Flags can be carried on motorcycles but there are a number of things to be aware of.
Any organisation who carry flags for whatever reason should provide some basic advice to riders on the law of negligence and the attitude that would be taken by insurance companies having to deal with a claim for damages arising from a flag and/or pole becoming dislodged from a motorcycle and causing injury.
The law of negligence is relatively straight forward. In order to prove negligence, an individual must establish that the responsible person either did something or failed to do something as a result of which they have been injured. If a flag and pole becomes detached from a motorcycle, then it is a fairly straight forward issue. The individual responsible for that flag and pole is the motorcyclist and it can only become detached if it had not been adequately secured. In other words, negligence can be established against the motorcycle rider. It is really akin to any case involving a load. For example, lorry drivers have responsibility for security of their load. Car drivers have responsibility for security of luggage carriers and, in that same vein, any motorcyclist has responsibility for security of a ceremonial flag and flag pole.
Basic research conducted with a number of insurance companies confirmed the following:-
Harley Davidson insurance has stipulated that the insurance policy will only cover damage caused by the motorcycle itself and the flag is deemed an accessory.
It follows that any motorcyclist who is required to display a flag from a flag-pole attached to their motorcycle should contact HD Insurance and advise them of that. HD Insurance will thereafter note the flag and pole as an accessory and there may be a slight increase in the premium.
If an accident is subsequently caused by that “accessory” becoming detached, then in all probability it will be covered by insurance. It is unlikely that a rider will be injured by his own flag pole becoming detached and even if he was there would be no claim to the insurance company in respect of those injuries as the injuries would have been caused as a result of the motorcyclist’s own negligence. If the flag pole became dislodged and caused a loss of control and damage to the motorcycle, then, if it had been declared as an accessory, the insurance company may well accept a claim under the comprehensive insurance policy. Harley Davidson’s position, however, has been that each case will be assessed on a case by case basis. If the flag/pole, by becoming dislodged, causes injury to a third party, then HD should deal with any third party claim.
The majority of other insurance companies contacted have all indicated that the flag and flag pole must be declared to them in advance because it is deemed a “modification”. None of these insurance companies would be drawn to answer specifically the attitude they would take to third party claims for injury and loss arising from a flag pole becoming dislodged. Again, each case would be assessed on a case by case basis.
Some basic guidelines could perhaps be as follows:-