Spring has finally sprung in Upstate NY and I know that the cyclists in my area (Elmira/Corning/Ithaca/Rochester) are loving the warmer weather. While there are LOTS of things we should be attending to as we start a new season, and I will be blogging about those later, I wanted to tackle one of the most important tips I can possibly offer to my bicycling friends:
MAKE SURE TO REVIEW YOUR AUTO INSURANCE POLICY TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE S.U.M. COVERAGE
I know this isn’t nearly as much fun as buying a new bike or adding some hot new components, but the failure to have the proper coverage on your CAR can dramatically impact the amount of insurance coverage you will have when you are riding your BIKE. You may be asking: Why does my car insurance coverage affect me when I am riding my bike? The short answer is that you CAN receive coverage from your car insurance if you get hurt by another car while riding your bike. So, the key is to make sure you have the right coverage on your car.
Below I am posting an email exchange between myself and one of the riders in our local clubs (RogueRaceTeam.com). The exchange is somewhat long but well worth reading for every cyclist.
Glad to respond to your request to repost this info for our new members because I do think that it is critically important that ALL CYCLISTS check their auto insurance policies to make sure they have AT LEAST $250,000 (better yet, $500,000) of SUM (Supplemental Underinsured Motorist) coverage.
This is a complicated subject but the Reader’s Digest version is that this is coverage from your own insurance company that covers you when you get hit by some woodchuck (that’s a nice legal term for “uninsured dirtbag”) who has no insurance or only minimal coverage. Adding additional SUM coverage is very cheap and provides LOTS more protection so it truly is a no-brainer that you should have this coverage. I have represented many injured cyclists whose recoveries have been dramatically increased because they had the foresight to purchase this coverage.
If after reading the info below, you still aren’t sure about your coverage or what you should do, just email me and I will be happy to take a look at your policy and offer some advice. And, NO, it won’t cost you a penny! So who ever said a lawyer wouldn’t give free advice? J
OK HERE’S THE LONG VERSION:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
What SUM coverage provides is coverage from your own insurance carrier if you have the bad luck to be injured by someone who has no insurance (uninsured) or insufficient insurance (underinsured).
In NY, you can have SUM coverage up to the amount of your Liability coverage. Liability coverage is the coverage you are required to have to protect someone else you might accidentally hurt.
In NY, you are only required to have liability coverage of $25,000, but I urge EVERYONE to have minimum liability coverage of at least $250,000 (better yet, $500,000).
Why so much coverage? Two reasons:
1. Having liability limits of $250,000 permits you to also buy SUM limits of $250,000. It is that SUM coverage you need to protect YOU.
2. None of us likes paying for insurance but the interesting thing about insurance is that you pay a lot for the first amount of coverage but not much more as you add additional coverage. What this means, is that you can buy a whole lot more protection for not a whole lot more money. I had my agent run the #’s for increasing liability and SUM from $25,000 to $250,000 and the annual cost was only $62 more (only $5 more per month!). Of course, your costs may vary but it is certainly worth looking in to with your own agent.
Why is SUM coverage important to cyclists? Because it applies not only when you are driving your car but also if you get hit by a car while riding your bike! So if you get hit by a car with no insurance and you have SUM coverage of $250,000, that means you can recover up to $250,000 from your own insurance carrier. Sure makes those few extra $ that you spent for SUM coverage look like a smart buy, eh?
A FREE OFFER TO ALL CYCLISTS
Because I appreciate that trying to figure out your insurance coverage is like trying to memorize pi to the 100th digit, and because I can generally review a policy very quickly because I know what I am looking for, I am willing to review your insurance coverage FOR FREE. I know, you will all be shocked by the idea of a lawyer doing anything for free but that’s how much I love cyclists! J
Seriously, if you want to scan the Declaration pages from your car insurance policy (that is the page or two that recites all of your coverages and the amounts of premium you pay for those coverages) and E-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will be happy to take a quick look and give you my recommendation. If you don’t have a scanner, you can fax them to me at (607) 398-7947 but make sure you give me your E-mail address for response.
And no, don’t worry, I will not share your info with anyone else and I sure as heck won’t give your info to any insurance agent.