Ann Groninger of Bike Law North Carolina provides her insights into the value of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for bicyclists.
PLEASE DO THIS RIGHT NOW – 100% MUST HAVE INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR BICYCLISTS
Guest Post by Ann Groninger
For at least the past ten years, in group talks, blogs and social media posts, I have been talking about uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage for North Carolina bicyclists. Recently Bike Law published this very well laid out article written by Bike Law’s Maine attorney, again urging all bicyclists to increase UM and UIM coverage: https://www.bikelaw.com/2016/06/does-auto-insurance-cover-bicycle-accidents/
Yet we don’t seem to be reaching everyone. At least a few times a month we see cases where the driver who caused the crash does not have enough insurance to cover our client’s damages and our client does not have enough underinsured coverage to make up the difference. If the injuries are serious, the financial consequences can be tragic.
Hopefully posting this information on others’ sites will help spread the word. PLEASE TAKE THESE STEPS BEFORE YOU RIDE AGAIN:
- Find your auto insurance declarations page. It should be attached to the front of your policy. If you can’t find it, call your agent to send you a copy;
- Look for UM/UIM coverage. If it says 50/100, that means you have $50,000 to cover you in the event of an injury, $100,000 if more than one covered person is injured in the same crash. However, in North Carolina, you must subtract the at-fault driver’s coverage. So if the driver has the minimum limits of $30,000 and you have $50,000, that gives you an additional $20,000
- Ask yourself, “if I am in a crash and suffer a serious injury (think brain injury, spinal cord injury, anything requiring multiple days of hospitalization and weeks or months out of work) will the amount of MY coverage be enough to cover my damages?” If you think, “well I have health insurance to cover medicals and the driver’s insurance will cover pain and suffering,” think again! Your health insurance may be able to take that $30,000 right out of your pocket.
- Call your insurance agent and tell him/her that you want to increase your UM/UIM coverage to $1,000,000. It will likely cost you an additional $20.00 per month. You do not need to increase your collision coverage (unless you yourself have minimum limits) in order to purchase more UM/UIM. If your insurance agent tells you it can’t be done, switch your insurance company. Most of them will sell you that coverage.
- Read the Maine Bike Law article to find out what other coverage you may need.
- Spread the word to all of your cyclist friends and pester them until they do it!
Attorney Lauri Boxer-Macomber from Maine writes:
While health and disability insurance are important, they are often not enough to comprehensively and fully address all of a person’s or a family’s post-crash losses—which often include lost wages, lost opportunities, permanent impairment, emotional distress, years of pain and suffering, a loss of consortium and other damages. This is why bicyclists may want to think more carefully about their insurance coverage, including their automobile insurance coverage.
As in Maine, what a North Carolina bicyclist may be entitled to in the way of UM/UIM Coverage can often be very complicated and requires interpretation of a combination of your insurance contract, the UM/UIM statute and case law. Further, there are requirements that must be satisfied before you can reach your coverage. Therefore, working with an attorney who not only understands bicycle and personal injury law, but insurance law, is key.
The final word from all of us with Bike Law: “Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your insurance tune up. Just as you wouldn’t ride with worn-out brakes or thin tires, don’t ride without sufficient UM/UIM. Make sure you and your families have the necessary coverage in the event that anything happens to you. Then, after you take care of all of this paperwork, go back to riding safely and joyfully on the road with the energetic passion of a five-year-old on a big wheel and the wisdom of your collective years, knowledge and experiences.”
Ann Groninger is an attorney based in Charlotte who specializes in bicycling cases. She is also an avid cyclist and cycling advocate.