Pillion's Progress

Remember, you’re responsible for their safety! If your pillion is injured, then do the right thing.

On the 27th of June 2020, Ann was riding pillion on her partner’s Suzuki GSX 1300R motorcycle. The two were on their way home from a funeral heading west in East Kilbride. The heavens had opened up and Ann noticed a stationary vehicle waiting to turn right up ahead. She wondered why her partner wasn’t slowing his bike, but before she had time to say anything, the motorcycle hit the back of the stationary vehicle.

Ann was thrown from the motorcycle and landed heavily, unfortunately fracturing her pelvis. Whether it was the rain, thoughts of the funeral or something else on the road, the rider’s inadvertence caused serious injury to his pillion.

Mistakes happen and that’s why we have insurance. Whilst riding our motorcycles or driving our cars, we owe a duty of care to others, especially pillions or passengers. On a rare occasion when a pillion has been injured and the fault rests with the rider, it’s so important to understand that the insurer of the motorcycle will not dispute any claim for injury and loss, as the pillion is an innocent victim. The pillion will receive full compensation, but importantly, will also be entitled to full rehabilitation to assist recovery. The earlier the claim is made, the faster we can get to work with rehabilitation. That’s important, as currently access to treatment on the NHS is difficult, to say the least.

Yet, for many it can lead to a rather difficult conversation with questions of “You’re not going to sue me, are you?” But, just stop and think about that. No one is suing the rider, as the rider has insurance, so it’s the insurer that will be paying out. Year on year, we pay our premiums and year on year most of us don’t make a claim. Insurance companies make money by balancing premium income in against claims paid out. You can be sure they pay out considerably less than they bring in and do make healthy profits. Insurance companies make much of the compensation culture as they call it, but that’s the very reason we have insurance. We are protected if we cause an accident and others are injured, as our insurer is legally obliged to pay third party claims for compensation.

Every now and then we hear the argument “but won’t a claim put my premium up?” The answer to that question is, ‘yes, it probably will, but not as much as you think.’ Insurance companies typically look at risk and may consider that if you’ve been involved in one accident, regardless of fault, you are more likely to be involved in another. This will increase premium. Would you deny a friend, partner, family member private rehabilitation to assist recovery and compensation for loss and injury due to concern about a premium increase in the short term? Of course not. Conversely, pillions shouldn’t concern as they are not suing a rider personally. The insurer steps in and pays out. We have insurance for exactly this reason and it benefits nobody to take matters personally; accidents happen.

Should the worst happen and your pillion is injured, then the least you can do is make it up to them and ensure they claim on your insurance as you’ve paid for that. It’s strange as we seem more at ease claiming on insurance when our motorcycles break, yet when people break that leads to awkward conversations. If my pillion is injured and it’s my fault, I would be the first to say, ‘it’s OK, I’m fully insured, so let’s get you looked after. Always remember, never let your insurer appoint a panel solicitor and the starting point is to ensure your pillion seeks independent legal advice. That’s why we are here

As for Ann, she was compensated in full as the rider held up his hands. It was an error, he was insured and so the insurer paid out, not swiftly unfortunately, as the rider was insured with MCE, but that’s another story!


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