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Insurance for Cyclists in Utah
If you ride a bicycle on our Utah roadways, it is extremely important to have the proper car insurance coverage before going on a ride. That’s right, car insurance. Most cyclists do not realize that if they are involved in an automobile versus bicycle accident, their car insurance may cover all damages, including lost wages and pain and suffering. Accordingly, it is important to ensure you have the right car insurance coverage. All too often, cyclists believe they have “full coverage,” only to learn later that that they could have had better coverage and been fully protected after a tragic accident. Since injuries from automobile versus bicycle accidents can be catastrophic or even fatal, it is necessary to review your insurance policy and make sure you understand the coverage you are receiving.
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Liability insurance covers the injuries and damages you may cause to another while in an accident that is your fault. If a driver makes a left-hand turn in front of your bicycle while you are crossing through an intersection, that negligent driver’s liability insurance will be responsible for paying your damages. However, Utah Law only requires that drivers carry a liability coverage minimum limit of $25,000 per person and $65,000 per accident. This means that one person’s claim cannot exceed more than $25,000 and, if two or more people are injured in the same vehicle, their combined claims cannot exceed $65,000. Since the injuries from a bicycle accident can be serious, the at-fault driver’s insurance limits may be insufficient to cover all of your damages. Even worse, the at-fault driver may have allowed his/her insurance to lapse! If an at-fault does not carry insurance, or his/her insurance policy limits have been exhausted, your personal car insurance policy becomes applicable. In order to protect you and your family after a bicycle accident, it is important to have good coverage on your own insurance policy. These types of coverage are discussed below.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or No-Fault Coverage (No-Fault)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and No-Fault Insurance are the same type of insurance coverage. Under Utah state law, every car is required to have PIP insurance that will cover a portion of medical bills and lost wages after a traffic accident. These benefits are available to you whether or not you are at fault for the accident. This law allows you to receive immediate medical attention after your accident without having to wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to accept liability. The law requires you to have at least $3,000 in PIP Coverage, but you may purchase additional coverage of $5,000, $10,000 or even $100,000. If you are not responsible for the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will reimburse your insurance company for any PIP expenses they paid and you will not face increased premiums.
The insurance company for the driver that caused the automobile versus bicycle accident will be responsible for the primary PIP benefits listed above. However, once that PIP coverage is exhausted you can make a secondary PIP claim under your personal auto insurance policy to cover additional medical expenses.
OPTIONAL INSURANCE COVERAGE*
* Although the types of coverage are “optional,” they should be considered as mandatory for every cyclist in Utah! No cyclist in Utah should go for a ride without having these types of coverage in place.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is just as important as liability coverage. It pays for your medical expenses and other damages incurred from an accident where the at-fault driver does not have car insurance. We highly recommend you consider purchasing UM coverage, as it financially protects you and your family from the negligence of uninsured drivers. If you are hit by someone who illegally fails to have insurance on their vehicle, are involved in a hit-and-run accident, or are caused to lay down your bike because of the reckless and inattentive driving of a vehicle that ultimately left the scene of your accident, you will only be compensated for your injuries and damages if you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage.
Once your insurance company compensates you for your damages, your insurance can then pursue the irresponsible driver for reimbursement. At a minimum, you should consider purchasing $100,000/$300,000 uninsured motorist coverage. The cost of purchasing this larger amount of coverage is relatively inexpensive and is essential to have because it protects you from uninsured drivers. If you sustain serious injuries as a result of an uninsured driver, you want the most coverage available to compensate you for pain and suffering and other economic damages like lost wages.
Case Study: We were recently contacted by a cyclist who was seriously injured while crossing through an intersection. He had a green light to go through the intersection, but a car traveling in the opposite direction failed to yield the right-of-way to him and made a left-hand turn in front of him. The cyclist collided with the car and sustained some serious injuries, incurring more than $10,000 in medical bills as a result. Unfortunately, the driver of the car that caused the accident did not have car insurance. The cyclist would have been able to make a claim for his injuries and damages under the UM coverage of his personal auto insurance policy, but sadly, he had declined this coverage when he purchased this policy. So the cyclist ended up paying more than $10,000 for medical bills and other expenses that were the direct result of someone else’s negligence.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
Underinsured motorist coverage is another type of coverage available under your personal car insurance policy. It applies when you are in an accident and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits have been exhausted, but are insufficient to fully compensate you for all the injuries and damages you have sustained. This insurance is available when a cyclist is involved in an accident with an insured vehicle, but the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver is minimal or simply does not reflect the value of the damages sustained by the cyclist.
This coverage is essential to have because it protects you from drivers with the minimum Utah insurance coverage of $25,000. I recommend that you purchase the maximum UIM coverage available!
Case Study: Jack runs a red light and T-bones Jane while on her bicycle. Jane is injured and undergoes neck fusion surgery. Jane’s medical bills total $45,000. Jack’s policy limits are $25,000. Jack’s insurance pays Jane the policy limit of $25,000, and then Jane makes a claim under the underinsured motorist coverage of her own insurance policy for the remaining damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages and the remaining $20,000 in medical bills. If Jane did not have UIM coverage on her car (or her parents’ car if she was still living with them), he would only recover the $25,000 from Jack’s insurance company and would be left paying out of pocket for the remaining medical bills and damages, even though she did nothing wrong.
Note: We strongly urge every cyclist to have at least $100,000 in Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage before getting on a bike, and if you can afford higher coverage, you should purchase $250,000 in coverage. The increased coverage to $250,000 can cost less than an additional $8 a month!