Open Letter to Cyclists: Importance of Your Own Auto Insurance Limits and Coverage

Once again because it bears repeating after another horrible auto-bike collision involving some mutual friends. I have recently represented one of our colleagues who was injured in an auto-bike collision and, once again, I was very disappointed after
investigating the available insurance coverage. Fortunately, the at-fault driver had 100/300 policy, which means that any single person involved in the crash could collect up to $100,000. Unfortunately, and as is often the case in auto-bike collisions, my client had substantially more than that in medical bills and lost wages, and will likely have permanent injuries.  Of course, I did some brilliant work and my client will have a decent recovery, but the simple fact remains – the recovery could have been significantly larger and more proportional to his losses if he had the right coverage on his own auto insurance policy. Yes I said his own auto policy, and that is the point of this article.

When you are on your bicycle and are struck by an AUTOMOBILE then you can collect from your own auto insurance policy. There are two ways to do this: either though the Underinsured (UIM) or through the Uninsured (UM) parts of the policy. Now since the law requires that everyone carry a minimum of coverage of 30,000/60,000 the most likely avenue of recovery will be through your Underinsured (UIM) Coverage.

Let me explain a rather simplistic example of how this works.

You get smashed by a car and you call me. I make all the necessary claims against the at-fault driver and their insurance company, and then their insurance company tenders its policy limits (30,000-100,000, whatever they may be). I can then turn to your Underinsurance Coverage as long as it is larger than the liability limits collected and I can demand arbitration. Arbitrations are a much more favorable forum to handle the rest of your claim (faster process/more convenient to actual people, and not just the insurance companies/doesn’t require a jury).

I know some of you are thinking, “Why should I go after my own insurance rather than going after the at-fault driver with limited insurance.” The answer to this question is simple. You can’t get blood from a turnip (most people with limited coverage have limited means). If the person who hits you cannot pay your bills, and they do not have insurance to pay your bills, your insurance can help pay your bills. And that is the reason you purchase insurance, to protect you and those who depend on you.

So what type of coverage do you need? Please keep in mind as I write this that I generally find all insurance companies to be equally difficult when it comes time to pay a claim. But here’s the best advice I have: I recommend a minimum of 100,000/300,000 Collision and Liability Limits with UM and UIM of the same limits WITH an UMBRELLA of at least 1,000,000 tied to your UM/UIM auto policy. It is most IMPORTANT that it is tied to your auto policy as some companies will not allow this. (State Farm is one of these companies, for example).

The reason I recommend 100/300 is because that is generally the minimum required for the Umbrella policy. It would be senseless to have a 250/500 policy and 1,000,000 Umbrella because you can’t recover anymore then with a 100/300 policy (1,000,000.) Also Umbrella policies are relatively inexpensive, like $250.00 every 6 months for 1,000,000 in coverage. This combined with a 100/300 policy is generally much cheaper than a larger limit policy like $250/500 anyway.

So people, please, please, please help us help you by reviewing your policy today because tomorrow it may be too late. If you have any questions you all know me. Just give me a call or come to the back of the peloton and we’ll talk.

I am licensed in both North and South Carolina.

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