Every Bicyclist Should Have SUM Coverage!
What is SUM coverage?
SUM coverage, known as supplementary underinsured & uninsured motorist coverage is additional insurance that is part of your automobile liability insurance policy. It is used to protect you if a person who strikes and injures you has a low liability insurance limit.
Motorists often fail to carry enough liability insurance coverage.
In New York State, a motorist is only required to carry $25,000 of liability insurance coverage. While many people do carry higher limits, it’s often not enough for a person who is injured by a motorist’s negligence. Thus if a motorist causes a crash and injures someone, the insurance company will only pay up to the amount of insurance carried by that motorist to cover injuries and expenses of the injured party. As a bicycle rider if you are struck by a car that is carrying only $25,000 of insurance, sadly, the injuries, harm and losses you suffer are likely to be far greater than $25,000.
How do I protect myself?
It is crucial to have as much protection as you can if you are out on the roads riding a bike. If you are involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, having the right amount have SUM coverage will protect you in the event of a crash with a vehicle that is carrying a lower limit liability policy. To maximize your SUM coverage you must maximize your liability coverage as you are unable to carry more SUM coverage than liability coverage. In other words you cannot carry a $25,000 liability policy and a $500,000 SUM policy. While this may come at some additional cost, it’s worth it to protect yourself if you are struck by a motorist who has very little insurance.
How does SUM work?
If you are struck by a negligent motorist who has a $25,000 policy, a legal claim will be pursued against that motorist. If your injuries are worth greater than the motorist’s insurance coverage, after settlement or verdict, a separate claim can then be pursued against your own insurance company for your SUM coverage. The maximum amount payable under your own SUM coverage is the policy’s limit reduced by the amount of money that was recovered from the negligent motorist. In other words if you carry $500,000 of SUM coverage and recover $25,000 from the policy of the motorist who struck you, you will then be able to pursue your own SUM policy for $475,000.
Take this precaution if you are a bicyclist.
There are many ways that bicyclists can protect themselves while riding. From having a proper fitting bike, to wearing the right safety equipment and reflective gear, cyclists can be sure they are safe and seen while riding. But unfortunately crashes happen and if it happens to you while riding you need to make sure you are taking all available precautions to protect yourself. So before you take your next ride take a look at the declarations page of your insurance policy and make sure you are carrying the most SUM coverage you can carry. Don’t rely on a motorist to have enough coverage to take care of you if you are involved in a crash. Take the proper steps to protect yourself.
At LaMarche Safranko Law we focus our personal injury practice on representing bicyclists, pedestrians and runners who are injured after being struck by a negligent motorist. We are also part of the Road Sharing Alliance, a resource created to promote a community effort between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to make our roads safer.