- This post is going to be missing some specific financial figures and mostly work in round numbers adjusted to the nearest hundred dollars.
- The location of the crash is also going to remain private
- Not going to name anyone or any company specifically
- In case I forget to mention, I suffered no injuries or even a bruise from this crash but the potential for injury is high given how long I slid
- This site has riders from all over so please if you are a rider of another brand and are just going to comment about financial matters of BMW’s cost or my modifications, please just don’t post. This is here for others as a learning lesson not a “crap all over BMWs thread’
TLDR: You could just watch these 3 videos to see the crash, the day after, a video of the damage and a full video going over the insurance situation in detail:
Last Photo of the bike in perfect condition on September 6th:
Friday morning, early September, Central-Vermont. While attending the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Vermont Green Mountain Rally, I had my 2017 BMW R1200GS Adventure there covered in accessories (farkles) and after a few cups of coffee, I wrapped up my volunteer duties and 2 strangers (at the time) invited me out on a ride. We were one hour into our adventure with a good pace, just enjoying the nice morning. It was around 60F, sunny, no wet roads and we were all doing the speed limit.
I entered a hair-pin turn, leaned the bike over to the left as I had over 500 times this year in the last 11,000 total miles (17.702km) since April on this motorcycle and it’s as if both wheels just disappeared under me. I laid out a Christmas Story style “Fuuuuckkddgge” as I slid 45 feet off the road into a guard-rail.
I was in the middle of our order so one rider went up ahead before noticing I wasn’t behind him. The other rider behind me stopped immediately. I couldn’t pick up my bike. It turned out the guard rail was keeping that from happening. He stood behind the bike, I put it in neutral and we rolled it back slightly on its side and then picked it up.
The bike’s motor had stopped but I couldn’t turn off the ignition switch. It was unresponsive. I could start and stop the engine with the switch but the button (where a key used to go before software engineers decided keys were stupid) wasn’t reacting. I decided to just leave the bike on despite possibly running down the battery because once off, it may not restart.
Oh yeah, the bike started up just fine. The only safety issue is the ABS and Traction Control lights were solid and weren’t going off. I can’ verify ABS was gone but I didn’t take any chances for the ride home.
I did an assessment of the bike, my shifter was broken, my brake pedal was bent into the frame, my right foot-peg was bent up into the frame, my license plate had ripped off and my crash bars from AltRider didn’t move an inch but they were absolutely in need of replacement because they had lost some weight. The once tubular crash bars were flat on the side that slide down the road but still no holes in them…quite a thick tube wall I should say. My cylinder head guard from Machine Art Moto was also intact. My Final Drive (shaft) slider was used up and my final drive guard had done its job showing nothing but some love-marks.
Time to assess myself and my gear (yeah, a little out of order). I’ve been down before, I know how adrenaline can play a part so we spent 15 minutes on the Side of the road with most of that time being a self-check of my bill of health. I moved/jumped/bent/stretched and walked around to assess myself. I felt just fine. My pants were heavily shredded but they could probably sustain another crash of this kind despite losing their waterproofness. My jacket, same. The ceramic elbow coating was gone but the mesh and D3O pad beneath it was unharmed. Again no more complete waterproofness and if I was certain I’d crash on my right side next time, I could continue to wear this jacket forever.
My boots which have a plastic piece on the outside were fine but the plastic was worn down and a buckle was pretty scraped up but all was in tact. My gloves never touched the ground. They were fine and my helmet, well you really can’t say for sure if it should be worn again. Luckily, insurance is taking no chances and insisting I buy a replacement. They took my old helmet for safe-keeping just in case. Shoei had just inspected my helmet last month and gave it a clean bill of health. I was going to send it to them again but insurance didn’t approve of my suggestion. I’m going to miss the helmet. 3 years, 30K miles of wear and it has don’t its job a few times.
We rode the bikes to the next pull off area and the bike ran fine. Other than the solid ABS light, it was tracking just fine, no wobble, no off-balance tracking or it was very solid so I told the guys I was prepared to ride the 70 miles home or 50 miles back to camp. My girlfriend insisted I ride home and she and I would go back to camp later to get my things but my friends from Quebec were arriving and I really wanted to spend the night catching up with them and I still had volunteer duties so we skipped lunch and rode straight back to the rally. The only hack required to get home was a vise-grip on my shifter.
Back at camp, I grabbed my tool roll and pulled the negative lead from the battery, the bike finally turned off. I waited a minute, plugged it back in and the bike re-started as if nothin happened so luckily, the bike wasn’t out of commission, it was just some sort of fail-safe or software bug that kept the bike from turning off (again the motor turned off, this is just the ignition).
That evening, strangers kept coming up, “you the guy who crashed?!?!” It got old but people were surprised I rode the bike back to camp and not on the back of a tow-truck. I have free towing but honestly, the guards and protection on this bike is what saved it. The hand guards, crash bars and final drive slider took a lot of abuse and they all needed replacing but they did their job and I rode out of there. Pretty amazing if I was in the middle of nowhere to be able to get home thanks to the aftermarket accessories. If you slow down the video frame by frame, you can see the bike was sliding sideways on the cylinder head for a second. Sparks flying, very scary shit.
Enjoyed a beer with friends, didn’t worry about it that evening just had a good time:
I was convinced I’d go home, buy a new shifter, a new brake lever and continue riding the bike the rest of the season and strip it down to replace everything broken over the Winter. “It’s totaled man” says Sylvaine from Quebec. He’s totaled two GS Adventure bikes in the last 5 years. “That bent brake lever is $500. The peg is a part of the frame. You’re fucked”
Photos of the Damage:
The easy part was over. Crashing was simple. I was fine and happy to not be in a hospital and be with friends. I stepped away and started taking care of the necessary things of insurance.
I call Vermont State Police. It’s not necessary if there is no 2nd party or property damage but I’m a good guy. I call. “I know that curve” says the officer “we tow a bike out of there every month” She continued, “we investigated that spot after a fatality and you take a hard right, the road dips then it’s a 120 degree hair-pin on an incline. The suspension compresses on your rear wheel and then you give it gas and lean over. When it extends, it pushes out from under you. That’s a 10 MPH turn for motorcycles, not 25 as suggested by the signs.”
She took my information, I promised on the phone there was no property damage and I did add that there are a lot of motorcycle parts in the gravel up there, “I know” she said. I received a case number and then started a claim with my insurance company. They are one of the top 3 insurance companies and I switched to them away from another insurance company in July. They were $600 a year. This was $160 a year for the same coverages. Half way into this process, I was convinced that I had found where the savings came from but spoiler-alert, things do work out in the end.
I spoke to a claims person on the phone on Sunday (48 hours after the crash) to review my coverages.
- My deductible is $500 for this incident and it will be removed from the final settlement
- They will reimburse me $500 for a new helmet
- I am reimbursed $500 for my safety gear
My accessories coverage is…she had to put me on hold stuttering in disbelief. She comes back, “You have $20,000 in accessories coverage.” “That’s right” I said. Standard is $2,000, I had added that line-item to my policy in August after going through the exercise of adding up everything on the bike and seeing that I had spent $14,500USD on accessories for my bike that was now 12 months old:
The person on the other side of the line said “you’ll need receipts for any damaged accessories as a result of this crash”. No problem there. The only receipt I had to track down was from my powder-coating guy who did the work 7 months prior and was able to find his Quickbooks receipt for me of $572 in work.
I told her to jot down what I spent on my safety-gear because I felt $500 allowance was horribly low for a suit that kept me out of the hospital. Shoei GT-Air $600, Klim Badlands Pants, $699, Klim Adventure Rally Jacket, $1400, Forma Adventure Boots, $300. She noted down the figures and re-affirmed that $500 was the maximum fro suit and $500 for helmet.
During the call, she also asked if I was wearing my helmet. “It’s the law so yes” I responded. “You’d be surprised how few people are wearing a helmet” she said “We wouldn’t be speaking right now if I wasn’t” I said.
The next morning, I took a lot of photos of my motorcycle, safety-gear and started collecting location info of the crash, time stamps from the InReach communicator and such so I could get everything over to insurance that they may ask for.
After packing up my gear, one day earlier than the rally was ending, I noticed my luggage racks were also bent.
It was 70 miles home, my fake shifter almost fell off once and I just stayed on back-roads and made it home safely. I parked the bike and went inside and took a nap. My neck was hurting a little bit. My girlfriend was convinced I had internal bleeding. I didn’t go to the hospital, the neck pain was the last thing I felt and I’m glad it was. Not a macho guy but I know my body from years of martial arts. I called my dad later that day, the crash felt equivalent to him throwing me across the room in judo. He’d have me up above his 6’2” frame on his shoulder and drop me a bout 10 feet away on my back and I did this 4 hours a day, 5 days a week from age 5 when he trained for his black belt test in Japan through age 21 when I moved away to San Francisco. My body was tired from years of being thrown around, I’m permanently taking glucosamine just to get out of bed and I love him but my body is destroyed from grappling, throwing, falling off roofs and running on the beach bare-foot for 2 decades. The crash felt way less than his normal throws and my only risk of the crash was abrasion risk from sliding and the gear didn’t allow that.
A few people on ADVRider messaged me to offer some advice. They were clear that I should keep my mouth shut about the crash publicly, don’t put out any videos until this was behind me but also for the next year, insurance companies watch social media and they are looking for social media posts from me and if I’m being reckless, don’t be surprised if my rates go up again when my new bike is up for renewal but if I want my claim to go well, just wait and answer questions from the insurance company but don’t give up more information than you need to.
One thing I didn’t do that was recommended to me was “cloud the facts” and I am not a liar and I like being honest with everyone, even big evil corporations so I didn’t cloud things at all. I said it was a normal day, things were good, we were having fun, obeying the law and I low-sided. I didn’t add “the tires were just mounted, they may have been done wrong” or “there might have been some sand there” those kind of things.
They didn’t ask if I had a video but my BMW Service Advisor who had seen the video told the adjuster there was one because he was asked directly by the insurance company. He said “it was just a normal ride, nothing crazy and he low-sides” the adjuster never asked me for a copy directly but he’ll eventually see it via YouTube or this thread.
My insurance adjuster was assigned immediately and he came to my house 2 days later to review the damage. “This is probably going to be ten grand” he said “but I am not very familiar with motorcycles of this kind. I know Harleys but not many other brands” He snapped photos and I’m a project manager for the last 15 years so I gave him a few excel spreadsheets and receipts of parts that were damaged that I had paid out of pocket along with receipts for my riding suit and helmet.
3 hours later he calls, “you’re going to get an email but don’t freak out. We don’t have your bike in our system so we can’t really give you an estimate” The email said “$430 in damage which is $70 less than your deductible”
My nearest BMW Dealer picked up the bike 2 days later. They do free pickup and delivery of new bike sales and service within 100 miles of their location. I live 93 miles from them. I can never move farther North
Last photo of my bike before they picked it up:
Five days later, they send me this estimate:
I followed up that they actually missed a few things such as the damaged peg, luggage rack and they got the skid plate brand wrong. They revised it and sent this:
The adjuster a week earlier had told me his company will consider a bike a total loss if repairs are 3/4 the total value (66.67%). I knew it was totaled when I saw that.
I sent the rest of my accessory receipts to them along with receipts. The adjuster calls, “this is the most detailed list I’ve ever seen” He was very impressed but this is just how I roll.
During this process, I was not familiar but the BMW dealer was charging my insurance company storage fees at the tune of $55 a day. The max allowed storage time was 2 weeks on my policy so just under $800 was spent on my behalf to store a bike. More on this later.
The parts list from BMW was obviously very high but I have now learned that love-marks we all just deal with are all considered a part of the repair so a scratch on the front fork, a $1700 part is enough to require a replacement where you and I would just ignore it and maybe give it some touch-up paint. The only parts I thought needed replacing were my pedals, pegs, crash bars and luggage rack…still $3000 bucks going OEM but not enough to write off the bike. The muffler was also dented but BMW wanted $1600 for it. I was just going to take the money and buy a $800 Akra can but again, I never had that chance. I wanted to keep the bike but my Quebec friend was right.
None of these quotes mattered because once BMW showed my adjuster the bent peg and a $4500 part for a frame, a part that BMW won’t even sell you, the bike was totaled and none of these figures mattered.
I found out the final cost to repair value with the frame was $19,000+ and BMW won’t sell anyone a frame or at least it shows “on backorder for one year” so the possibility to repair it was out of the question.
I couldn’t buy the bike back from BMW because of the frame damage.
2 Weeks from the crash, the adjuster called me while I was driving to BMW to say goodbye to my bike and buy a new one or at least see what new bikes they had in stock. “I have some good news” he said
The bike’s value was $19,500 USD. They had 3 other comps nationally to mine that all had lower miles and were $18-20K USD. They actually settled pretty high. I was expecting them to low-ball me at $15K. BMW told the adjuster they’d offer $17K on my bike for trade-in without the accessories. The fact that they came at $19.5 was good for me. My only issue with their form was they indicated my bike didn’t have a skid plate or crash bars and I wanted to be compensated but eventually, it was determined I didn’t have OEM bars / skid plate so thats’ why those were ex-ed out and the aftermarket ones would be covered under accessories.
Unfortunately, the total loss settlement was $21,500, only $2,000 for $14,000 in accessories. I was so bummed. I started asking BMW what it’d cost to remove the accessories from my bike. “About $1100 they said” I decided to wait it out because I saw that they valued the accessories at $10,500 but then they subtracted it down to $2K
Did they screw up the amount I’m insured for?
I sent a note to my adjuster with my concerns while I waited for the finance manager at BMW to generate all of the forms that required my signature for a new motorcycle.
From Thursday at 10AM to Tuesday at 10AM, I heard nothing from my adjuster. I remained patient. I knew that something was messed up but I was still going to be bummed if they only offered me 25% of the value for parts I had installed on the bike in 2018.
I spoke to BMW again on Tuesday to set up delivery of my new motorcycle, “Your bike is still here” they said. My adjuster on Thursday mentioned “tomorrow is the last day we’ll pay for storage at BMW” It turns out my policy has a 2 week storage limit at $57 a day that they will cover and I’d be responsible for anything beyond Friday. While they did have to pay more than the 2 weeks, they took ownership for forgetting to schedule the tow-truck to come in and pick up the bike. Definitely a word of advice is ask how much they’ll pay for storage costs of your bike during the repair / estimate process.
Last photo of my bike before they picked it up where you can see all of the green stickies indicating things needing to be replaced:
On Wednesday, I received an email from my adjuster. He’s been busy and the bike is now picked up and they made a mistake on the amount. He had the 3rd party re-do their paperwork with the $20,000 accessories coverage included. My bike’s value was still $19,500 but they now are offering a total settlement of around 30K on the bike as it currently sits. T’hat’s $10K in accessories out of $14K. Their response was that tires that were on the bike, powder coating and the various iPhone mounts, accessory mounts, wiring and power management modules on the bike were not something they’d reimburse. But they were going to reimburse all of the ergonomic, protection, comfort and lighting enhancements I made.
I accepted his offer thinking all week I’d get $2000 back in accessories. I was certainly happy with that outcome.
The next steps are all beneficial to people who are going to go through this but not very exciting.
- I had to call my credit union and authorize they reveal my account information to my insurance company.
- My adjuster now handed me off to a total-loss / salvage team within the insurance company
- I sent to them my payoff information, loan account number and my main contact at the credit union and I confirmed I didn’t have gaap insurance but I owed way less than they estimated the bike was worth without accessories so no worries there.
- My adjuster said that I had to buy new safety gear in order for him to reimburse me for it and it must be of the same kind of gear so if my jacket is destroyed, I have to buy a jacket, I can’t use the money for an airbag vest or new boots. I also had to buy them new from a major reseller, not eBay or Craigslist (or ADVRider)
- I had to buy safety gear within a reasonable amount of time but not a huge rush. But since he has to give me checks in person, it’s best if I get everything ordered ASAP so I put in a RevZilla order for a new helmet and jacket. He even joked “you could always return the items after you’re reimbursed but you really shouldn’t” when I told him I was hoping to order new gear during Winter-sales in January.
- Klim has a 5 year crash protection guarantee. My Badlands Pants were brand new so Klim replaced them (more on that below)
- Klim did not protect the Adventure rally jacket since it was a 2011 model so I used my $500 to buy a new Badlands Proj Jacket which was a little more than $500.
- I received an email that they paid $808 to my BMW dealer for storage fees and they paid money out from my settlement to my credit union
- I met with my insurance adjuster 3 days later to sign power of attorney, title release forms and various other forms saying I am owed nothing else and I was given 3 checks, one for $500 for a helmet, one for $500 for safety gear and another for the remaining balance minus my $500 deductible.
- I asked the adjuster after accepting the settlement offer on the phone “when can I cancel my coverage?” He said, “you should have already done that. Call them to cancel your coverage and put the day after the crash took place. I did and they cancelled it and refunded me some money or unused coverage as my policy was only 2 months in when the crash occurred.
- My insurance company on the total loss form, subtracted $542 of my bike’s value for 13,700 miles on the odometer meaning it cost 3.9 cents per mile to operate my bike based on insurance value.
- It took from September 7th until October 11th to receive my final check. Things do take some time for everything to line up.
Some immediate advice for everyone here. Call your insurance company and ask them these questions:
- What do you cover for riding gear? Is it the full value if I have receipts or do you depreciate the value over time? Is there a policy limit on riding gear? Do you cover air-bags?
- What is the policy limit for my helmet? Do you cover communication systems?
- What is the maximum days / monetary value you will pay for storage while my bike is being repaired / estimated?
- Do you require a police report for single-party incidents with no bodily or property damage?
- What is my accessories coverage? Is it a depreciated value based on time?
- What is the adjustment for miles on a per mile basis?
- How do you decide my bike’s value? What source? Can I send you comps for consideration?
- How many miles do you cover towing on my bike? What if the nearest BMW Dealer is 200 miles away? What is my out of pocket costs?
- What is your value to repair ratio of deciding when my motorcycle is a total loss? (My insurance was 3/4 repair to value which I was told is pretty low compared to other companies and sometimes it’s the state that sets this law).
- When can I cancel my coverage if my bike is found to be a total loss?
- What is my rental fee coverage?
My Experience with Klim’s Great Protection Guarantee. This program has very little fine print. If your garment is less than 5 years old and is Gore-Tex and was purchased from Klim or a reseller new, they’ll replace it for you if you’re involved in a crash. You have to present a police report from the crash or relevant insurance claim information along with photos of the gear. Once approved, you will have to send your gear to Klim at your expense and once they receive tracking information, they will send out your replacement gear.
They utilize the crashed gear for research and analysis to improve the garments and the payment to you is that they replace the gear with something comparable. In my case, they replaced my Badlands 2017 pants with a 2018 Badlands Pro pants since the 2017 model is no longer made. I did not ask but I assume my 5 year guarantee doesn’t start over though. I have 4 more years of gear protection coverage on the new pants and I hope I don’t have to use it
Here are some photos of my gear:
I went back to another insurance company after the crash to look at my options for coverage. In their case, they cover the full retail price of my safety gear so despite their policy being $350 more per year than my current insurance company, the $1400 Klim Jacket, $700 pants, $300 boots, $600 helmet and $300 Sena would have been completely replaced. They also do not charge more for accessories coverage They will cover any and all accessories and there is no limit so long as you have receipts. They would depreciate the value of those accessories and could not give me a figure but the agent said it’d be very similar to what my company did.
With that information, I may switch back to the other insurance company. Even though my experience with my company was overall pretty good, I think the gear limits of $500 for all safety gear would be fine if I primarily wear Joe Rocket gear and finger-less gloves but I live in the cold north with lots of rain so I wear pricey Gore-tex suits and the value is 4 times higher than $500 when I leave the house. Everything else about my insurance was a good experience.
I’m a few weeks removed from the incident now but I certainly don’t feel like the whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m happy overall with the outcome. I just had to use some of my settlement money to replace my riding suit and helmet but gear is more important than modifications.
My new GS Adventure in red won’t be modified as much now that I see the diminishing returns of mods being so small compared to the cost out of pocket.
I will say that if I had known better, while the bike was at my house for 6 days before BMW picked it up, I would have taken every accessory off the bike that wasn’t damaged and moved it over to another bike. I think selling the accessories on ADVRider though would have been less profitable than just letting my insurance company pay me for them when you factor in shipping, PayPal fees and my time dealing with you cheap guys
Final thoughts, I was lucky. I wasn’t underwater on my bike down (don’t finance for a long time guys and keep an eye on interest rates), I wasn’t injured, I didn’t hit anyone or damage anyone’s property but my own and didn’t end up in legal matters having to defend myself after killing someone in another car or a pedestrian or slamming through someone’s front window. It was a single person, single vehicle incident in the middle of nowhere Vermont on a fully insured bike and I was wearing all of my riding gear. I almost just wore a jersey that morning with my riding pants. I’m glad I wore the full suit. No one plans on crashing but when you do, be in your full riding suit. Seriously, it’s not worth all of the shit I’d still be in had I just been wearing my thermals + jersey.
However, despite how simple this all was, it gave me a great glimpse into how insurance works. This being my first claim, I learned a lot and I’m happy it’s all behind me. I have a new bike, my insurance rates actually went down with the same company on the year newer bike and now the modifications begin…after I ride it this month. It’ll be snowing soon so I’m going to just ride it and enjoy the new bike before it goes in the garage for the long winter of modifications.
Thank you for reading. I hope this record of my experience helps others. 4816 words. Sorry!