Mandatory Helmet Law Repealed - More Information!

First, a little bit about Michigan Bikers Association. We handle MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS ONLY. Attorney Jerry Aaron is a lawyer who rides, and he has been successfully handling motorcycle accident cases in Michigan for over 30 years. For more information, you can contact us or read more about what we do.

I am sure that all of you must know by now, that Michigan's Mandatory Helmet Law was repealed, effective April 13, 2012. Now the question is what does that mean to you as a motorcycle rider? The Bill states as follows:

"A motorcycle operator is not required to wear a helmet if ALL of the following conditions apply:

  • The operator is at least 21 years of age
  • The operator has had his or her motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, or has successfully passed a motorcycle safety course
  • The operator has in effect, an insurance policy for the first-party medical benefits payable if he or she is involved in a motorcycle crash for at least $20,000 for the operator

If you are a passenger on a motorcycle, you are not required to wear a helmet if ALL the following conditions apply:

  • The passenger is at least 21 years of age
  • The passenger has, in effect, at least $20,000 security for the first-party medical benefits payable, if he or she is involved in a motorcycle accident, OR the operator of the motorcycle has in effect, an insurance policy that covers the operator AND the passenger for at least $20,000 per person

I was able to obtain this FAQ information directly from Progressive Insurance:

Q. What coverage does Progressive offer to satisfy the helmet law?

A. Motorcycle Medical Benefits coverage, selected at $20,000 limits or more, will satisfy the motorcycle medical coverage requirement stated in this law.

  • Coverage limit applies on a per person basis
  • Coverage extends to the named insured and resident spouse and relatives
  • Coverage does not extend to non-resident relatives, or non-relative riders

Q. What coverage is available to operators or guest passengers, other than the named insured, resident spouse, and resident relatives?

A. Motorcycle Medical Benefits Coverage does not cover anyone, other than the named insured, resident spouse, and resident relatives. Bodily Injury liability coverage might apply for insured's legal liability to other operators or guest passengers; however, Bodily Injury liability coverage does not satisfy the helmet law insurance requirements.

A short explanation of this "insurance speak" is that you can buy the coverage for yourself, your spouse, or a relative that lives in your home. As for an unrelated passenger, they seem to offer no coverage. The other companies I have checked with are in the same boat. I think what has happened here is that the insurance companies have been caught "flat-footed" by the Governor signing this Bill. They simply do not have all of the coverage that is necessary. So, as of now, any non-related passenger who does not wear a helmet cannot purchase the coverage that the Bill requires. I am sure that this will change, but as of now, it has not.

Q. Does health insurance satisfy the insurance requirements ofthe new law?

A. No.

Q. How will the operator prove to a police officer that he or she has the required coverage on the policy?

A. We will not be making changes to our proofs of insurance to indicate the person is eligible to ride without a helmet. According to the Michigan State Police Update, the operator will not be required to carry proof of his or her endorsement or coverage.

After all of this confusion, you may be asking yourself, "what if I do not purchase the required $20,000 medical benefits?" The answer is that if you are stopped helmetless by the police for any reason, and you do not have this $20,000 coverage, you will be cited for a civil infraction.

HOWEVER, it is my understanding that a Memo was sent to all Michigan State Police Posts by Director, Colonel Krist Kibbey Etue, clarifying for the officers how this law will be enforced. The Memo states the following:

  • The law does not require a motorcycle operator to carry or present proof he or she has a motorcycle endorsement for at least 2 years, or has successfully passed the motorcycle safety course
  • The law does not require a motorcycle operator or passenger to carry proof of the $20,000 security required to operate or ride a motorcycle without a helmet
  • Officers may NOT stop a motorcyclist for not wearing a helmet, based on the possibility that the operator or passenger may be in violation of the helmet law.

I have also learned that Sheriff Howie Hanst of Ogemaw County has instructed his officers

that since the Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law has been taken off the books, bikers no longer have to worry about DOT approval for their helmets. It appears therefore, that those of you who wish to wear novelty helmets may do so without worry of being stopped by the authorities.