Explaining SUM Insurance Part 1

Posted: March 29, 2018

Every week, we spend hours in our cars; commuting to and from work; running errands; making trips. Unless you live in major metropolitan area – where public transportation rules, and car ownership is more bane than blessing – your car is a sort of gateway to the world.

Auto insurance is a form of financial security. It acts like as shield, protecting negligent drivers from having to pay out of pocket for civil liabilities. That is liability insurance (also known as “bodily injury” insurance).

Auto insurance can also serve as a sort of safety net – protecting injured drivers where their economic losses, and pain and suffering, exceed the amount of available insurance from the negligent driver. We are talking about uninsured motorist (“UM”) and supplementary uninsured motorist (“SUM”) insurance coverage.

New York has mandated that every driver carry bodily injury insurance limits of at least $25,000.  Bodily injury coverage protects a driver from liability claims made by other motorists or pedestrians arising from that driver’s use or operation of a motor vehicle.  Of course, despite this mandate, our roads remain congested with motorists with no insurance.  Further, while at face value $25,000 might seem like a lot of money, when a motorist endures a serious or catastrophic injury, it simply is not enough.

As such, if you are hurt by a driver with a small bodily injury policy – known as an “underinsured driver” – you might find that there is not sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for your pain and suffering.

Worse yet, there is a chance the offending motorist has no auto insurance whatsoever. This “uninsured motorist” will be personally liable for injuries negligently caused on the roadways, but may lack the financial wherewithal to pay for the harm caused.

That’s where SUM/UM insurance comes in. Say you are rear-ended by a vehicle with the state-minimum bodily injury insurance policy of $25,000.  If your pain and suffering is valued at $80,000, but you do not carry SUM insurance, the most you would be able to receive is the underlying $25,000 policy.  Because you did not carry SUM insurance you are less than fully compensated.

If, however, you carried a SUM policy in the amount of $100,000, you would be able to recover the difference between the $25,000 policy and the value of your pain and suffering from your SUM carrier.  In this scenario, the difference would be $55,000 ($80,000-$25,000 = $55,000).  For just a few additional dollars per month in premiums, you can protect yourself, and the family members with whom you reside.

A new law enacted December 18, 2017 has changed the process by which motorists can purchase SUM/UM coverage. Stay tuned as our Blog examines the change.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to being involved in a vehicle accident, contact our car accident lawyers today by calling the William Mattar (844) 444-4444 to schedule a free consultation or fill out a free initial consultation form—it’s easy and only takes a minute.

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