Huh, what do you mean it’s the most important insurance I do NOT have? If it’s important wouldn’t my insurance agent have encouraged me to buy it?
Sad to say…. probably not. As someone who reviews auto insurance policies every day, I am constantly amazed at how few people have this very important coverage.
So what the heck is this coverage? S.U.M. It stands for Supplementary Underinsured/Uninsured Motorists coverage. SUM provides coverage from YOUR insurance company to protect YOU (and your passengers) in the event that the other driver is driving illegally without any insurance (Uninsured) or driving with policy limits that are not high enough to cover your damages (Underinsured).
Why is SUM coverage important? Well, first of all SUM is important because NY only requires drivers to carry minimum liability coverage limits of $25,000/$50,000.
What does this mean? It means that if another driver crashes into you, the most his insurance company will be required to pay any one person injured in the crash is $25,000 and the most they would be required to pay for all persons injured in the crash is $50,000.
Of course, people can purchase more than the minimum liability limits of $25,000 (and I strongly recommend that my clients do so for the reasons discussed below), my twenty years representing folks hurt in car crashes have taught me one tough but important lesson: the worst drivers carry the least insurance!! That’s right, the people who have had several bad accidents because they drive too fast all the time, the person who has two previous DWI’s, the nineteen year old driving his souped-up car….Those are the folks who cause most accidents. And those are the folks who invariably carry the minimum limits. And sadly, there is no law that says the worst drivers should have to carry more insurance to protect the rest of us….
So, if a drunk driver with minimum liability insurance smashes into your car while you are driving with your spouse and two kids, and all four of you receive horrible injuries, the absolute maximum the drunk’s insurance company would have to pay your entire family is $50,000. So you can’t go back to work, you have monstrous medical expenses for your entire family and all they have to pay is $50,000…..
And for those who think $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, trust me; $50,000 is NOTHING when you are not working. $50,000 is NOTHING when one day in the ICU can cost $18,000 (not an exaggeration-one of my clients recently received an $18,000 bill for one day!).
SO IF THE OTHER DRIVER’S LIABILITY INSURANCE ISN’T GOING TO PROTECT YOU, YOU BETTER MAKE SURE YOUR OWN INSURANCE IS GOING TO PROTECT YOU!!
That’s where SUM comes in! For a comparatively small premium (usually just $50-$100 per year), you can purchase SUM coverage from your own insurance company up to the amount of liability insurance coverage you carry on your vehicle. For instance, if you carry $300,000 in liability insurance to protect the other guy, you can purchase $300,000 of SUM coverage to protect you and your family. That means if you get hit by a car that only has $25,000 of liability coverage, you can get an additional $275,000 from your own company! Not bad for a few extra $ a month…..
I know this is complicated to digest in a blog post so I wrote a small book on this subject that I am happy to provide free to my readers. You can sign up for me to send you the book here.
Thanks for reading and feel free to post a Comment if you have any questions about SUM as I truly believe this is very important coverage for EVERYONE to have to protect yourself and your family.