- Richard L. Duquette
Cyclists: Don’t Skimp on Insurance
BUYING STRONG INSURANCE coverage is a necessary evil. 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, because all too often I see these same organizations litigate deserving bicycle injury victims’ cases.
Still, if you are severely injured by a careless or hit-and-run driver who is uninsured or under insured (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 that 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/under insured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage policy limits, because it will protect you not only in your car, but also if you are hit by a car while on your bicycle or on foot. This seems counter intuitive that a bicycle injury is covered by your auto insurance carrier. But it is true.
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 California 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 under insured motorist."
Should your insurance carrier deny coverage, you may have a bad faith claim against them and a right to attorney fees to enforce your lawful rights guaranteed to you when you pay premiums.
So, I recommend you spend a few extra dollars per year and increase the UM/UIM coverage (and medical payments provision) of your automobile policy to $500,000.00, 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 under insured coverage status.
Ride Safe - Ride Strong!