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You can protect yourself in the event of a serious accident with an uninsured driver

Supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

If you are seriously injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, or a hit and run driver, you could find yourself without any means of obtaining compensation for your injuries.  But there is insurance that can protect you and your family.   Known as supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage  (SUM insurance), it enables you to obtain compensation for your injuries under your own automobile or homeowner or tenant’s insurance policy, in the event that you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.  Under New York law, insurance carriers are required to offer you this coverage.  And there is no question that you should have it.

How it impacts you in the case of an accident

The amount of SUM coverage that you can buy is dictated by your liability coverage limits.  You can and should purchase SUM coverage up to an amount equal to your liability coverage.  In other words, if you have liability coverage in the amount of $100,000, you can buy SUM coverage up to $100,000.  To help you to understand why this insurance is so important, consider the circumstances of our client, Jennifer.  While stopped at a red light, she was hit from behind by another vehicle and was seriously injured.  The other car had liability coverage of $25,000, the bare minimum required in New York.  Jennifer had $100,000 in SUM coverage.  She recovered $25,000 from the car that struck her.  Then, she was able to recover another $75,000 from her own  insurance company  (for a total of $100,000) .  If she had not purchased SUM coverage, she would have been limited to the $25,000 available from the car that struck her, which was insufficient to compensate her the permanent injuries she sustained.

It’s worth it

Fortunately, SUM coverage is relatively inexpensive.  You can’t control what other drivers do, or how much liability coverage they have, but you can do something to protect yourself in the event you are in an accident with a financially irresponsible driver.  If you don’t have this coverage, call your broker immediately and obtain as much of it as you have in liability coverage.  This is especially good advice if your job requires you to have perfect health in order to work and if you are entitled to a pension after 20 years of service.  As an example, we represented a NYC firefighter named Joe.  He was seriously injured in a serious auto accident by a driver who had no liability insurance.  Unfortunately, Joe’s ankle was crushed and he was forced to retire from the FDNY.  His recovery was limited to the $100,000 of SUM coverage that he had on his own insurance policy.  This was simply insufficient to compensate Joe for a permanent and painful injury, not to mention the loss of a career making $100,000+/year and a greatly reduced pension for retiring before his 20th year.  We recommend that you protect your future income and pension by having at least $1million in liability and SUM coverage.

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