What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist, or under-insured motorist coverage, is part of your auto insurance policy. UIM coverage is designed to protect you from uninsured drivers and hit-and-run collisions where the identity and insurance of the driver are unknown. Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when you are injured by a driver who is insured, but has only limited coverage and insufficient assets to be able to cover your damages.
Do UIM policies cover cyclists?
Many cyclists don’t realize that their auto policy’s UIM coverage protects them whether or not they’re in their car. If you’re injured as a pedestrian, cyclists, or passenger in a friend’s car, your UIM covers you in the event of disaster. The only requirement for using UIM insurance is that you were not entirely at fault for the collision. For cyclists who have been hit by a driver with little or no insurance, your own auto policy’s uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage can save you from a bad situation becoming even worse. The minimum liability policy in California is $15,000 as of the date of this blog post, but is set to increase to $30,000 starting January 1, 2025. $15,000 may cover a fender bender, but is barely enough to cover a trip to the emergency room.
How do you make a UIM claim?
An injured cyclist can only make a UIM claim if either 1) the driver who hits them is uninsured or 2) they recover the full amount of the driver’s policy and it is not enough to cover damages. In California, UIM insurance is “non-stackable,” meaning that if you have $50,000 of coverage and the driver who hit you has $15,000, your insurance will provide up to $35,000, the difference between the driver’s policy and yours. If your UIM limit is the same as the liability limit of the responsible driver, then you won’t have any coverage. So it’s a good idea to boost your UIM protection.
How much UIM coverage do I need?
In short, the answer is: as much as you can reasonably afford. The good news is that UIM coverage is cheap relative to liability coverage, and increasing your UIM limit substantially may result in only marginal extra cost. This is because UIM coverage is seen as lower risk. In order to use it, another driver has to be at fault AND be uninsured or underinsured. For frequent riders, especially bike commuters, the cost is well worth it. If you made it this far, please go check your UIM policy limit and consider increasing it just to be safe.
Can I get UIM without having a car?
If you do not have a car, you can still obtain UIM insurance through a “non owner operator policy.” These policies are offered by most major insurance companies and will not only provide you protection in the event that you’re hit by an underinsured driver, but also can provide you liability coverage if you rent or borrow a car.