapons. Since Shields was diminutive with short limbs, lanky Lincoln chose “long swords.” Apparently, Lincoln’s reach was such that the duel would have been ridiculous, with Lincoln pretty much running Shields through before Shields could get in range. The story goes that the unfairness of the duel was so comical Shields and Lincoln patched things up and remained friends for life. Interestingly, Shields served as a U.S. Senator in 3 different states, which is still a record.  And he did not do any more dueling.


 Q.     My buddy wants to borrow my bike for a ride to Florida. He lost his license a couple of years ago and says he just got it back. Although he’s been riding for years, he’s never gotten his motorcycle endorsement and has had several accidents. He told me his insurance would cover the bike, but I’m kind of nervous about letting him on my bike.

A.     And you should be.  As we all know, most riders are extremely safety conscious, taking care to make sure that their bikes are in tip-top shape and that their skills remain sharp and focused. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t take those responsibilities seriously. While we are generally not our brother’s keeper, if we allow someone who shouldn’t be riding on our bike, his problem may become our problem.

Generally, a vehicle owner is not responsible for the actions of a person who is operating the vehicle, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be your insurance that ends up covering the damage. You would have to review your policy and his policy to see what coverage applies if he’s in an accident where he is at fault. And it may be different depending on whether it is personal injury or property damage. 

Beware that most states recognize negligent entrustment, which happens when an owner allows someone to operate the owner’s vehicle when that person is not qualified to do so. Allowing your buddy to take your bike may make you responsible for any accident he causes if it turns out that he was unqualified and that we should have known that he was unqualified. 


Mr. Taylor, I always read your column first thing when I receive my monthly ABATE Newsletter.  You do an excellent job of relating the law to the layman.

I feel you left out an important point in the May column.  In your “Crazy is as Crazy Does” article, you failed to point out that, in most states, insurance follows the vehicle — not the driver.  So when the buddy says his insurance would cover the bike, that is not true.  You must have an insurable interest in something in order to insure it.  I do not see where the buddy borrowing the bike has any insurable interest in the borrowed bike.  You cannot insure something you do not own.  So, in this case, the lender of the bike’s insurance would be responsible for any damage caused by the borrower.  If the borrower is responsible for an at fault claim, then the lender of the bike’s premium will likely be surcharged, even though he did nothing wrong, other than loan his bike to the wrong person.

I am licensed and sell insurance in Illinois and Indiana.  I have a young man insured who borrowed a motorcycle from a friend.  While riding, he was pulled over.  That was when my customer discovered the motorcycle was uninsured.  He was ticketed for driving without insurance, his license was suspended and he had to file for an SR-22 in order to get his license back.  For the next 3 years his insurance was much more expensive, all because he borrowed a friend’s motorcycle. 

Just thought this was an important point that needs to be made.  I felt your response might lead the uninformed to believe their insurance MIGHT transfer to a borrowed vehicle, but in almost every case, it will not.  Respectfully, Dan Schonert ABATE Member – Mount Carmel, Illinois

Dan.  Thank you for your comments.  I will publish your letter in the next issue as it addresses some very good points. We can learn from your expertise.  Ride safe. Rod


There are some very important differences between your auto insurance coverage and your motorcycle insurance coverage.  Here are at least two.

1.         Let’s say you want to test ride and buy a motorcycle that your neighbor has for sale and that neighbor has no motorcycle insurance on the test ride motorcycle.  You remember your agent telling you that you have automatic insurance coverage for a newly acquired vehicle and you believe that would apply to a “newly acquired” motorcycle.  Unless you have a current motorcycle policy in force, you are uninsured if you test ride that motorcycle — even though you have auto insurance coverage.  But no problem if you were test driving and buying an auto.  The problem only surfaces with motorcycles.  I say not fair.

2.         While on a test ride of your neighbor’s motorcycle, you bring a friend.  You are in the show off mode, lose control, and injure your passenger.  She asks if you have medical coverage.  Do you have coverage?  Usually, but only under your motorcycle policy if you have one and only if you have elected passenger coverage.  Notice that the extra step of electing passenger coverage is not required in auto policies.  That same coverage for auto passengers is automatic.  How is that fair?  

A real motorcyclist’s insurance company would eliminate the discriminatory provisions discussed here, which adversely impact motorcyclists only.  Those companies should conform their motorcycle policies to what they provide in their automobile policies.  The first insurance company to take that measure will have my vote.  That change is simple, costing very little and providing needed protection to the 18 year old etc. who doesn’t spend his off hours checking the fine print.  Step to the plate insurance companies.  Be the “ Good Neighbor” and mean it when you claim “You are in good hands”.


Ride Safe.

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: © 2021.

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