I know it seems strange that auto insurance can protect you while you are on your bicycle, but believe me, it really does. To be precise, there are four ways NY auto insurance can protect you if you are struck by an automobile while on your bike.
First, New York’s so-called “No-Fault Law”, a/k/a Mandatory Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) (Article 51 of New York Insurance Law) requires that the insurance on the vehicle that strikes a pedestrian or a bicyclist provide insurance coverage to the injured cyclist/pedestrian up to a maximum of $50,000 in medical expenses and lost income, regardless of whose fault it was.
To benefit from this law, you have to submit a “no-fault application” to the insurance carrier within 30 days of the crash. If you have a good excuse for not complying with this time limit, you can overcome it, but you should make every effort to comply.
Second, if the collision was the motorist’s fault, you can tap into the “liability” (a/k/a “bodily injury”) portion of the car’s policy. This portion of the policy will pay you “pain and suffering” compensation, but only if your injury is serious enough. It will also pay any of your medical bills and lost income that go beyond the no-fault insurance limits regardless of whether your injury was serious enough to entitle you to “pain and suffering” compensation. Unfortunately, the liability coverage limits of the vehicle that struck you might be too small to fully compensate you. The minimum amount in New York is $25,000, and if you have a very serious injury, this amount will fall far short.
Third, your OWN auto insurance might provide you with additional compensation if you are seriously injured. I know that sounds weird because your vehicle was not involved in the collision. But many auto insurance policies have something called “supplemental under-insured motorist” coverage, a/k/a “SUM” coverage. This means that if the car that struck you has less liability insurance than your own car, the SUM coverage in your own policy acts like a super-insurance, giving you the same total benefits as if you were hit by a car with as much insurance as your own policy had. For example, if the car that struck and injured you has only $25,000 in liability (bodily injury) coverage, and your injuries are worth $100,000 or more, and your own car has $100,000 in SUM coverage, then your total liability coverage will be $100,000 ($25,000 from the at-fault vehicle’s policy and then an additional $75,000 from your own policy). That’s why it is important – especially if you are a cyclist – to check your auto insurance policy to make sure you have SUM coverage. If you don’t, get it. It’s really cheap and provides a whole lot more protection for bicyclists.
Fourth and finally, your own car insurance might have additional no-fault type protection called “Additional Personal Injury Protection” (APIP). For example, if your policy has $50,000 in APIP, then once you “exhaust” (spend through) the $50,000 PIP (no-fault) of the car that struck you, your own APIP will kick in and start paying the bills if you continue to need medical care and income replacement (up to the monetary limit of your APIP policy)
The important messages to take from all this are: (1) you should check your insurance policy BEFORE you are ever unlucky enough to have a run in with a car on your bike, and make sure you get the right insurance to protect you (call me at the number below with your auto policy in hand and I’ll go through it with you FOR FREE) and (2) should a vehicle ever strike and injury you while you are on your bike, you should again check your own auto insurance to see what kind of additional benefits (besides those from the insurance for the car that struck you) you can obtain to best compensate you for your injuries and losses.
If you are injured by a car while biking, you are going to need a New York bicycle injury lawyer like me to fight for your rights. The insurance companies (both his and yours) are unlikely to give you everything you deserve without a lawyer standing up for you and navigating the legal issues for you.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.