By Ken Christensen and Russ Hymas — You have probably heard us say it before, but since the weather is improving and a new cycling season is upon us, it’s important that we say it again – every cyclist needs really good car insurance coverage!
As a cyclist, your worst fear is being struck by a car while you’re out on the road. You might do everything right, follow every law, and a careless driver can still plow into you. And if you don’t have the right type of car insurance coverage, you could end up paying for an accident you didn’t cause. As bicycle accident attorneys, we see this unfortunate situation far too often. That’s why it is critical that every cyclist understands how their own car insurance can protect them from serious financial harm after a wreck.
Damages from a collision can include past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, inability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed, and damage to your bike and gear. You can quickly find yourself in the hole or rack up serious debt if all these expenses fall on you after an accident.
The best way to prevent or eliminate these debts is through car insurance. The first line of defense is the car insurance for the driver that hit you. The at-fault driver’s car insurance company is required to pay for the damages caused by the collision, but only up to their insured’s policy limits. This means you should never rely solely on the other driver’s car insurance, because that driver might have insufficient insurance coverage – or worse, no coverage at all. In Utah, drivers are only required to carry $25,000 in liability insurance, and the injuries and damages from a bike vs car collision can easily exceed those low policy limits. That’s why you need to have at least $100,000 (and we’d recommend $250,000 if possible) in Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage. Note: For other states, please check your state code for requirements.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is available to help cover your damages when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any car insurance at all. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is available when the at-fault driver is underinsured – meaning you received the driver’s full liability limits but still have damages outstanding. You can then claim the remaining value of your damages through your own car insurance policy. Raising your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to $100,000 or $250,000 will likely cost less than an additional $10 a month, and it’s more than worth it to ensure you are protected in the event of a car vs. bike wreck.
Now what happens if you’re not in a collision with a car, but your bike is stolen or wrecked? In that case, you can make a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance claim. Some insurance companies require you to pay extra or add a rider provision to your homeowner’s policy to cover your bike – others do not. We recommend choosing an insurance company who will cover the full value of your bike without requiring a rider. In either of these scenarios, you will have to pay your deductible before the insurance pays out, so you’ll want to decide whether that deductible should be $500 or $1,000.
We are passionate about protecting cyclists and making sure that they have the right insurance coverage. Send us your car and home insurance declaration pages. We will review your coverage for free. We will also send you a free UtahBicycleLawyers.com cycling headband – the most important items in our summer cycling bags. You can email your declaration pages to [email protected] and we will make sure they are reviewed and that your sweatband is mailed out.