The following recommendations have been provided by our supporters at the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose.
The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose strongly recommends to all California bicyclists that they purchase, as part of their car or motorcycle insurance policy, high limits of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in case they are ever injured by a motorist.
Sadly, it is often the case that a bicyclist is seriously injured by either (1) a motorist who has no insurance; (2) a motorist who has very little insurance (the minimum required by California law is only $15K in bodily injury liability insurance); or (3) a motorist the identity of whom is unknown, such as a hit-and-run driver.
In any of these circumstances, under California law, the bicyclist’s uninsured motorist coverage would cover their injuries and damages over and above the driver’s insurance. The same applies to a pedestrian injured by a motorist.
For example, if a bicyclist has $100K in UM coverage on their auto policy, and they suffer $100K worth of damages in an accident caused by the negligence of a motorist who has only $15K in bodily injury liability insurance coverage ($15K is the legal minimum), the bicyclist may first recover $15K from the motorist and thereafter may recover $85K from their own auto insurer (the bicyclist’s own auto insurance essentially steps into the shoes of the driver’s insurance). However, in the above example, if the bicyclist’s UM coverage is only $15K, then the bicyclist has no grounds to assert a UM claim since the policies cannot be stacked. Making a UM claim does not increase the bicyclist’s auto insurance premiums since UM coverage is based on the fault of the motorist.
The good news is that UM insurance is relatively quite inexpensive to purchase, and is usually by far one of the least expensive component of auto insurance coverage. As bicycle injury attorneys, the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose recommends having as high limits as you can afford (as high as your bodily injury liability limits) since this may be one’s only source of compensation in the event of an accident. Most auto insurers, however, do not allow one to have UM limits that are higher than one’s bodily injury liability limits. One normally does not even need to own a car to have UM insurance, as long as they are listed as an additional insured under the auto insurance policy of a spouse or other household member and that policy provides UM insurance - getting oneself so listed usually does not increase the spouse's or household member's insurance premiums.
The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose in San Francisco specializes in the representation of injured bicyclists in personal injury and wrongful death cases, with more than 27 years experience. If you have any questions about this article, do not hesitate to contact us - we would gladly provide you with our best advice free of charge.