Most New York State motorists will now be better protected by their car insurance policies — and they didn’t even have to call their agents, thanks to the lobbying efforts of lawyers across the state, who finally persuaded Albany that it needed to reform the way insurance companies operate in the state. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association was among the leaders fighting for motorists.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Driver and Family Protection Act on Dec. 18, which improves Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage for all motorists. The Senate and Assembly bills are here: S5644B and A8519A.
State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in June to send the legislation to Cuomo’s desk. The Senate voted 62-1 and the Assembly 104-6.
This is why it is important to anyone who travels in a vehicle, not just drivers: the new law helps to protect New Yorkers who are involved in car accidents with drivers who are uninsured or underinsured.
Under the old law, an insured had to specifically request that their SUM policy limits be increased to match their liability limits.
Under the new law, an insured’s policy will automatically match the liability and SUM limits unless the insured specifically waives the increased SUM coverage by signing an opt-out form. (Why would anyone sign the form?)
I have always said SUM coverage is very important because it protects the insured and their family in the event they are involved in a crash with an uninsured/underinsured vehicle.
The automatically matching limits are great news for auto insurance consumers because the SUM coverage is the most critical component of your car insurance policy.
Here’s why: If you have an accident caused by another driver who has no or inadequate insurance, you could end up paying for your own recovery, and your medical bills could be staggering.
If you’re like most drivers, you accept the minimum levels of coverage to keep your costs down. But those low levels can get you in trouble if you have an accident, regardless of whether it was your fault.
Here’s an example: I once met with a local businessman who had $500,000 of liability coverage to protect others should he have an accident, but only the legal state minimum of $25,000 in SUM coverage to protect himself and 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 add additional SUM coverage he needed for less than $10 a month.
I have met too many people who don’t learn about the need for sufficient SUM coverage until it is too late. Don’t be one of those families.
Insurance companies like to keep their customers in the dark. They do a terrible job of educating consumers and are far more interested in profits than helping their customers.
Make reviewing your car insurance policy one of your resolutions in the new year. Do it now, in fact. Make sure your insurance company follows the new law and sets your liability and SUM limits at the same amount.
If you have a question about your car insurance policy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!