California Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Bicyclists
NEVER be without uninsured motorist coverage
With the exception of safe riding habits on the road, uninsured motorist coverage is the single most important thing that you can do for yourself and your family if you are riding a bike on the road. This cannot be understated. Never ride a bike on the road if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage! Uninsured motorist coverage is paramount to protect yourself in the event that you are struck by a car or other vehicle on the road.
We are contacted by several cyclists each month that are struck by automobiles that have sustained injuries. Unfortunately, most of those cyclists are not able to recover money damages or receive adequate compensation for their injuries because they do not have uninsured motorist coverage.
In most cases where a cyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, the motor vehicle insurance provided by the driver does not have enough coverage for the injuries suffered by the cyclist. This means that if you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you will probably not get adequate compensation for the injuries you have suffered from a bike accident.
A large percentage of drivers in California only cover the minimal limits of $15,000. Some drivers do not even carry the minimal limits. That means that there is oftentimes only $15,000 of coverage, if any, available to a cyclist that is hit by a vehicle. Unfortunately, the injuries suffered by most cyclists involved in a motor vehicle accident usually far exceed that $15,000 in coverage. Therefore, if a cyclist has uninsured or underinsured coverage, their own insurance can help pay for their damages and bridge the gap between the coverage that the vehicle has and the actual amount of the value of their injuries.
Why You should have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Assume a bicyclist is struck while someone pulls out of a driveway violating the cyclist’s right of way. Now assume that the bike strikes the vehicle and the cyclist goes over the bars and sustains injuries to their shoulder, ribs and head. That leads to ambulance and hospital bills that total $30,000 and a cyclist with a fractured shoulder/clavicle. A case such as this could be worth between $100,000 and $300,000 depending upon the length of time the cyclist suffers from the injuries. If the driver only carries $15,000 of insurance, that is the limit of the amount of money the cyclist will have covered from this accident from the driver despite the fact that their case is worth far far more. However, a cyclist with uninsured motorist coverage of $500,000 or more, may be fully compensated for their injuries.
We have had several clients that we have unfortunately been unable to help because they have not had adequate uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Those same clients have purchased uninsured/underinsured coverage and had subsequent bike accidents. They have received adequate settlements in their later cases and then very grateful for learning about uninsured underinsured coverage previously.
Lead by Example
Mike Bomberger personally carries several million dollars in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. He understands the risks of riding a bike on the road and the likelihood of needing that type of coverage. Mike has been in the hospital for several days as a result of bike accidents. These injuries incurred several hundred thousand dollars in medical bills. Medical bills add up surprisingly fast. A shoulder injury requiring arthroscopic surgery could add to up $75,000 in medical costs, including physical therapy, which is more than most people would expect.
A life-threatening accident, the type that could leave you paralyzed for the rest of your life. Such an injury can easily add up to $1.5 million in medical costs. This is before the additional ongoing medical costs throughout your life. Such a situation can happen to anyone. Can you personally afford to ride your bicycle on public streets shared by vehicles without UM coverage? Think about it for a minute. If you have a family to provide for with school-age children, you need to have UM coverage.
Look at your own situation. Calculate how much income you would lose over a three-month recovery period if you were unable to work. Keep in mind, the period could be much longer depending on your injuries. How much would your medical expenses be? Emergency/trauma and hospital charges add up very quickly when you have serious injuries from a bicycle accident. What if you don’t have medical coverage? The medical bills and lost income could be catastrophic and ultimately force you into filing bankruptcy.
Loss of Income
Of the injured bicyclists that have consulted us over the years, approximately 70% of them didn’t have UM coverage. There wasn’t a way for us to further help them after the driver’s insurer paid their policy limits. In California, the minimum auto liability insurance requirement is only $15,000 per person. Say you earn $100,000 per year. If you suffer a serious accident you may be out of work for three months. You stand to lose $25,000 in lost wages alone. Add your medical bills on top of that and YOU can’t afford to NOT have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage!
Low Cost for High Coverage
Many people aren’t aware how inexpensive UM coverage is. I recommend that anyone that rides a bike on the road with vehicles gets a minimum of $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage. The premiums for uninsured motorist coverage are very low and the amount of coverage you get for what you pay is extraordinary. Therefore you should purchase the maximum amount of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage that you can afford. It is far and away the most important coverage you can purchase to protect yourself as a bicyclist.
You can get $100,000 in UM coverage for around $3.00 per month. A policy with $300,000 in UM coverage is available for approximately $7.00 per month. Think about it. Increasing your UM coverage costs less than the average fast food meal. We urge you to talk to your automobile insurance broker immediately if you don’t have UM coverage.
You can make multiple claims against your UM policy and your insurer cannot increase the premium. This is because you are not the party at fault.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident and have questions regarding underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, please do not hesitate to contact us as EB Cycling Law.