There are probably more advertisements for auto insurance on television than there are for most any other product. This is probably because the majority of adults in the United States both own and operate automobiles. While those advertisements usually concentrate on price, very few of them concentrate on coverage.
It is common knowledge that insurance on an automobile is a legal requirement, and that the most common type of insurance is liability insurance, which will protect the owner or operator in case they are held liable for accidental damages or injuries arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle. However, there is another available coverage under your insurance policy, which protects you and any other insured parties (as defined in the insurance policy) for injuries sustained as a result of an auto accident that is due to the fault of another.
The coverage that I am referring to is supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, commonly known as SUM coverage. SUM coverage is a bodily injury protection that covers you if you are injured as a result of an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured vehicle or one involving a hit and run driver. This coverage also protects you if there is an accident with a car that carries a bodily injury liability insurance limit that is less than the SUM insurance limits that you have on your own car.
In general, SUM coverage protects you, family members who live with you, and someone in a car you are operating. Under the SUM coverage, you may make a claim against your own insurance policy for bodily injury that is legally due to the negligence of either an uninsured or an underinsured driver. The maximum benefit paid will be the limits of the SUM coverage you have purchased. If the negligent party has insurance, then said limits shall be reduced by the amount of the insurance of the negligent party.
The mandatory uninsured motorist coverage under your insurance policy will provide coverage as a result of an accident involving an uninsured vehicle or hit and run driver. However, this coverage only applies to bodily injury resulting from accidents occurring in New York State. The SUM coverage also covers accidents occurring outside of New York, and would provide coverage to make a claim against your own insurance company for the negligence of another motorist with an uninsured or underinsured vehicle.
SUM coverage may be purchased through your auto insurance carrier. However, as a general rule, the SUM coverage limit you choose cannot be higher than your bodily injury liability limit. Based upon the cost of auto insurance, it is not uncommon for the youngest drivers, as well as drivers with a poor driving history, to have the lowest available insurance coverage, as an increase in coverage would result in an increase in the policy premium to be paid.
In summary, it is important that you protect yourself and your family in case of an auto accident by purchasing an appropriate amount of SUM coverage through your insurance agent or insurance carrier.
To learn more about New York auto insurance coverage and laws or to schedule a consultation, please contact MCV Law LLP today.