Time for an Insurance Check-Up

Today’s guest blog post was submitted by Mimy Bailey, a bicycle attorney practicing in Seattle.  She handles cases involving collisions and roadway defects.  She is a member of Washington Bikes.

Spring is upon us (supposedly), so now is a great time to review your insurance coverage as you get ready to spend more time on your two-wheeler (yay!).

If you’ve never taken a close look at your auto coverage, be thankful, because it means you’ve probably never been hit on your bike.  That’s right, your auto policy provides coverage if you are hit by a car while riding.  Of course you hope that the driver is adequately insured, but you can only hope for that.  There are a couple coverages that will ensure you’re taken care of if the unexpected occurs.
Two coverages are especially important for cyclists.  I’ll go through each coverage is, explain why it’s important, and provide general advice on a coverage amount.  Of course, insurance polices can vary, and coverage can get complicated, but I’m boiling this down to make it easy to see whether you need to make changes.
Personal Injury Protection (aka PIP)
What?  PIP pays for medical and other expenses, such as wage loss and household services.  PIP is no-fault coverage, so it does not matter who caused the collision, your bills will be paid.  The bills are paid as they are incurred (similar to health insurance).
Why?  PIP is vital if you don’t have health insurance.  Without it, you’ll be personally responsible for 100% of your medical treatment costs.  If you do have health insurance, it’s still important.  PIP pays approved bills at 100%.  There are no copays or deductibles.  PIP will also cover a limited amount of wage loss and household services.
How much?  PIP is usually offered at $10k, $25k, and/or $35k of coverage.  If you can afford it, purchase one of the higher levels.  With a trip to the ER potentially costing $5k or more, you want to make sure there’s enough coverage to cover all of your treatment.
Under/Uninsured Motorist Coverage (aka UM/UIM)
What?  Liability coverage is mandatory in Washington, but some people drive without insurance and others carry the minimum ($25k).  UM/UIM coverage will provide insurance if you are hit by someone who is uninsured or whose coverage is inadequate to cover your damages.
Why?  Without this coverage, if you are hit by a driver who is uninsured, there will be no recovery.  You can still get your medical bills paid under your PIP, but you will not be compensated for your general damages (pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, etc).
How much?  Unlike PIP, that’s just covering your medical bills, this coverage may need cover the kitchen sink – medical bills, wage loss, and general damages.  Seriously consider coverage that’s at least $75k.
If you have other questions about insurance or some of the information provided is unclear, send me an email and I’ll be happy to clarify mimy@seattlebicycleattorney.com
Mimy’s website is at www.seattlebicycleattorney.com and her Twitter handle is SeattleBikes.  
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One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Good info, but you should also talk about insurance in case of theft. That would be homeowners or renter's insurance, and you ideally should document your bike with receipts, a serial number, and photos.