Have You Checked
Your Spare Tire Lately?
Automobile Insurance Coverage for Bicycle Riders
David D. Daggett
Daggett Shuler, Attorneys At Law
If you are the type of person who checks your spare tire before you get a flat, you may not need to read this article. However, if you typically overlook preventive maintenance, you should consider this advice.
Bicycle riders tend to incur severe injuries and high medical expenses when involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. Have you considered how you will pay your medical expenses if you are injured in a bicycle accident? Even with the best health insurance coverage, there is usually a deductible and/or a co-payment that you will be responsible for paying.
Did you know that your automobile insurance policy may provide additional coverage? So, you may say that your children are the ones who ride bicycles; or, that you do not personally have an auto or carry auto insurance. Yet, all automobile policies issued in North Carolina provide coverage not only for the named insured, but also your spouse, and any family members living in the same household. Accordingly, almost all bicycle riders will have access to automobile insurance coverage.
The first type of auto insurance that may provide coverage for a bicyclist is medical payments coverage. Med pay, as it is called, is optional coverage in North Carolina that can be purchased in conjunction with your automobile insurance policy. This coverage means your insurance company will reimburse you, or any family member, for any injury sustained if you are hit by a motor vehicle regardless of who was at fault. Medical payments coverage is generally issued in amounts of $1,000, $2,000 or $5,000. This insurance is fairly inexpensive, but you have to ask for it.
It is also important as bicyclists to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect you in the event of an accident. Uninsured and underinsured coverage is mandatory in conjunction with your liability coverage, unless you sign a waiver. Uninsured coverage simply means that your insurance company will pay if you get hit by an at-fault, uninsured vehicle. Underinsured coverage provides additional insurance if the at-fault driver who hit you does not have enough insurance.
In North Carolina, the minimum amount of insurance coverage required is $30,000.00. Due to the cost of medical services and the likelihood that severe injuries occur in a bicycle accident, $30,000.00 may not cover all of the medical expenses and other damages incurred. Accordingly, it is our opinion that underinsured coverage is crucial coverage for bicyclists. Underinsured coverage can now be purchased in excess of your primary liability coverage and in amounts up to $1,000,000.00. Like medical payments coverage, this insurance is relatively inexpensive.
And by the way, what about your bike? Like many cyclists, you’re often more concerned about your bike than yourself. And why not, because we all know not all bikes are created equal. Fortunately, your automobile insurance and homeowner’s insurance may protect your bike as well. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect your bike when the uninsured motorist is identified. Your homeowner’s coverage picks up where your auto coverage leaves off to protect other situations where your bike is damaged in an auto accident. Your homeowner’s coverage will go even further to protect your bike at replacement cost against risks such as theft and vandalism.
Med pay, uninsured, and underinsured coverage are very important when a bicyclist is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. Hopefully, you will never need to use this coverage, but, like your spare tire, you will be thankful you have it when the occasion arises.
Check your spare tire and make sure you are covered should the need arise.