November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
Thank you so much for your tip on raising the uninsured motorist coverage on my auto liability policy. Looks like $500,000 per person & $1,000,000 per accident will only cost me $100 per year…probably the most prudent cycling-related decision I’ve ever made! Now I can relax while I’m drinking coffee and talking about how fast I used to be, and if an uninsured or under-insured motorist plows thru the coffee shop, I’ll be covered! Thank you Wankmeister!
Congratulations on bucking the norm for cyclists–i.e. you actually made a smart decision, and more incredibly, it had to do with cycling, and (almost) unbelievably, it potentially benefits your wife and kids. To recap: 85% of drivers in California only carry the minimum liability insurance, which is $15,000. This means that when some drunk chick coming back from an all-nighter in Redondo runs you over on Sunday morning–yes, that’s the horrific, infamous case we all know about–you are only able to recover $15k. This barely pays for the first couple of hours you’ll spend eating through a tube. The remaining 262,800 hours left, assuming you live another 30 years, you’ll be S.O.L. “UM” coverage is the insurance tacked onto your policy that covers you when someone hits you with insufficient coverage, as in the above example. And although some insurance agents will swear otherwise, your uninsured motorist coverage, at least in California, covers you if you’re on the bike, or you’re a pedestrian and you get whacked by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Guess what? It happens all the time: biker gets hit, has lots of medical bills, and the offending driver is only on the hook for the first $15k. The remainder? Comes out of the biker’s pocket or the biker winds up in bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills. The great news, as Yusta Befit points out above, is that you can jack your UM coverage up to very high levels for only a few bucks. Considering all the useless bike crap you spend money on in a year, this is the bargain of all bargains. Imagine how happy your significant other will be when you smile up at him/her through a full-body cast and say, “Don’t worry, honey, we’re covered!”
February 3, 2011 § 6 Comments
One of our tried and true South Bay cycling veterans got hit by a car yesterday in Santa Monica. Our guy had stopped at the red light, put his foot down, and waited for green. He got the signal and began making a left hand turn. Idiot motorist apparently blew through a red light and hit him head on. Our guy has a fractured C5, lacerations and stitches on his leg, a bike in ten thousand pieces, and a long, brutal road to recovery ahead.
Idiot motorist probably has a few scratches on the hood of his wagon and perhaps some pangs of guilt. But the real question is, does he have insurance? Our guy is going to have a mountain of medical bills and lots of missed work.
This accident brings onto the stage a grisly drum I’ve been beating for the last year now. Below is a reprint from a short article I posted on the Big Orange Cycling Yahoo newsgroup. Please read it and take action. The ass you save is going to be your own.
How to save your ass when the motorist who runs you over is also an uninsured or underinsured deadbeat shitforbrains
At my office we’ve taken in a number of bike-car accidents in the last year, everything from trashed bikes to people who are never going to walk properly again to people whose last action on this earth was pedaling a bicycle. What follows is some advice that I hope you’ll heed.
Most people think that if they’re in a bike-car collision, they’ll be able to recover money from the driver as long as the driver is insured. What you may not know is that in California, the minimal insurance coverage for accident liability is $15,000. What you also may not know is that 85% of the drivers on the road have this minimal coverage. This means that their insurance company is on the hook for $15k, and that’s it.
To put it in perspective, the money you can recoup from the careless idiot who took you out while sexting his girlfriend a “Brett Favre” evaporated on the life flight trip to the hospital, and once your expenses exceed the $15k that most drivers carry, you’re done. That’s the bad news, and it’s very, very real. Imagine how hard it is as a lawyer to tell someone who’s been trashed for life that their recovery won’t pay for their first day of medical care…then imagine how hard it is for the victim who has to actually live through it.
There is, however, a very cheap and very effective way to protect yourself and your family. It’s called uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage, and it comes standard with almost every auto insurance policy. Many cyclists are unaware that this coverage on their own auto liability policy even exists, and many more are unaware that it covers them in a bike-car collision when they’re not even in the car.
This means that when idiot’s policy tops out at $15k, you have the legal right to turn to your own insurance company for the remainder. So far, so good, but there’s a catch: most UM coverage is also minimal, often only $15 or $25k, which is hardly enough to make you whole when you suffer significant injuries.
Unlike most insurance stories, though, this one has a very, very happy ending if you’re proactive about it, because you can increase your UM coverage to very high levels for only a tiny increase in your monthly premium. Although your UM coverage is generally barred from exceeding your liability coverage, if you have $500k worth of liability you can bump up your UM from $25k to $500k for only a few bucks.
For the sake of yourself and your family, take a minute to look at the face page of your insurance policy, check the UM coverage, and then call your agent to ratchet that sucker up to the max. With the spate of deaths and serious injuries occurring in our midst this past year, this is something you can’t afford to put off.
The other benefit to turning to your UM coverage in the event of an accident is that if you’re forced to use it you actually wind up with a larger recovery than you would if you were making a claim against a driver with adequate coverage.