Are you protected from underinsured motorists?
Many people have a gap in their automobile insurance coverage that they are unaware of. Did you know that your own insurance may not cover you for injuries suffered if the other driver is deemed to be at fault?
The minimum liability coverage required by the State of New York is $25,000 per person with a maximum of $50,000 per incident. This means that if you are injured by the negligence of a driver with minimum coverage, his insurance company would only be required to compensate you for a maximum of $25,000 dollars. If there is more than one person injured, then you may not be entitled to the full amount as the insurance company’s total liability is limited to $50,000, to be divided by all injured parties. If your injuries exceed that amount, you retain the right to seek compensation directly from the driver. Unfortunately, even if you win a judgement in your favor, drivers that have only the minimum coverage are unlikely to have enough assets or income to provide the compensation you deserve.
Drivers with the minimum coverage are not your only potential problem. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that 1 out of every 7 drivers in the United States is currently uninsured.
You do have an easy way to make sure you (and your family) never find yourself without protection in case of an accident. It is called Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Coverage (commonly referred to as “SUM”) and it is often overlooked. For an additional premium, often not more than a few dollars, you can purchase SUM coverage for any amount up to the total amount of liability coverage you have purchased on that policy.
SUM coverage does not provide additional insurance for the amount you purchased, instead it guarantees that you will be covered for that total amount. That means that if you purchase SUM coverage in the amount of $100,000 and the at-fault driver has coverage of $25,000, your SUM coverage will provide an additional $75,000 in coverage ($25,000 + $75,000 = $100,000).
You may believe you are already protected due to New York State’s requirement that you carry uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurance. As with liability insurance, New York requires a minimum coverage level of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. UM insurance will cover you in a situation where the other driver has no insurance, but it will only provide you with minimum coverage. Supplemental insurance ensures that you have a greater amount of coverage to protect you in case of serious injuries that exceed the minimum coverage amount.
Many policies will cover you and your family members not only while in your own vehicle, but while driving in someone else’s vehicle or even while walking or riding your bicycle. Before you make a decision, it is important to ask an insurance professional or a representative from your insurance company in order to understand the exact cost and benefits of SUM coverage.
It’s worth a call, I think you’ll find that the cost is much lower than you expect and the additional coverage will give you peace of mind that you and your family will be taken care of in the unfortunate event of a serious injury.