Be sure to check your car insurance policy to be sure you have enough coverage in case you have an accident.

The recent fight between Progressive Insurance and the family of a Progressive customer who was killed in a car accident has drivers everywhere dusting off their insurance policies, wondering whether they have enough insurance.  It is a great question to ask yourself and I generally recommend that most people carry at least $250,000 of both liability AND SUM (under-insured) coverage.

In a recent New York Times Your Money column,“How To Know If You Have Enough Car Insurance,” columnist Ron Lieber looked at drivers’ options from a financial vs. safety standpoint. His question to readers: Do you want to gamble on an inexpensive policy and leave yourself open to staggering bills from a car accident?

To refresh your memory, Matt Fisher, whose sister Katie was killed in a car accident, wrote in a blog post that Katie’s insurance company (Progressive) was defending the other driver in court in hopes of not having to pay a settlement to Katie’s family. The blog post went viral. We wrote about the Fishers’ story here.

Progressive tried to convince a jury that Katie Fisher caused the accident, but it lost and will now have to pay the claim and a settlement.

According to a new report in the Insurance Journal, consumers’ perception of Progressive is at its lowest point in four years after getting rightly trounced in the news media and court of public opinion.

In the Times article, the columnist challenged under-insured drivers to weigh the cost of buying better coverage vs. gambling that they will never have an accident. That’s a dangerous gamble.

Here is how the columnist laid out the options:

“It’s worth looking at a couple of areas where vulnerability can be particularly high: liability insurance (in case you hurt or kill someone else) and the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that was at stake in the Fisher case. Then, we can see what our odds are of needing to make a claim and how comfortable we are making bets accordingly.”

He continues:

“The odds of running into people with no insurance at all to pay for your claims against them are probably higher than you think. The Insurance Research Council’s most recent estimate, from 2009, is that 13.8 percent of all United States drivers have no insurance at all.

“ISO, an insurance risk information service, estimates that about 20 percent of people who do have insurance purchase just the minimum liability coverage in case they hurt someone else. Their policies may pay out as little as $25,000 in many states.”

I know we have written about the need for SUM (Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists) coverage MANY times but I keep beating the drum about the need for EVERYONE to check their car insurance policy to have this very important coverage because every day I continue to encounter folks who don’t have this coverage.

Just last week I met with a very nice and very bright local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only $25,000 to protect himself or his family in that very same accident. Needless to say, he was shocked to learn that his insurance coverage was so deficient but happy to learn that he could buy the SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.

So PLEASE dig out your insurance policy and check your coverage.  If you are unsure if you have the proper types of coverage and the right amounts of coverage, feel free to email me the declaration pages listing your coverages and I will be happy to let you know what I think.  You many email me at  Of course there is no fee for this review– I just want to make sure folks get the coverage they need.

If you find you don’t have enough coverage, contact your insurance company and invest more in your future, if necessary, to protect you and your family in the event of an accident.

For drivers in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — thanks for reading, and stay safe!

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