I have been meaning to write some articles that I think will be interesting to cyclists as it concerns their legal rights, however, and I’ve written about this before: easily, the most important thing all cyclists (and for that matter) all motorists can do to protect themselves financially if they get hurt while riding their bike (or car) is INCREASE THEIR UM/UIM (UN/UNDERINSURED) LIMITS.
WHY? Although every motorist is supposed to have automobile insurance, somewhere between ¼ and 1/3 do not. This group of uninsured drivers cause (are at fault) for almost 50% of wrecks. The vast majority of people with low or no insurance coverage are, by and large, judgment proof. That is, even if you get a big judgment against them, you cannot collect it.
Accordingly, when you are hit by an uninsured motorist, whether you are riding your bike, your car, running or walking the dog, the only monetary recovery you are going to be able to make in about 50% of the cases is from your own automobile carrier.
For whatever reasons, many insurance agents sell so called “full-coverage” which means $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury and $25,000/$50,000 UM. What this means is that if you screw up and hurt someone, your insurance company will pay the injured party up to $100k or the injured parties (no matter how many) up to 300k. However, if it is you that is hurt by an uninsured driver, then all you can get is a maximum of 25k (or possibly more depending on the number of cars you have insured, up to a maximum of 3 per policy). You are protecting the rest of the world from your screw-ups at several times the amount that you are protected from the rest of the world’s screw-ups.
The difference in the premium price varies with insurance companies, but is negligible, typically, it will cost you $5 – $20/every 6 months to increase you UM coverage from 25/50 to 100/300.
You may think that this (25/50) sounds like a lot of money – it is not. A stay in ICU, even for a week is likely to cost north of $100,000.00. Although you may have health insurance coverage, hospitals are no longer required to file it with your health insurance. Even if the bill is filed with your health insurance carrier, your health insurance carrier may assert a subrogation claim against you to reimburse it (the health insurance carrier) for what it paid to satisfy the hospital bill. This, of course, does not take into consideration bills from surgeons, radiologists, therapists, co-pays, deductibles, lost wages, diminished income capacity, stress, aggravation, physical pain and the like.
Although as is true with any insurance coverage – the truth is you never want to use it, I cannot overemphasize this enough – take a few minutes, call your insurance agent, and increase your UM coverage so that it is equal to your BI coverage. I strongly recommend that it is at least 100/300; personally, I have 250/500. UM coverage is “stackable,” up to 3 cars per policy, so if you insure 3 cars at 100/300, then you will have 300k available in UM coverage as opposed to the typical situation that I see where only 60k is available.
I would be happy to speak in anyone with more detail about this, but I cannot tell you how many times that people do not learn until after, the wreck that their limits are too low. Please understand that while I am particularly concerned about cyclists, everything I have written is applicable to you when you are a motorist as well.