Why Should All Bicyclists in California Carry Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Not many people know that your auto insurance can cover you if you are involved in a bicycle accident. In California you may add Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage to your auto or motorcycle Liability policy.
The great thing about UM coverage is that it covers you (the insured) if you are involved in an accident as a driver of a vehicle, a bicyclist, pedestrian, skateboarder or passenger in someone else’s vehicle. In other words, UM follows the insured person when in an auto accident and you don’t necessarily have to be in your own vehicle.
How Does UM Coverage work?
An accident can occur with (1) a car that has no insurance at all; (2) a car that doesn’t have enough insurance (the minimum requirement in California is $15,000); or (3) with a hit and run vehicle.
In any of these situations, the bicyclist’s Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage on their automobile or motorcycle policy would cover their injuries and damages over and above the “at fault” driver’s insurance.
Example: You are riding your bike and get hit by a car. You suffer serious injuries, your medical bills are high and you miss time from work. You are entitled to recover these losses plus compensation for pain and suffering. The “at fault” driver that caused the accident carries the minimum of $15,000 but you carry $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist coverage on your own auto policy. You can first recover the $15,000 from the third party’s insurance, then submit a claim under your Uninsured Motorist policy for the remaining $85,000. ($100k – $15k = $85k because your UM carrier gets a credit for the amount paid by the third party insurance). The key is that you must have more UM coverage than the “at fault” driver’s limits. In this example, if your UM coverage is only $15K, then you have no basis for asserting a UM claim since the policies can’t be stacked.
How Much UM Coverage Should You Carry on Your Auto or Motorcycle Policy?
Your UM limits should be equal to your liability limits because this may be your only source of compensation in the event of an accident with an uninsured motorist or hit and run vehicle. A person does not even need to own a car to have UM insurance, as long as they are listed as an additional insured under the auto policy of a spouse or other household member and that policy provides UM coverage. Making a UM claim does not increase the bicyclist’s auto insurance premiums since UM coverage is based on the fault of the other driver.
Contact Vivian Yochelson for more information about UM Coverage 818-345-9050
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