Do you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage? If you don't know the answer, go check your policy right now. Don't wait until you've already had an accident to know what coverage you have. Unfortunately, this is what too many bicyclists and drivers do.
Bellingham bike accident victims may have a very important type of coverage in their insurance policies that can help them get back on track. Yet many cyclists don’t know what this coverage can do. Did you know that if you get hit by an uninsured driver while riding your bike, your own auto policy will pay for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering if you purchased UIM/UM coverage? Most people don't even know what this coverage is or why it's so critical for cyclists.
What is UIM/UM coverage? Uninsured Motorist insurance is a coverage you can purchase on your auto insurance policy that covers you if you're hit by a car while riding and the driver either (i) doesn't have enough insurance to pay for your damages, or (ii) has no insurance. (Even though it is state law for all drivers to carry car insurance, some drivers – typically the worst ones, such as repeat DUI offenders – do not or cannot insure their cars.) This coverage also covers you if you are hit by an uninsured driver while driving, walking or riding as a passenger in another person's vehicle who may not have adequate insurance to cover your damages in case of an auto collision. And even if you're hit by a driver who has insurance, the minimum liability coverage in Washington is only $25,000. A trip the emergency room can cost much more than that, especially if you are badly injured. Further, it is extremely rare for a bicyclist or pedestrian to be hit by a car and need a trip to the ER without sustaining serious and expensive injuries. Those on foot or bike are simply at a much higher risk of severe injury compared to a driver in a car. If you purchased UIM coverage, your own auto insurance will start to pay for your damages after the at-fault driver's liability coverage is exhausted.
It’s not uncommon that people choose to waive this coverage. Washington law requires insurance companies offer it, but there is no requirement to purchase it. Further, nowadays many consumers purchase insurance online, without an agent on hand to explain the importance of UIM. While it may seem like a good decision to cut premium costs and waive the coverage, the choice can make an accident claim much more complicated. If you are catastrophically injured by a hit-and-run driver, an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver, UIM coverage can make a world of difference in your post-collision quality of life.
This coverage is worth every penny, so strongly consider purchasing as much as you can afford. The minimum coverage is $25,000, but you can purchase policies in the millions with "umbrella insurance." Call your agent or do your research online, but make sure you know what you purchased. If you decide not to purchase UIM coverage, just realize that you're trusting the worst drivers on the road to purchase enough insurance to pay for all of your damages if you're hit while riding.
For more: learn about limits to car insurance coverages through Bill Coats Law's Youtube channel.