Right now, go get your auto policy “DEC” page(s). Seriously. I’ll wait. Go get it. This is the “declarations” page that comes on the front of your policy; it line-items your coverage and premiums paid per item. Grab the DEC page for every vehicle/scooter/motorcycle you own, as well as those for any “resident-relatives” with whom you share your residence (typically defined as related by blood or marriage).
We are looking for two specific types of coverage that come up in almost every case involving a cyclist injured by a motorist (i.e. there is at least one motor vehicle involved). We are looking for (1) MPC (med pay coverage) and (2) UM/UIM (uninsured/underinsured coverage).
I hope you find that on each policy, you do in fact have MPC and UM/UIM coverage. If you do not, please call your agent to discuss your options. Here’s why:
MEDPAY coverage –provides medical benefits coverage in any crash involving a motor vehicle, regardless of fault. It usually costs $2-4 per month, and it provides you $5,000 (typically, though it can be more) in medical benefits. This can cover copays or health insurance deductibles, as well as medical bills from the ambulance or emergency room. Your massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, dry needling bills can all be covered too. Any medical expense you incur from the accident is covered, so long as it is medically necessary and reasonable, up to the policy limits.
UM/UIM coverage – if you are hit by a car while riding your bike and the car drives off (aka, a hit-and-run), your Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in. If you are hit by a motorist with minimal insurance coverage (i.e. $25,000, the minimum coverage required in Colorado) and your damages far exceed those limits, you would first recover policy limits from the driver’s insurance company and then you would pursue a UIM (under-insured) claim with your own auto insurer. This can be critical, as often in cyclist-motorist collisions, the cyclist suffers extensive bodily injury and incurs very high medical bills. As a result of their injuries they may also miss a lot of work. UM/UIM coverage will pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
In addition, if you want to increase possible coverage, for these or any other claims you may be filing, you can add an “umbrella” policy to all of your existing policies. To add an additional $1 million in insurance protection will run around $300 per year. This will stack on top of any automobile or homeowner coverage you have on your existing policies. In the event of a catastrophic crash involving a cyclist who incurs permanent and life-altering injuries, these umbrellas can be the difference between getting back on one’s feet financially, and filing bankruptcy resulting from the medical bills.
Call your agent to review your policies and discuss options. Keep in mind it is up to the cyclist (or policyholder) to initiate the above claims with the auto insurer. These claims should be opened as soon after the crash as possible, to prevent any possible denial from the insurer due to delay or failure to provide adequate notice of the accident. If you plan to hire an attorney, let them initiate these claims on your behalf.
One final note: If each vehicle is listed on a separate policy and you pay a separate premium, your policies can be “stacked” pursuant to Colorado law. This means that if you have 3 cars, each with a separate policy and premium, your $5000 MPC coverage may triple to $15,000, for example. Often, insurance companies will include anti-stacking language in their policy. It may or may not valid under Colorado law. A thorough review of your entire policy is often needed to determine coverage applicable to the circumstances.
What if you don’t own a car?
-make sure your health insurance is really good, with very low deductibles (and that you’ve got the deductible amount saved up in a rainy day fund and/or max out your HSA contribution each year);
-If a resident relative situation may be possible (you live with someone you’re related to by blood or marriage and THEY own a car), find out what their limits are.
-Consider “accident” insurance that does not require automobile ownership (for example, Aflac Accident Insurance).
For more insurance coverage information, please refer back to an earlier article I posted: http://303cycling.com/what-cyclists-should-know-about-insurance