WHAT IF I AM INVOLVED IN A “HIT AND RUN” CRASH OR COLLISION
WITH AN UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED VEHICLE?
January 12, 2015 /
Wheels of Justice
Photo courtesy of Jim Reed, Ziff Law Firm
All too often our offices are called upon to handle a crash where the cyclist
was involved in a “hit and run” collision – one where
the driver and owner of the car was never identified.
Another common scenario involves a serious crash where the offending vehicle
and driver were
underinsured; meaning that the coverage of the vehicle was insufficient to compensate
our client for the severity of the injury. In an even worse scenario,
the offending vehicle fails to have insurance at all.
Lack of sufficient insurance may affect you if you participate in group
rides. Sadly, it is not uncommon to hear of crashes when a vehicle strikes
multiple riders in a peloton. In that circumstance, one insurance policy
may be called upon to cover multiple injuries. If that driver has the
minimum coverage allowed in New York ($25,000 for one injured party and
a maximum of $50,000 for all injured parties) that one auto policy may
not be enough coverage for those who were injured. What can you do to
protect yourself and your family if this occurs? This article will teach
you how your
own auto policy can protect you and your family if this occurs.
What is SUM Coverage
SUM coverage is also known as underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.
It is mandatory in New York; it is separate and apart from your liability
and no-fault coverage. By law, everyone who purchases insurance for a
vehicle in New York has available to them uninsured coverage in the amount
of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per occurrence. However, for most
people involved in a serious crash this coverage is just not enough. Your
policy may allow you to purchase additional coverage, and the cost of
this additional protection is minimal. The law currently requires that
your SUM coverage be equal to your liability limits.
Whether you are a cyclist, pedestrian, driver or even a passenger, this
coverage will protect you and your family.The difference in these coverages
is explained below.
Uninsured Motorist Protection
Uninsured Motorist Protection is when the offending vehicle is:
- Uninsured – vehicle simply has no coverage at all
- Vehicle is insured, but coverage for the crash denied due to a disclaimer
- You are involved in a “hit and run” crash where vehicle is
Most policies required reporting the crash to police within 24 hours of
the occurrence. This is why we always advise you to call the police after
a crash! You may not know the car has no coverage until it’s too late.
Underinsured Motorist Protection
- The vehicle is insured, but there is not enough coverage to compensate
you or your family member for the crash
- If you have sufficient SUM coverage, you can make a claim against your
own policy for the additional damage
- By example: The offending vehicle has $25K in coverage – the minimum
allowable in NYS.
- You Have $100K SUM coverage
- After collecting the $25,000 from the other vehicle, you would have available
to you $75,000 to compensate you for your injury
If you didn’t have 100K in SUM coverage, the most insurance available
to you would only be $25,000.00, despite the severity of your injury.
There is no limit to the amount of SUM coverage you can buy, it just must
be consistent with your liability coverage on your car.
Have you check
your own Auto Policy for SUM coverage?
Today! Right Now! Check your insurance policy!
Photo courtesy of Victomlawyer.com
You need to check your auto insurance policy and verify your coverage.
DO NOT rely solely upon your broker or insurance company salesperson to
confirm you are covered. After purchasing sufficient liability coverage,
the cost for increased SUM is not expensive. Don’t let your broker
or sales representative talk you out of it
Currently in New York, despite passing in both houses, the Governor recently
vetoed a bill that created mandatory SUM coverage equal to the policyholder’s
liability. The policyholder would affirmatively have to opt out of the
coverage if they so choose to do so. As the law currently stands, this
additional coverage is not automatic and it is incumbent upon you to verify.
This article would not be complete without a discussion about MVAIC. MVAIC
is the last resort. If you own a car, and have proper SUM coverage, you
will never need to make a claim. MVAIC is difficult to navigate and the
process is tedious even for a seasoned attorney. Even if successful, your
recovery at the end is limited.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) was created
to pay benefits to the automobile crash victims, pedestrians, or cyclists
who were injured by an uninsured vehicle. MVIAC provides both no-fault
benefits up to $50,000.00, as well as the available coverage for up to
$25,000.00 per person injured in a crash.
Filing a claim through MVAIC is a method to make a recovery if you are
involved in a crash and neither you, nor anyone in your household owned
a vehicle at the time. MVAIC also applies if coverage is denied or disclaimed,
the accident was a hit and run, it involved a stolen vehicle, or the owner
did not give driver permission to use the car (denial of permissive use).
The requirements for MVAIC benefits are:
- You were involved in a motor vehicle crash in New York.
You were a resident of New York when the crash occurred. Under special
circumstances, residents of other states may be eligible for MVAIC benefits.
If you were not a resident of New York when the accident occurred, and
you have questions pertaining to eligibility, please contact MVAIC by
phone at (646)205-7800, or via email at
- You have no other automobile insurance available to you. If you or any
of your household relatives own an insured motor vehicle, you will be
required to file a claim with that insurance company to see if you are
covered under that policy for benefits.
- You were NOT the owner of the uninsured vehicle that was involved in the crash.
- You were NOT the spouse of the owner of the uninsured vehicle, or a passenger
in that uninsured vehicle.
- Additionally, there are time frame requirements that must be adhered to.
If these timeframes are not met, your eligibility could be affected.
Again, if you have proper SUM coverage with your own car, you will never
need to file a MVAIC claim.
As always, if you have any questions about this coverage and how it applies
in a bike, pedestrian or other auto crash case, please feel free to call
or e-mail us. We are also happy to review your auto coverage with you
and discuss your current coverage. Just scan and send us your Declaration
Sheet, the page that shows you coverage, and we call you to discuss.
About “Wheels of Justice”
These are some of our guidelines on what to do if you are involved in a
Bike or Bike Share crash or accident. They are provided by Daniel Flanzig Esq. of
NewYorkBikeLawyers.com (Flanzig and Flanzig, LLP) and Jim Reed, Esq. of
Zifflaw.com. We are New York Attorneys focusing in the rights and protection of cyclists
across New York. Nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice
nor does the use of this page or column create an attorney/client relationship.
The advice on this page offers a general overview of the laws in New York.
Remember, every incident or claim is specific, and the guidelines may
not be applicable to your particular case. As always, we suggest contacting
an attorney with any legal claim or issue before taking action on your