Although automobile insurance is a legal requirement, there are still approximately 5% of motorists in New York State without any coverage. However, this does not mean that if someone is injured by any of these uninsured vehicles or by a vehicle which had fled the scene following the accident cannot collect money for any damages and pain and suffering incurred. What many people are unaware of, in New York State, in addition to the mandatory “No-Fault” and liability insurance that every automobile owner must purchase, there is what is called Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM/UM). SUM/UM insurance is in place to protect those injured by an uninsured, unidentified, or an underinsured (a vehicle that has policy limits too low to cover the total amount of damages that they caused in the accident). It allows you to collect against on your own policy.
Understanding SUM/UM Insurance
It is important for each person to understand their SUM/UM insurance coverage. Similar to liability coverage, Supplementary Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance in New York must be purchased with a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but everyone has the option to purchase coverage with higher policy limits in order to protect them in the instance that they are involved in an incident and the injuries and damages sustained cost greater than the bodily injury limits of the at-fault vehicle or the at-fault vehicle is uncovered. The amount of each person’s SUM/UM coverage must match at least that of what your liability limits are. Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance can only be used though, if your SUM limits are greater than that of the other vehicle’s liability limits or if the other vehicle is uninsured.
If you are injured by an automobile, consult an attorney as soon as possible. Filing a claim as early as possible is very important as there is a deadline and one can easily miss this and lose any chance to collect and be compensated for their losses.
Importance of Purchasing a Plan with Higher SUM/UM Coverage than the State Minimum
Everyone should be aware of their options when purchasing an insurance plan and often an insurance broker will not inform you of the option and the benefits of having a higher SUM/UM coverage than that of the state minimum and understand that by paying a few more dollars every month, can actually save them money in the event that they are involved in a serious automobile accident.
To protect oneself in the event that you are injured in an automobile accident, it is urged that you purchase a policy with coverage that is greater than that of the minimum $25,000/$50,000 coverage. Why is this so important? You may think that $25,000 sounds like a lot of money, but when you are injured and possibly out of work due to those injuries, that money can run out fairly quickly. Usually having SUM/UM coverage higher than that of the minimum will only cost them a little more per month than what they are already paying. It is in everyone’s best interest in order to safeguard them if they do become injured at the fault of another vehicle. There are a variety of reasons why having high SUM/UM policy limits are important such as:
- Extra protection – Many vehicles are only carrying the minimum liability coverage of $25,000/$50,000 which will not cover the entire amount of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering for someone involved in a serious accident. Having a higher SUM/UM policy can help to bridge this gap and give one the compensation that they deserve.
- A High SUM/UM Policy Can Actually Save Someone Money – SUM/UM insurance coverage costs relatively little for the expansive coverage that it provides. If an individual is seriously injured in a car accident, he or she may be entitled to substantial compensation. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured and the injured party does not have sufficient SUM insurance coverage in their policy, it is likely that they will not receive the compensation that due to them and therefore will be stuck paying expenses out of his or her own pocket. Having enough SUM insurance can help to replace lost wages and benefits that will otherwise not be replaced in a situation where someone is badly injured by an automobile at the fault of another.
What You Need in a SUM/UM Case
- Police report or ambulance report from the scene of the accident within 24 hours of the incident
- Evidence of the automobiles accident (police report, witnesses, photos, etc.)
- Serious injury (significant disfiguration, fracture, miscarriage, permanent loss of use or limitation of a body part, dismemberment, death, etc.)
- SUM policy limits greater than that of the at-fault vehicle or for the at-fault vehicle to be uninsured or unidentified such as in a hit and run case
- Losses must have occurred to the accident
- You must be “insured” on the policy
Injured in a car accident?
At the Law Offices of Gary R. Weinberg, P.C., we help those injured in motor vehicle accidents to receive the compensation that they deserve and make sure to exhaust all possibilities to have you compensated for your losses. We can help clients seek medical treatment and we investigate the accident in order to retrieve evidence in order for you to bring a legal claim. Please contact us for a free consultation.