How to Protect Yourself BEFORE a Bicycle Accident
For cyclists, this week served as yet another painful reminder of the vulnerability that we face every time we roll out onto the roadway and the catastrophic harm that can be caused for ourselves and our families. While I trust most cyclists are careful, it is the distracted driver, the impatient driver, or the drunk driver that we have to worry about. Their actions (and reactions) are completely out of our hands.
I previously posted an article titled “What to do if You’re Involved in a Bicycle Accident” which you should check out first. What that article does not address is the steps you should take before an accident happens to protect yourself and your family afterwards. In other words, buy as much insurance as you can reasonably afford. While this is not a comprehensive discussion on the issue of insurance, or the available types, here are a few types of insurance that you should absolutely have if you’re a cyclist:
- Life Insurance: Kalamazoo, MI. West Baltimore, MD. Brooklyn, NY. Brecksville, OH. The list can go on. Purchasing a life insurance policy will provide your family some semblance of financial security in the event tragedy strikes and will compensate, at least for a time, the shortfall of income resulting from your loss.
- Disability Insurance: It is not difficult to understand that, even if you are fortunate enough to survive a bicycle accident, your injuries may be catastrophic and leave you disabled. If you are no longer able to work and earn an income to support your family, disability insurance will help you stay afloat by providing monthly payments during the period as set forth in the policy. A short-term policy usually is for payments less than one year whereas a long-term policy can vary but may be as long as until you reach a retirement age.
Life insurance and disability insurance are two types of policies that are wise to have as they provide financial support for injuries that go beyond a bicycle accident (i.e. major health issue or some other type of injury) and, more likely than not, have no relation to fault for the injury.
For a motorist in Ohio, the law requires that they have at least $25,000/$50,000 in coverage. This means that the policy limit per individual is $25,000 and the policy limit per occurrence is $50,000. For example, even if your damages exceed $25,000, the insurance company is only required to pay $25,000 leaving you holding the bag for the rest. What if a motorist plows into a pack of cyclists? Splitting up $50,000 among all injured parties would be woefully inadequate to compensate them for their injuries. Worse yet, what if the motorist has no coverage at all.
One way to protect yourself is to insure that you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) on your own auto policy. DO NOT remove it to save a few dollars on your monthly premium. Here’s how it works:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): UM coverage comes into play if the motorist does not have any insurance at all. Unfortunately, this is all too common. In this event, you can make a claim against your own insurance policy for your damages. If you purchased a $100,000 UM/UIM policy, this means you can recover up to $100,000.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): UIM coverage comes into play if the motorist does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. Let’s assume that a motorist’s policy is $25,000/$50,000. You have a $100,000 UM/UIM policy. In this case, you will be able to recover up to the difference between the two policies under your UIM policy (i.e. $25K from driver and $75K from UIM). If your UIM coverage equals the motorist’s coverage (i.e. both 100K policies) you cannot claim UIM coverage. A NOTE OF CAUTION: If the motorist’s carrier tenders the policy limits and you accept without notifying your UIM carrier, you may very well foreclose your claim for UIM coverage. As such, it is important to read your policy and consult with an attorney before making such decision.
Finally, if you own a home, consider purchasing an umbrella policy to go along with your home and auto insurance. Most policies provide a minimum of $1,000,000 in coverage and do not cost more than a replacement tube per month.
If you have sustained an injury in a bicycle accident, please contact Scott for a no cost, no obligation consultation and case evaluation.