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Judge and Gavel
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  • Richard L. Duquette

Bicyclists Need Appropriate Insurance Coverage


Buying strong insurance coverage is a love-hate relationship. I often wonder if it is worth it to spend the money on skyrocketing insurance premiums. I hate giving my hard earned money to Insurance Corporations, only to have them later litigate deserving bicycle injury victim’s cases. I see it all too often.

By contrast, if you are severely injured while bicycling (in a car or jogging) and the careless or hit and run driver is uninsured or underinsured (hereafter referred to as UM/UIM), you face an avoidable financial nightmare. It is one of the risks of riding, driving, or jogging on public roads. The problem is medical care is expensive, and the severely injured (or their families) are often left maimed or dead without a financial cushion.

A solution that many bicyclists are unaware of is to carry strong automobile uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage policy limits, because it will protect you if hit by a car while on your bicycle (in a car or jogging). This seems counter intuitive – that a bicycle injury is covered by your auto insurance carrier. But, it is true. Moreover, your auto insurance policy even extends to injuries you sustain as a pedestrian crossing an intersection (i.e. or if you are jogging on the roadway).

In other words, you don’t have to be in an automobile to recover from your auto insurance policy – you could be riding your bicycle or walking across the street, even if your insurance policy language limits your recovery only to an injury sustained while riding in a car. To hold otherwise is against public policy, because it excludes what is allowed in the CA Insurance Code. Our local Court of Appeal said it best by explaining that, UM/UIM benefits flow to you whether you are “…in a motor vehicle, on a horse, motorcycle, bicycle, or stilts when injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist…” (See CA Insurance Code Section 11580.2).

Should your insurance carrier deny coverage, you may have a bad faith claim against them and right to attorneys fees to enforce your lawful rights guaranteed you when you pay premiums. (See Brandt v. Superior Court (1985) 37 Cal 813.)

So, I recommend you spend a few extra dollars per year and increase your UM/UIM motorist coverage (and medical payments provision) of your automobile policy to$500,000.00, and ideally with a “back up”$1,000,000.00 “umbrella” policy.

In conclusion, I have to admit, when an injured client brings in an insurance policy declaration page outlining strong limits of coverage, I love Insurance Companies – because not only will I get paid if I have to litigate the case, but the injured athlete will often receive a settlement commensurate with their serious injuries – regardless of the careless or hit and run driver’s uninsured or underinsured coverage status.


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