New York State lawmakers and Governor Cuomo just delivered New Yorkers a Christmas present. Today Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) bill, also known as the “Driver and Family Protection Act.” This important piece of legislation will protect New Yorkers statewide who are involved in auto accidents.
I know what you are thinking (if you have even read this far). Supplemental what? SUM what? What the hell are you talking about? Click. I’m out of here . . .
But wait. Don’t surf past this blog post just yet. I promise I will answer these questions: What is SUM, why was it a problem, and how did New York State just fix it? Read on, friend.
Here was the problem: The minimal auto bodily injury insurance allowable in New York pays out a maximum of only $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 collectively for all persons injured through the negligence of the at-fault vehicle owner/driver. And this ridiculously low limit applied against you and your innocent passengers no matter how much bodily injury insurance you purchased on your own vehicle. For example, let’s say you had $500,000 in bodily injury coverage. This bodily injury insurance you purchased would payout big time to people you might have negligently injured with your vehicle, but would not pay you or your passengers a dime for injuries you or they suffer from the negligent driving of others.
Now here’s the solution. There was always a little known, cheap way to protect yourself and your passengers (usually family members) from this situation. You could purchase maximum SUM coverage for your vehicle. SUM stands for “Supplemental Underinsured Motorist”. Maximum SUM brings your SUM coverage up to the same level as your bodily injury insurance.
It works like this: Say you have $500,000 of bodily injury insurance on your vehicle. Purchase the same amount in SUM coverage. If you do, and the negligent driver who injures you or your passengers has only $50,000 in coverage, then your SUM insurance will kick in the additional $450,000 to make the total amount of insurance available to you and your passengers $500,000.
But can you afford that? Actually, you can’t afford NOT to purchase it! Buying SUM is cheap! Only a few extra dollars per premium period. And the protection it provides is enormous.
So why didn’t everyone have maximum SUM? Good question. And that was the problem our New York State legislators and Governor Cuomo just solved. The insurance companies never made much money selling SUM insurance, so they didn’t push it. The insurance industry generally had a “don’t ask, don’t sell” policy, meaning that if the customer did not specifically request SUM coverage, none was offered.
This insurance practice left many car-accident victims teetering on bankruptcy after an accident.
That’s why YESTERDAY GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNED THE DRIVER AND FAMILY PROTECTION ACT. The new law corrects this injustice. This new law requires insurance carriers in New York to automatically provide maximum SUM coverage on all auto policies issued in New York unless the customer affirmatively states he does not want it. And that means that just about everyone will have maximum SUM protection from now on.
Merry Christmas New Yorkers!