How Does My Auto Insurance Cover Me in a Bike Accident?
Under your personal auto insurance, there are two coverages that can help if you’ve been hit by a car while riding your bicycle. They are Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”). For these coverages to apply, you don’t have to be in your car, you just have to be hit by a car.
UM Coverage: UM coverage is the most important coverage for a cyclist to have. This is because the probability of severe personal injuries is far greater for cyclists hit by cars than when two cars collide. Added to that is the likelihood that the person that hit you might not have enough coverage to pay for your damages, or even worse, has none.
This is why, as a cyclist, you should make sure that you have higher UM limits. Here’s what you can do:
- Determine how much coverage you have. Check your limits online.
- Make sure that your UM limits equal your liability limits. If you have only $30/$60k UM but $100/$300k liability coverage, you need to change that immediately. If you can afford $100k liability insurance, you can afford $100k UM coverage as well.
- Consider increasing your UM limits. It doesn’t cost that much to double or triple your coverage. It’s a bit like buying in bulk. It simply costs less per dollar of coverage for higher limits than it does for lower limits. This is because there are far more “smaller” claims than there are “bigger” claims. Call your agent and discuss your coverages.
PIP Coverage: PIP coverage is more limited than UM coverage. It’s a good idea to have it, but it is not as important to have as UM coverage. PIP pays for medical expenses and lost income. It can help with deductibles. It does not cover the full range of personal injury damages such as impairment, pain, suffering disfigurement, etc. It is also a “no fault” coverage. In other words, if you hit a car while riding your bike and it was your fault, you can make a PIP claim by submitting your medical bills.
The minimum limit for PIP in Texas is $2,500, but you can purchase $5,000, $10,000, and up.
1 Can’t get blood from a turnip: If the driver that hit you doesn’t have any/enough insurance, the bottom line is that you won’t be able to recover any money from that person. If the driver that hit you has no assets, then there is nothing to collect. Even if you get a large judgment against the other driver, it is essentially worthless because any attempts at collection (like garnishing wages) will be futile and could end with the driver filing bankruptcy. I know this is hard to accept and it just doesn’t seem just, but it’s the way it is.
2 Those Double Numbers: Liability/UM/UIM coverage are written with two numbers like $30,000/60,000 or $100,000/$300,000. The first number is the maximum per person. The second number is the maximum that will be paid to everyone injured in the incident, i.e., if you and other family members are injured in the same incident.
3 Agents and UM: There are many insurance agents who might tell you the UM insurance does not cover you if you are hit by a car while riding your bike. They are simply wrong.
4 Does making a claim under your own auto insurance increase your premiums? No, not because you filed a claim. However, your insurance premiums are going up just because that’s what always happens with insurance. But if you aren’t at fault, your premiums should not increase simply because you made a claim. Moreover, you paid for PIP and UM insurance coverage and the business of insurance is a bit like a casino in reverse. You get paid if you lose something. But the concept of paying to play is still the same. You paid for the coverages and you should collect if your (unlucky) number comes up.