It only takes a split-second to get hit while riding, but the impact of a collision can last a lifetime, leaving you with devastating injuries and mountains of medical bills. As a bicycle accident lawyer, I’ve been the bearer of bad news hundreds of times: the at-fault driver who hit you only has $25,000 in car insurance (or even worse, no auto insurance at all!). This amount often doesn’t even cover an ER visit. But the good news is that this worst-case scenario is entirely preventable.
To protect yourself and your family from negligent, uninsured drivers, you need to purchase Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance. So let’s talk about what UIM insurance is and why it’s the most important insurance you can buy as a cyclist so you don’t get caught in a worst-case scenario.
Protect Yourself from the Worst Drivers on the Road with UIM Insurance
UIM insurance acts as a safety net when you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver who lacks sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. It’s a sad fact that not everyone on the road is adequately insured, and you might be left with a heavy financial burden if you rely solely on the other driver’s insurance. And it seems like the worst drivers on the road are usually the ones who purchase the bare minimum in liability insurance (which is only $25,000 in Washington) or don’t purchase any insurance at all. UIM insurance is the hero coverage that steps in to cover the shortfall in the value of your damages after the at-fault driver’s policy limits have been paid. Whether it’s medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, having UIM insurance can mean the difference between a full recovery and a financial catastrophe.
For example, if you get hit while riding and have $100,000 in damages, but the at-fault driver only had $25,000 in liability coverage, you are stuck with $75,000 in damages. This can be financially devastating. Conversely, if you get hit while riding and have $100,000 in damages and the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in liability coverage, but you purchased $250,000 in UIM coverage, the at-fault driver’s policy will pay the first $25,000, then your UIM policy will pay the remaining $75,000 in damages. Voila – you are fully compensated and not stuck with a pile of debt!!
Peace of Mind for You and Your Family
Traffic collisions are traumatic events, and the last thing you want to worry about is the financial fallout from someone else’s negligence. Adding a high-limit UIM policy to your auto insurance will provide you with peace of mind for you and your family if any of you are involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle collision. The best thing about UIM coverage is that it follows you as a Named Insured on the policy (versus liability insurance that only follows the insured vehicle), so it covers you while you’re riding your bike, riding as a passenger in someone else’s car, walking through a crosswalk as a pedestrian, or driving your own car.
While all insurance companies offer UIM coverage, make sure to check the declarations page of your own policy to confirm you purchased UIM coverage and that you didn’t inadvertently waive it while clicking a box online. I strongly recommend buying a “UIM Bodily Injury Umbrella Policy” if you can afford it. Some companies offer multi-million dollar policies for a very reasonable annual premium increase. And the modest cost of UIM insurance premiums pales in comparison to the financial security it offers in the event you or a family member are catastrophically injured by a distracted driver on the road!
In conclusion, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of purchasing Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance. It’s not just a policy; it’s a lifeline that ensures you’re taken care of if you ever get hit while riding.