True stories, especially cautionary tales, are always more compelling than any fiction. I wanted to share the story of a friend of mine and bike accident victim, Brian Klotz.
In the aftermath of a terrible collision that left him with serious injuries, Brian learned something about auto insurance that EVERY BICYCLIST NEEDS TO KNOW. This is based on the actual experience of someone who is still recovering the ability to walk more than a half mile, who is steadily making gains back to getting through daily life independently.
Brian recently sent an e-mail out to the members of Big Horn Velo, our Elmira-based bicyclist group. He wanted to thank everybody for their support (e-mails, visits, cards and gifts) during his recovery.
He also wrote: “I hope that the lessons that I have learned, such as ALWAYS wearing your helmet, making sure that you have the maximum amount of SUM coverage on your auto-insurance that is possible. (I did not — talk to Jim for more details), and being patient with your recovery may make a difference with anyone else who finds themselves in this condition (which I would not wish on anyone).”
Brian gave his OK for me to share some information about his case and to follow-up on his comments about SUM coverage and the fact that he unfortunately did not have the maximum amount of recommended coverage. I apologize for the length of this post but as you will read below, this is VERY important information for all cyclists.
As you will recall, a few months ago I posted about the importance of SUM coverage for all bicyclists who also own cars.
SUM stands for Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage.
What it means is that if you get hit by a dirtbag (that is a precise legal term) with no insurance or a woodchuck (another legal term) with only minimal insurance (in New York state, the minimum is only $25,000. In Pennsylvania it is only $15,000), you have the right to recover from your own insurance company up to the full amount of your own SUM coverage. In other words, even if the other guy does nothing to protect you, you can protect yourself with SUM coverage.
2 great things about SUM:
SUM covers you (and your family) whether you are injured in your car OR on your bike.
Unlike most insurance coverage, SUM costs very little for all the protection it provides.
I personally recommend that all my cycling friends purchase a minimum of $250,000 of SUM coverage.
Brian has given me permission to share the details of his coverage with all of you because it illustrates in a very dramatic way the harm that befalls you if you don’t have proper SUM coverage.
In Brian’s accident, the 83-year-old driver who rear-ended him only had $25,000 of coverage. Brian did have $100,000 of SUM coverage at least. But he had intended to boost his limits to my recommended amount of $250,000.
Before the accident, when Brian contacted his insurance company (the dreaded gecko — Geico) to boost his limits, they said they would not add the additional coverage.
When an insurance company doesn’t want to sell more insurance, you have to assume that there is a very good reason why …
They didn’t want to increase his limits because they get paid a very small premium for what is potentially a large amount of risk. Well, what is bad for them, is good for you!
But here is the big lesson: Brian decided to wait until March when it was time to renew his policy and then he was going to search for a carrier that would give him $250,000 in SUM coverage (there are LOTS of companies who routinely sell higher SUM coverage). The decision to wait a few months may have cost him $150,000 in insurance coverage which otherwise would have been available! Ouch!
All of my cycling friends, please learn from this hard lesson:
REVIEW YOUR POLICY TODAY TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AT LEAST $250,000 OF SUM COVERAGE
(If you are not sure how to read your coverage, just fax me at (607) 398-7947 or e-mail me the couple pages from your policy that list your coverages/premiums, and I will be happy to review them for you at no charge).
IF YOU HAVE LESS THAN $250,000 OF SUM, GET MORE COVERAGE NOW EVEN IF IT MEANS CHANGING INSURANCE CARRIERS.
After more than 23 years of representing injured people, not once have I ever heard anyone regret that they have too much coverage, but I have witnessed first-hand the financial devastation that occurs when people do not have enough coverage.
Better safe than sorry……
Thanks for reading and RIDE SAFELY,
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and