NYBC Board Member / Attorney talks bicycle insurance
Submitted by Jim Reed (NYBC Board Member and attorney with Ziff Law)
I was recently asked by another bicyclist for my advice about how much insurance he should have. He wondered whether he should get some bicycle-specific insurance to supplement his SUM insurance.
SUM is short for Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. Here are two great things you should know about SUM:
(1) SUM covers you and your family whether you are injured in your car or on your bike.
(2) Unlike most insurance coverage, SUM costs very little for all the protection it provides.
I personally recommend that all of my cycling friends purchase a minimum of $250,000 of SUM coverage.
I wanted to share the advice I gave the other bicyclist with all of my readers, because I think it will help my fellow riders and their families, who are wondering whether they have enough insurance!
THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: BICYCLE SPECIFIC INSURANCE POLICIES
But let me address this bicyclist’s question about bicycle-specific insurance. Bicycle specific insurance policies are policies that are marketed to and provide coverage for cyclists. These policies can provide coverage for property damage to your bike, medical bills, lost wages and miscellaneous expenses. These policies are designed both for bicyclists who may not have a car or other insurance coverage, or, for those folks who want to supplement their other insurance coverage like auto insurance or health insurance.
To be honest, I don’t know a lot about this type of insurance because it is relatively new and I have only been hearing about it for the last year or two. Furthermore, I have yet to have any of the many bike accident clients I represent actually have this type of insurance so I don’t have any personal or professional experience with these policies.
However, I did go online to review a few of the different bicycle-specific insurance policies I could find. Frankly what I found was disappointing– relatively high premiums for relatively low coverage. For instance, one policy only provided $50 per day for every day you were in the hospital. Heck, if you are in the hospital, $50 is nothing so I view that coverage as virtually worthless. Of course, that was one policy and there may be other policies out there that are better but my little brief sampling of what is available was disappointing. If anyone knows of what they believe is a great bicycle specific policy, please let me know in the comments below as I am always eager to know of insurance products that could help my cycling friends and clients.
My feeling is that the more insurance someone has, the better. So I would never advise against having as much insurance as anyone could afford, and sometimes it is necessary that you have several types of insurance to cover the many different ways you might be injured.
However, I know most folks’ budgets are limited, so with that in mind, we all need to make decisions about the best coverage to buy.
FOR CYCLISTS WITH CARS, SUM IS STILL KING OF THE HILL IN TERMS OF COVERAGE TO BUY
For my money, SUM is far and away the best deal because it provides lots of additional protection for relatively few dollars and it protects you both when driving a car or riding your bike.
I would much rather see people increasing their property damage deductible to save some money so they can apply those dollars to the SUM coverage.
Let’s face it, having to pay $250 to $500 more for property damage is not good, but it’s not nearly as bad as having injuries worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with no coverage.
So my first recommendation is always buy as much SUM coverage as you can afford.
I am not enamored of bicycle-specific insurance policies for a few different reasons:
- First, most of these policies are expensive for the limited coverage they provide.
- Second, most are extremely limited in defining what injuries they cover (i.e., death or total amputation but nothing for the most typical injuries like a fracture).
- And third, some very narrowly define what types of cycling accidents are even covered or have exclusions if there is auto coverage applicable.
Of course, insurance policies are simply contracts, so you always have to read the actual insurance policy to see exactly what it does and does not provide but most of the bicycle-specific policies I have seen to date have serious limitations. Hopefully in the future that will change, but so far I have yet to see a bike policy that I thought was worth buying.
BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CAR…..
However, there is one important caveat for those bikers who do not have a car and therefore can’t buy SUM for themselves: in that case, these bike policies are better than nothing!
Bicyclists in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers, what has been your experience with SUM insurance or specific bicycle policies? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Thanks for reading. Please be careful out there!