By Megan Hottman, TheCyclist-Lawyer.com
Author: Megan Hottman
Let me preface this article by saying that it PAINS me to send business to insurance companies. They do not need any more premium dollars, they are quite profitable as it is. BUT – for cyclists, it is critical to be sure you are sufficiently insured, in case the unexpected and unfortunate ever occurs.
Right now, go get your auto policy “DEC” page(s). Seriously. I’ll wait. Go get it. This is the page that comes on the front of your policy; it line items your coverage and premiums page per item. Grab the DEC page for each vehicle/scooter/motorcycle you own, as well as those for any “resident-relatives” with whom you share your residence (typically defined as related by blood or marriage).
We are looking for two specific types of coverage that come up in almost every case involving a cyclist injured by a motorist (i.e. there is at least one motor vehicle involved). We are looking for MPC (med pay coverage) and UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured coverage).
I hope you find that on each policy, you do in fact have MPC and UM/UIM coverage. If you do not, please call your agent to discuss your options. Here’s why:
MEDPAY coverage –provides medical benefits coverage in any accident involving a motor vehicle, regardless of fault. It usually costs $2-4 per month, and it provides you $5,000 (typically, though it can be more) in medical benefits. This can cover copays or health insurance deductibles, as well as medical bills from the ambulance or emergency room. Your massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, dry needling bills can all be covered too. Any medical expense you incur from the accident is covered, so long as it is medically necessary and reasonable, up to the policy limits.
UM/UIM coverage – if you are hit by a car while riding your bike and the car drives off (aka, a hit-and-run), your Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in. If you are hit by a motorist with minimal insurance coverage (i.e. $25,000, the minimum coverage required in Colorado) and your damages far exceed those limits, you would first recover policy limits from the driver’s insurance company and then you would pursue a UIM (under-insured) claim with your own auto insurer. This can be critical, as often in cyclist-motorist collisions, the cyclist suffers extensive bodily injury and incurs very high medical bills. As a result of their injuries they may also miss a lot of work. UM/UIM coverage will pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Moments after Megan's crash.
In addition, if you want to increase possible coverage, for these or any other claims you may be filing, you can add an “umbrella” policy to all of your existing policies. To add an additional $1 million in insurance protection will run around $300 per year. This will stack on top of any automobile or homeowner coverage you have on your existing policies. In the event of a catastrophic accident involving a cyclist who incurs permanent and life-altering injuries, these umbrellas can be the difference between getting back on one’s feet financially, and filing bankruptcy resulting from the medical bills.
Call your agent to review your policies and discuss options. Keep in mind it is up to the cyclist (or policyholder) to initiate the above claims with the auto insurer. These claims should be opened as soon after the accident as possible, to prevent any possible denial from the insurer due to delay or failure to provide adequate notice of the accident. If you plan to hire an attorney, let them initiate these claims on your behalf.
One final note: If each vehicle is listed on a separate policy and you pay a separate premium, your policies can be “stacked” pursuant to Colorado law. This means that if you have 3 cars, each with a separate policy and premium, your $5000 MPC coverage may triple to $15,000, for example. Often, insurance companies will include anti-stacking language in their policy. It may or may not valid under Colorado law. A thorough review of your entire policy is often needed to determine coverage applicable to the circumstances.
For more insurance coverage information, please refer back to an earlier article I posted: http://303cycling.com/what-cyclists-should-know-about-insurance