Supplementary Underinsured Motorists Coverage

The Most Important Car Insurance Coverage You Can Buy!

We have now come to the car insurance coverage that almost no one knows about but could be the most important coverage you can have if you are involved in a car crash with severe injuries.

Earlier, I discussed New York insurance law’s low mandatory liability limits. New York law requires just $25,000 per person or $50,000 total per accident, no matter how many people were hurt. So if you sustain an injury in a car crash, those amounts could be exhausted in a heartbeat.

The good news is that New York requires your insurance company to offer you another type of coverage called Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage, or SUM. Your company is required to offer you SUM coverage up to the liability coverage you carry on your vehicle.

SUM provides coverage from your insurance company to protect you (and your passengers) if the other driver is driving without any insurance (uninsured) or driving with policy limits that are not high enough to cover your damages (underinsured).

While liability coverage protects the other guy, SUM coverage protects you!

You would think everyone would know about and have SUM coverage, but I can tell you from cruel, harrowing experiences representing the victims of bad accidents that very few people know about or have SUM coverage. Why don’t people know about SUM coverage? Because most carriers hate writing SUM coverage because the premiums they charge for SUM are low, while the potential payouts are high. Remember that word “profit”? SUM isn’t great for profits; consequently, insurance carriers do not encourage their agents to push SUM coverage.

If you learn nothing else from this article, please know that you should ask your insurance agent about SUM coverage! I am encouraging you to insist on SUM limits equal to the amount of your liability limits. It won’t cost you much extra, but it will provide you with much more protection.

A Real-World Example Of How Your Auto Insurance Works

Let me give you an example of how SUM coverage works in combination with your No-Fault coverage and the other driver’s liability coverage. Assume you are well-informed from having read this book, and you tell your insurance agent that since you are carrying $250,000/$500,000 of liability coverage to protect the other guy, you also want $250,000/$500,000 of SUM coverage to protect you and your passengers. You also asked your agent for additional coverage (APIP) that boosts the minimum no-fault coverage from the required minimum of $50,000 up to $100,000.

Let’s assume you, your spouse, and your two kids are on the way home from dinner one night. Tragically, a drunk driver with a long history of drunken driving accidents runs a red light at high speed and smashes into your car. Your entire family has suffered injuries in the crash. You have sustained a broken leg and ribs and now have horrible back pain. Your spouse is in the ICU with a fractured neck and wrist. Your kids each suffer broken bones and facial lacerations. Both you and your spouse end up needing surgery. Medical expenses for the four of you are more than $350,000. Both you and your wife have been out of work for months. Your lost wages are more than $50,000. Your mortgage goes unpaid; your car loans go unpaid.

The good news is that your basic No-Fault coverage will pay the first $50,000 of medical expenses and lost wages. Even better, since you were smart enough to buy additional NF coverage (APIP), boosting your limits to $100,000, you have a total of $100,000 for your medical expenses and lost wages.

The bad news is that even $100,000 doesn’t begin to cover all your bills. You are still $300,000 short. So you think, “No problem, it’s the drunk driver’s fault, so of course, he will be liable for my expenses.” That’s an excellent thought. Guess what? The drunk only has a minimum liability policy of $25,000/$50,000. So even though he has a horrible driving record, he only has $25/50,000 in coverage, and accordingly, all his insurance company is required to pay is $25/50,000.

So you think, “$25/50,000. That’s just his insurance company, surely I can sue him personally and collect from him for all my injuries and damages.” Better think again. Twenty years of handling accident cases have made one thing clear to me. The folks causing the worst accidents and driving around with minimum policy limits are those who don’t have a penny in the bank, their house is mortgaged to the hilt, and there is a significant loan on their car.

Have you ever heard the phrase “the judgment isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”? Or “you can’t get blood from a stone”? You guessed it, suing the drunk person personally is a waste of time and money.

You are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Or are you?

Remember, you were smart enough to pay for that extra $250,000/$500,000 SUM coverage. Remember, the annual premium for that coverage costs you just a tiny amount more money per month. Well, that was the best money you ever spent. Why?

SUM pays you the difference between the amount of your coverage and the amount of the coverage for the other driver who is “underinsured.”

In our example, you have total SUM coverage of $500,000, and the drunk driver has $50,000 of coverage, so your insurance company must pay you for the full extent of your damages up to $450,000!

SUM coverage saves the day for you and your family!

Contact the Ziff Law Firm today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced, New York personal injury discuss your injury case today. Call (800) 943-3529 or email us at There is no cost for an initial consultation and case evaluation with a member of our experienced legal team, so call us today to get started.