There is a simple and inexpensive option available on every auto insurance policy that protects you and your family, but many people have never heard of it. It’s so important, that I personally have dedicated my own time to achieving a change in New York State law by joining many of my fellow attorneys on lobbying trips to Albany. I have also written on the subject to raise awareness and pressed our elected officials to take action. I am pleased to say that our voices have been heard and last month New York State passed the Driver and Family Protection Act.
What is the Driver and Family Protection Act?
New York State’s Driver and Family Protection Act requires all insurance policies issued after June 16, 2018 to automatically include SUM coverage, unless you specifically request not to have it. SUM coverage (Supplementary Uninsured or underinsured Motorists coverage), is an optional part of your own insurance policy that protects you in case of an accident with an uninsured driver. In the past, many people were left uncovered simply because they were unaware and therefore did not ask for this inexpensive addition to their auto insurance policy. It is estimated by the IRC (The Insurance Research Council) that a shocking one out of every seven drivers in the United States is uninsured. Without SUM coverage, if you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver and are hurt, you will not be covered by your own policy.
What has changed in my insurance coverage?
The new Driver and Family Protection Act will take effect on June 16, 2018 and requires all new car insurance policies to provide SUM coverage, equal to their own injury liability limit. This means that if you opt for $100,000 injury liability coverage, you will now by default also have $100,000 in SUM coverage, unless you sign an opt-out waiver. Previous Insurance Law only required that this coverage was available, and insurance companies were not required to inform customers of its existence. Keep in mind that the new law will only take effect on new policies issued after June 16 and will not affect pre-existing policies. Now that you know, I recommend that you don’t wait until you renew your policy after June of this year, and instead contact your insurance broker today and ask to add or increase your SUM coverage on your current policy.
This is how it works.
Let’s say you are seriously injured in an automobile accident where the other driver either has no insurance (Case 1), or only carries a $25,000 liability policy (Case 2), you on the other hand have $100,000 injury liability coverage
- Case 1. Your SUM policy will cover all your compensation up to $100,000 coverage.
- Case 2. You will receive the first $25,000 of compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. If that is not enough to compensate you for your injuries, your SUM policy will provide for up to an additional $75,000 in coverage, bringing the total up to your own policy maximum of $100,000.
The new legislation means that if you do not opt-out of the SUM coverage, you now have the reassurance that you can seek compensation from your own insurance company for yourself, your family, and the occupants of your vehicle should they be injured by a driver with no or inadequate insurance, including hit-and-run situations.
Let me be clear that this is not a guarantee that you will receive compensation. Both the other driver’s and your insurance company will likely attempt to minimize your injuries and avoid paying compensation. Be prepared, take a look at 10 insurance company tricks to watch out for when you’ve been injured.
This coverage follows you around
One other important thing to note is that you are not only protected in your own car, but also in any car you may be driving, or traveling in. It also protects you if you are riding a bicycle and even if you are a pedestrian and you are involved in a car accident.
So you and your family will now be covered should you be involved in a serious accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
What to do if you’ve been injured
In any situation where you have been injured, the first and most important thing to do is seek medical assistance. Don’t wait to see if you feel better, let your doctor assess your injuries and make sure you receive the care needed to minimize your pain, suffering and financial loss.
This new law does not guarantee compensation and insurance companies often try to minimize or avoid paying claims. As I mentioned earlier, I have followed the development of this new law very closely and am proud of my efforts to help protect the people of New York. I offer free consultations, so if you believe you may be entitled to compensation for a serious injury, contact me today.