Insurance Advice For Cyclists
Insurance for cyclists takes on many different shapes and forms. Most types of insurance a cyclist have will protect the rider, but other types of insurance will protect you if you injure someone (like a pedestrian) in a cycling crash.
No Fault Claims
No-Fault is not what it sounds like. No-Fault refers to Art. 51 of the New York Insurance Law. It is a system set up to compensate an injured person whose collision arises out of the "use and operation of a motor vehicle". This can be a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist. If a crash involves a car, truck, or bus, then that vehicle's no-fault coverage will be responsible to pay for all "reasonable and necessary medical expenses" related to the accident, as well as your lost wages. If you are involved in a crash, you need to file a no-fault application within 30 days of the accident with that vehicle's insurance company, or your claim can be denied. Sometimes, that time can be extended for good cause, such as long-term hospitalization or disability.
No-Fault is also known as Mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The endorsement contained in all New York state-issued automobile policies contains four conditions precedent to eligibility for no-fault benefits. The four conditions precedent are: (1) the eligible injured person must provide written notice of the collision to the insurer within 30 days after the accident; (2) the assignee medical provider must submit the bill for medical services to the insurer within 45 days after the services are rendered to the assignor; (3) the eligible injured person must submit to medical examinations by physicians selected by the insurer and (4) the eligible injured person or that person's assignee (medical provider) must submit to examinations under oath (EUOs), as the insurer may reasonably require.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Protection (SUM)
This one is trickier. In New York State, the minimum automobile liability coverage that a car can have is $25,000 per occurrence or $50,000 per incident, which is what we call a 25/50 policy. That means that if a driver has a 25/50 policy, no one person can collect more than $25,000.00, despite the most horrific of injuries.
Taxi cabs and delivery vehicles carry $100,000/$300,000 in coverage. Some people and companies have even more coverage; it all depends upon that individual's policy and the amount of liability coverage they purchased. However, if you are in a very serious bicycle crash, it may not matter what coverage the other person has. $25,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 may not be able to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, damage to your bicycle, or other costs. In this case, we may be able to find other ways to get you the compensation you deserve.
So what is SUM coverage (underinsurance)?
If you own a car, or someone in your household does, and you are involved in a crash where your injuries exceed the coverage of the vehicle that hit you, you can make a claim back against your own auto policy. In fact, this coverage protects anyone who resides in your household, such as a spouse or child. To trigger the coverage in New York, the other vehicle's insurance must be less than your SUM coverage.
So if you are hit by a car with a $25,000 policy and you have $100,000.00 in SUM coverage on your auto policy, you have available to you $75,000.00 in SUM protection. The limits all depend upon what you purchase, but must equal your liability coverage, at least. In New York, once you purchase your liability coverage, which is costly, your SUM endorsement is relatively cheap, especially in consideration of its benefits.
If you cycle in New York, and you can afford it, max out your SUM coverage. I have represented some seriously injured cyclists who could only collect from the defendants' limited policies. If you think you have a SUM claim, contact a lawyer who is familiar with this area of law. They are very tricky claims that not all "personal injury lawyers" know how to handle.
What is uninsured coverage?
Again, if you own a car and you are hit by someone who has NO insurance, you or a member of your household can make a claim against your auto policy's Uninsured Motorist Protection to the full extent of its coverage. The coverage all depends upon what you purchase, and must be equal to the liability coverage of your policy. Everyone in New York State has a mandatory 25/50 in uninsured motorist coverage.
The Motor Vehicle collision Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) was created to pay benefits to automobile collision victims who were injured by uninsured vehicles. Filing a claim through MVAIC is a method to make a recovery if you are involved in an accident 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, involved a stolen vehicle, or the owner did not give the driver permission to use the car (denial of permissive use). It is imperative that you Report the collision with 24 hours, or as soon as reasonably possible, or you may not be able to make an MVIAC claim, especially if it is a "hit and run" collision. If you need to make a MVAIC claim, we highly suggest that you contact a lawyer, as the rules involved in the claims process are highly technical and you need court approval to start a lawsuit against MVIAC.
What if you cause a crash and injure another cyclist or pedestrian? A liability policy will help protect you. The most common form of liability insurance for cyclists is a Home Owners or Renters policy. Most of these policies provide protection for you and members of your household if you are involved in a cycle crash and injure another person. If you are found to responsible for the crash, your Home Owners or Rental Insurance Coverage will defend (hire a lawyer for you) and indemnify for (pay the claim) you. Just recently here in New York, a lawsuit was allowed to proceed in a case where a 4 year old struck an elderly woman, while she was riding on her bike. The court allowed the claim to proceed against the child and her parents.
It appears that thankfully for those parents, their Home Owners or Renters Insurance paid for their lawyer, and will pay any settlement or verdict arising out of the collision. This insurance benefits someone you may have injured, and also protects you if you get sued. For more on Umbrella's Policies, read this great article on Umbrella Coverage, which we recently found in the New York Times.
This page is a brief outline of some of the insurance needs and issues cyclists and bikers in New York may face when involved in a crash. For more information, contact us at (866) 352-6944
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