Protect your motorcycle from theft

Although the cold winter months are upon us, in a very short time you may be getting ready to take the tarp off your favorite motorcycle and cruise the Autobahn.  In the meantime, while the wind is too bitter and the bike is too cold to ride, you can take measures to protect your interests in that favorite pasttime of yours.  

Here are some helpful hints from the Wiesbaden Area Claims Office to let you know how to be in a better position in filing a claim if your motorcycle is stolen this year.

For claims that do not arise from permanent change of station shipments, your insurance is the first resource for recovering money on a stolen motorcycle. You must file with your insurance before you can file a claim with the Claims Office. For that reason, while your motorcycle is safely locked indoors, take the time to check your insurance policy.

It is a common mistake to believe because you have full coverage on your car or truck, your motorcycle which is on the same policy has the same coverage. Frequently, insurance companies do not cover motorcycle theft because it is high risk in the sense they are easily stolen, unlikely to be recovered, and cost thousands of dollars to replace.

If you are not found to be negligent, and your insurance will not cover the theft, the Claims Office can typically pay a maximum of $3,000 for a stolen motorcycle.  Further, in addition to your insurance, for a motorcycle to be legally on post or at government quarters it must be registered as described under local regulation. If an unregistered motorcycle is stolen, it is almost always a non-payable claim.

There are two significant burdens that any potential claimants must prove if they wish to claim for a stolen motorcycle.  The first burden is showing that the loss of the motorcycle occurred on the installation or at assigned quarters and was the result of theft.

This can be accomplished in several different ways to include witness statements, immediately filed police reports, and security camera footage, usually taken together with whatever other means exist to show that the motorcycle was located at these authorized locations.  However, the second burden is far more important and can be far more difficult to prove.

According to Department of the Army Pamphlet 27-162, paragraph 11-6c(4)(j), a claimant is expected to keep a motorcycle indoors or chain it to a fixed object if reasonably available.  Further, DA PAM 27-162 states that merely locking the handlebars does not provide sufficient protection. Therefore, if your motorcycle is parked on the street with only the handlebar locks engaged, and is stolen, you would be facing a non-payable claim through the Army.

To prove that your motorcycle was properly secured could be extremely difficult as well.  If the thieves leave behind the cut security chain, it should be retained as evidence. If you can prove that the motorcycle was cut away from another object, pictures of that object should be taken and provided to the Claims Office.

In short, you must prove that you secured your motorcycle before any claim can be paid for its theft.

Should you want to gather more information or address concerns regarding the ability to claim motorcycles or other stolen goods, an appointment should be set up to speak with a member of the claims staff at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

The Legal Assistance/ Claims Office is located at the Clay Kaserne Legal Center, Building 1023N. For more information, call mil 337-4725 or civ (0611) 705 4725.

(Courtesy of the Wiesbaden Area Claims Office.)