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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.
Car accidents happen every day. In most cases, No-Fault insurance is your primary resource for medical expenses and lost wages. With a personal injury attorney representing you, you may also be able to recover for the pain and suffering and any medical bills and lost wages not covered by No-Fault. Unfortunately, in some cases, the at-fault party may not have insurance or have inadequate insurance. On average, 1 in every 8 drivers is uninsured. And many simply don’t have an insurance policy that is large enough to cover your damages. A serious injury in this case can leave your financial status in shambles. But there are ways to recover additional compensation.
We’ve discussed how important UM/UIM coverage is in a previous article. If the at-fault driver in your accident has no insurance or has an insurance policy that will not fully cover your damages, you can then make a claim against your own insurance company for compensation through your UM/UIM coverage (Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage). By New York State law, it is required that all auto insurance policies have a minimum Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage of $25,000. Many insurance brokers may not discuss how important additional UM/UIM coverage is because they don’t want to lose commission on a sale. They may feel that their clients simply don’t understand what UM/UIM coverage is, and so they don’t want to explain why they should factor in more than the state’s required minimum into their premium. But in reality, your monthly premium won’t become that much higher. And it will protect you and/or your family should you ever find yourself in either of these scenarios. It’s worth it to consider purchasing additional UM/UIM for extra protection. However, you will likely require a personal injury attorney to ensure you receive the benefits you’re entitled to from your UM/UIM coverage.
Your insurance company will try to downplay your injury or place liability on your end in order to pay out less compensation. Just because they are your insurance company, and you pay them for UM/UIM coverage, does not mean they’re on your side. In the instance that you must recover from your UM/UIM coverage, an insurance adjuster will likely call or approach you to ask you questions regarding both your injuries and your accident. They’re trained to elicit information that may be damaging to your case. They may then use these answers against you in order to downplay your claim. It’s better you don’t answer any questions and simply refer them directly to your personal injury attorney.
Your insurance carrier will essentially act as a defendant in this type of scenario, attempting to abate or fully deny the compensation you’re entitled to. Your personal injury attorney will protect your claim and resolve this dispute in arbitration. This is why it’s so crucial to retain a personal injury attorney if you’re ever in an accident with an individual who is uninsured or underinsured.