You may be so severely injured in a car accident that the other driver’s Bodily Injury Liability does not fully cover the losses you’ve endured. This is a scenario that occurs often in New York, which is why it’s so important to understand “SUM” (Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist) Coverage and how it can help you recover for your losses should this be your case.
By New York State Law, every driver must have a minimum $25,000 SUM policy. We believe everyone should purchase over the minimum. This policy protects you in case you are ever in a car accident with an underinsured driver – one whose Bodily Injury Liability does not fully cover your damages. However, your own policy must exceed that of the at-fault driver’s to receive these benefits. Every driver is also mandated to have No-Fault coverage, which you are entitled to no matter who is at-fault for your car accident. No-Fault will cover your medical bills and lost wages up to $50,000. But for severe injuries, that may not be enough. In a car accident case, your personal injury attorney will bring a claim against the at-fault driver and their insurer will be responsible for covering your damages (current/future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering). They will pay a percentage of your damages proportionate to the at-fault party’s percentage of liability in the accident.
However, in many severe cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy may not fully compensate for all of your losses. In this scenario, your personal injury attorney will make a claim against your own insurer to obtain any additional necessary compensation through your SUM policy.
If you choose to pay for the minimum SUM policy ($25,000 – the 25/50 policy), your SUM coverage will exhaust at $25,000 if you are the only individual in your car (or the only injured individual). If there is more than one injured individual in your car, though, coverage will exhaust at $50,000 (which is split amongst you and your passengers). However, this is only if you choose to pay the minimum 25/50 policy.
Insurance adjusters make commission based off of their salaries. Many may not mention how important it is to have a higher SUM policy than the minimum. They want to make their sale, and if they push you to purchase a higher SUM policy you may end up believing it will drastically increase your monthly premium. But if you calculate the annual add-on, it’s really not that bad, and it’s most definitely worth the extra protection. Remember, your liability policy should match your SUM policy and if you have the minimum (and so does the at-fault driver in your accident), you won’t be entitled to this protection. So, it’s in your best interest to consider purchasing a higher SUM policy.