Most New York car owners know how much they pay for auto insurance, but few have a true understanding of their various coverages until an accident occurs. Motorists might assume that when they purchase $250,000 in liability protection, it covers injuries to themselves as well someone who is hurt in the other car. This isn’t true. Liability coverage addresses only harm to the other party. If you’ve been injured by someone who lacks sufficient insurance to compensate you fully, you could have a severe problem.
Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) insurance coverage is meant to reimburse you in such cases. However, many people did not exercise the option to purchase this protection. To give car owners a better chance to safeguard themselves, the Driver and Family Protection Act, signed into law by Governor Cuomo in late 2017, adjusted the rules on SUM coverage. To make a smart choice, it’s important to understand these changes:
- SUM is now the standard — Previously, New York vehicle owners had to opt in expressly to secure SUM coverage. Many people were discouraged from doing this due to the additional cost. Now, however, SUM is included in the standard insurance policy and an applicant must opt out to drop it.
- Coverage amounts set —New car insurance policies issued on or after June 16, 2018 are required to include SUM coverage that is equal to the amount of liability coverage. Though you can reduce SUM to the statutory minimum for liability coverage.
New York is a no-fault auto insurance state, so many claims are handled exclusively through a driver’s own carrier. However, when serious injuries occur, the kind that might run up six- or seven-figure medical bills, the at-fault driver can be held liable. Since it is estimated that one out of eight drivers lacks insurance, it is prudent to maintain SUM coverage to guard against such an eventuality.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver, a knowledgeable New York auto accident lawyer can analyze each relevant policy and outline your options.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson represents victims of car crashes and other personal injury plaintiffs throughout the New York City area. Please call us at [ln::phone] or contact us online for a free initial consultation regarding a potential auto accident claim.