Category Archives: SUM coverage

Blog Post Tells Harrowing Tale Of One Rider’s Personal Hell After Collision



The Cycling In The South Bay blog had a great post recently that captures very well the agony/frustration/despair that often afflicts my clients who have suffered life-changing bike crashes.

The blog post looks at a January 2015 collision Deb Banks suffered when she was run down  by a drunk driver. She suffered multiple serious injuries:  a fractured pelvis, a huge gash on her arm , and most devastating, severe life-changing leg injuries.

Deb has endured five surgeries since then, and is still fighting for recovery every day. The driver was sentenced to nine years in jail. Sadly, Deb will suffer much longer than those nine years as she will have a lifetime of pain and hurdles to overcome on the road to recovery.

To understand all that she has endured, read the blog post here. It’s heartbreaking, and probably hard for many cyclists to read. But you should read it. Now. It could happen to any of us at any time we are riding.

The blog post has a couple important messages for all of us who ride bikes:

  • “First, it’s an explicit command for you to check your auto liability insurance and make sure that you have at least $500,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If your carrier won’t let you insure to that amount, change carriers.”
  • “Second, it’s a commentary on the trajectory of injury. We see Facebook posts of friends in the hospital, or gory aftermath photos, or black-and-white images of pins and bolts drilled into bone, and then we move on to the next item. It’s difficult to comprehend that after we’ve glanced at the photo, the person is still living with the injury, suffering from it, and in some cases is going to be dealing with it the rest of their life.”
  • “Third, this is the story of how one person deals with having her entire life upended as a result of one drunk driver. It’s not an easy story or a saccharine one, and it doesn’t have a happy ending because there is no ‘ending.’ There’s just a story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and moving forward with what you’ve got left.”

The blog post writer concludes with some comments worth highlighting here:

  • “The real jail sentence has been the collateral life damage, and it’s something that every injured cyclist knows about intimately.”
  • Deb’s leg injury “requires constant daily care. It hurts all the time. It gets infected. She can’t swim, can’t bike, can barely walk, sleeps with her leg on a foam pad, and can’t sleep under the covers. In other words, her life has completely changed as she’s been thrust into the alt-universe of the catastrophically injured, i.e., those who carry massive disruptions to their daily life and emotional well-being along with the catastrophic physical injuries.”
  • “… If the ankle never mends, life today becomes a template for the rest of life, which means dealing with a leg that is permanently disabled.”
  • “One unexpected benefit to constantly struggling is empathy. Deb now ‘gets it’ in a profound way. However big her challenges are, she understands and empathizes with people who are in even bigger pain, in even more dire straits with no hope, ever, of recovery.”
  • “… She wants to prove that she can come back, that she can do it again, and then maybe she’ll be done with it. It’s occurred to her that cycling for hundreds of miles may not be her thing anymore, but if she does bow out, she’s vowed to do it on her terms, not on the terms of (driver) Gabriel Ray. ‘He doesn’t get to decide how I choose to live my life. He doesn’t.’”

Thanks for reading, and be sure to read the complete blog post!


James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Crash Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and



For NY And PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer, It’s A HUGE Honor To Be Featured In National Bike Law Expert’s Blog!


BobMionskeinStarsAll of my fellow avid bicyclists know Bob Mionske, the former Olympic and pro cyclist who also happens to be a top-notch Oregon bicycle accident lawyer who wrote THE book on bike law, “Bicycling and The Law.”

Dan Flanzig, a New York City bike accident lawyer, and I were recently honored to be interviewed by Bob for his blog,

For bicycle accident lawyers, being featured in Bob’s blog is like an athlete being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It doesn’t get any better!

Dan and I were interviewed because we were both selected to be featured in as among the top bicycle accident lawyers in our state.

Dan and I talked about:

  • How we got started as bicycle accident lawyers.
  • The state of bicycling in New York, upstate and downstate.
  • Our work with the New York Bicycling Coalition. We are both board members.
  • The statewide political climate in Albany for bicycling.
  • Our best advice for bicyclists involved in accidents.

My wife and I have both been struck by vehicles while riding and I talk about the impact it had on us. You’ll have to read the interview for those comments but here are some of the other excerpts:

  • Historically, the cycling movement hasn’t been particularly well-received in Albany but things seem to be warming and we are cautiously optimistic that there are better days ahead. I think many NY politicians and state agencies are starting to see the huge benefits cycling can offer in many different respects—health, improving urban transportation, tourism dollars and reducing fuel consumption.
  • NYBC is the largest cycling advocacy group in New York and … is really on the move. NYBC is targeting a few key legislative projects: E-bike legislation, a 3-foot safe passing law, and specific inclusion of cycling safety education to the new driver curriculum and driver permit test.
  • Proper insurance coverage can mean the difference between financial devastation versus successfully surviving the financial damages caused by a bad bike crash. One quick insurance tip: if you are a NY cyclist who also owns a car, make sure you have at least $250,000 of SUM (Supplemental Under-Insured Motorist) coverage on your auto policy. This coverage protects you if you get hit by a car that is either uninsured or under-insured. You can read more about SUM coverage on my blog, New York Bike Accident Blog.

Thanks for reading!


James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and



NY Bike Accident Lawyer Explains Why SUM Coverage Is Important For ALL Bicyclists

SUM coverage is a great deal for all bicyclists who are eligible and able to buy it.

I was recently asked by another bicyclist for my advice about how much insurance he should have. He wondered whether he should get some bicycle-specific insurance to supplement his SUM insurance.

SUM is short for Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. Here are two great things you should know about SUM:

(1)  SUM covers you and your family whether you are injured in your car or on your bike.

(2)  Unlike most insurance coverage, SUM costs very little for all the protection it provides.

I personally recommend that all of my cycling friends purchase a minimum of $250,000 of SUM coverage.

I wanted to share the advice I gave the other bicyclist with all of my readers, because I think it will help my fellow riders and their families, who are wondering whether they have enough insurance!


But let me address this bicyclist’s question about bicycle-specific insurance.  Bicycle specific insurance policies are policies that are marketed to and provide coverage for cyclists.  These policies can provide coverage for property damage to your bike, medical bills, lost wages and miscellaneous expenses.  These policies are designed both for bicyclists who may not have a car or other insurance coverage, or, for those folks who want to supplement their other insurance coverage like auto insurance or health insurance.

To be honest, I don’t know a lot about this type of insurance because it is relatively new and I have only been hearing about it for the last year or two.  Furthermore, I have yet to have any of the many bike accident clients I represent actually have this type of insurance so I don’t have any personal or professional experience with these policies.

However, I did go online to review a few of the different bicycle-specific insurance policies I could find.  Frankly what I found was disappointing– relatively high premiums for relatively low coverage.  For instance, one policy only provided $50 per day for every day you were in the hospital.  Heck, if you are in the hospital, $50 is nothing so I view that coverage as virtually worthless.  Of course, that was one policy and there may be other policies out there that are better but my little brief sampling of what is available was disappointing.  If anyone knows of what they believe is a great bicycle specific policy, please let me know in the comments below as I am always eager to know of insurance products that could help my cycling friends and clients.

My feeling is that the more insurance someone has, the better.  So I would never advise against having as much insurance as anyone could afford, and sometimes it is necessary that you have several types of insurance to cover the many different ways you might be injured.

However, I know most folks’ budgets are limited, so with that in mind, we all need to make decisions about the best coverage to buy.


For my money, SUM is far and away the best deal because it provides lots of additional protection for relatively few dollars and it protects you both when driving a car or riding your bike.

I would much rather see people increasing their property damage deductible to save some money so they can apply those dollars to the SUM coverage.

Let’s face it, having to pay $250 to $500 more for property damage is not good, but it’s not nearly as bad as having injuries worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with no coverage.

So my first recommendation is always buy as much SUM coverage as you can afford.

I am not enamored of bicycle-specific insurance policies for a few different reasons:

  • First, most of these policies are expensive for the limited coverage they provide.
  • Second, most are extremely limited in defining what injuries they cover (i.e., death or total amputation but nothing for the most typical injuries like a fracture).
  • And third, some very narrowly define what types of cycling accidents are even covered or have exclusions if there is auto coverage applicable.

Of course, insurance policies are simply contracts, so you always have to read the actual insurance policy to see exactly what it does and does not provide but most of the bicycle-specific policies I have seen to date have serious limitations.  Hopefully in the future that will change, but so far I have yet to see a bike policy that I thought was worth buying.


However, there is one important caveat for those bikers who do not have a car and therefore can’t buy SUM for themselves: in that case, these bike policies are better than nothing!

I have written more about SUM coverage here and here. I strongly recommend you read more about it today.

Bicyclists in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers, what has been your experience with SUM insurance or specific bicycle policies? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading. Please be careful out there!

Thanks, Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and


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A Tragic Bike Crash Teaches Important Lessons For Bicyclists, Says NY and PA Bicycle Lawyer

Jordan Rapp's account of his near-fatal bike accident is a reminder of how bicyclists can protect themselves financially with their car insurance.

Professional triathlete Jordan Rapp recently wrote about what he learned after a near-fatal collision he had with a car two years ago. It is a very compelling and heartfelt account of how he almost died and grew to appreciate life much more.

Jordan shares plenty of good safety pointers in the article and it deserves your full attention. Read it here.

One of the most important lessons he shares — ATTENTION all bicyclists in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — relates to your car insurance. Yes, your CAR INSURANCE.

Jordan was riding in a bike lane along a California highway when a driver made a left turn in front of him and Jordan crashed through a car window. Broken glass severed two of his jugular veins, but the fast work of emergency workers saved his life.

The driver of the car? The coward without a conscience fled the scene and was tracked down by the California Highway Patrol. The driver had six fake IDs and an outstanding warrant.

But Jordan does not dwell on anger; he wants his fellow bicyclists to know how they can financially protect themselves, even if physically protecting yourself is not always possible. He wrote:

 “I found that in the immediate aftermath of my accident, it was clear that many people did not realize that in most states, your auto insurance is your primary insurance carrier in any accident involving a motor vehicle, even if you are on your bicycle. I have since maxed out my uninsured motorist/body-injury liability/medical coverage on my auto insurance, which added a grand total of about $9 a month to my costs for roughly 10 times the coverage. Auto insurance is the cheapest way to protect yourself in the event of an accident involving a car. With many drivers being uninsured or underinsured (or fleeing the scene of the accident), it’s best not to rely on coverage from the driver, which is really part of a larger message that the most important thing is to rely on your own wits and caution to keep yourself safe on the roads.”

I urge all readers of this blog to read Jordan’s moving account of his recovery and second chance.

But BEFORE you go, It’s important that every cyclist make sure they have excellent car insurance coverage, assuming they own a car. ALL bicyclists should have a large amount of SUM (Supplemental Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist) coverage on their car!

You should check your coverage TODAY, and update it if necessary, because you never know what might happen tomorrow. And I sure don’t want my cyclist friends in the horrible situation of monster medical bills and insufficient coverage.

You can read more about SUM coverage in my previous blog posts here and here.


Please be safe out there!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Jim.


James B. Reed

NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

Mailto: [email protected]

Office: (607)733-8866

Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)