Insurance for Bikes
In far too many cases, bicyclists suffer serious personal injury caused by careless, inattentive motorists. Bicyclists do have a great deal of power to prevent accidents by abiding the rules of the road, wearing a helmet and always riding on defense.
But even such careful regard for safety doesn’t always guarantee a cyclist will be safe. One of the smartest moves riders can make is to purchase insurance coverage that will help alleviate the financial burdens that inevitably arise as a result of a crash.
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston bicycle accident attorneys know insurance is essential for cyclists, particularly if they are regularly riding in an urban area, with a high likelihood of encountering motor vehicles.
Although technically, it is the responsibility of the at-fault driver (and/or his insurance company) to cover the cost of damages exceeding $2,000, federal estimates are that one-fifth of drivers don’t carry liability insurance, as required by law.
Cyclists must protect their economic interests in addition to their physical well-being. There are basically three options from which cyclists can choose. Often, the best plan is to be covered by some combination of the following:
- Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist (UM/ UIM) Coverage
- Bicycle-Only Insurance
- Health Care Insurance
Although bicyclists are considered “vehicles” on the roads for almost all intents and purposes, insurance for injuries to cyclists works a bit differently.A No-Fault State
Massachusetts is a no-fault state when it comes to automobile insurance.
State law considers a person to be at-fault for an accident if your driving behavior at the time of the crash was more than 50 percent the reason for the accident. Statute requires all motor vehicle operators to have secured a baseline of automobile insurance that includes personal injury protection (PIP), liability coverage (for the personal injuries of others) and property damage.
As of 2016, the minimum insurance requirements were:
- Bodily injury to others: $20,000 per person/ $40,000 per accident
- Personal injury protection (PIP) - $8,000 per accident
- Bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto - $20,000 per person/ $40,000 per accident
- Damage to someone else’s property - $5,000 per accident
Bicyclists, on the other hand, are not required to carry insurance. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.
When two vehicles collide, the Commonwealth’s no-fault policy dictates that the first $2,000 of coverage for injuries is to be paid by each driver’s PIP coverage. For damages in excess of that, the injured party can take legal action against the at-fault driver (and ultimately, his or her insurance company) to collect damages.
Bicyclists, however, can have their first $2,000 in medical expenses paid for by the motor vehicle’s auto insurance policy – regardless of whether the cyclist was at-fault. However, if the cyclist was not at-fault and his or her personal injury damages exceed $2,000, he or she can take action against the other driver.UM/UIM Coverage
UM/ UIM coverage is auto insurance on a personal vehicle that extends coverage to bicycle accidents. It can also cover a cyclist for damages caused by a driver who either lacks insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to fully cover cyclist’s damages.
UM/UIM coverage also provides protection to cyclists in the event of a hit-and-run crash – of which bicyclists suffer disproportionately. If a driver flees and is never caught, he or she is treated as uninsured motorists for insurance purposes.
UM/ UIM coverage is required for motorists in Massachusetts. Those who recreationally or regularly ride a bicycle should consider increasing the limits on this coverage.Bike-Only Coverage
There is also now a burgeoning insurance industry that offers bike-only coverage.
However, the maximum coverage is usually far lower than what you will see for motor vehicle coverage. For example, one provider offers liability limits of up to $100,000 per accident, but only $25,000 in “vehicle contact coverage.” That makes sense when you consider that a cyclist in a collision with a car is unlikely to cause severe injury to the occupants of the vehicle, but rather is far more likely to incur serious injuries on his or her own.
Other types of coverage that bicycle-only insurance provides:
- Bicycle physical damage
- Rental reimbursement
- Competitive event fee reimbursement
- Spare parts
- Cycling apparel
- Cycling liability insurance
- Medical payments
- Vehicle contact protection
- Roadside assistance
It can be a smart addition to your existing UM/ UIM policy. If you don’t own a car, this option is essential.Health Insurance Coverage
Finally, the third type of coverage you should consider is medical insurance. It is required under the Affordable Care Act, and it should cover a significant percentage of your immediate and necessary medical expenses. However, it may be more difficult to obtain coverage for certain long-term care, depending on the plan.
In the event the other driver is deemed at-fault and is required to pay, your health insurance company could place a lien on any damages you recover from the negligent driver or other third parties. Recovering physically and financially from a serious Massachusetts cycling accident is a complex process best faced with the help of an experienced law firm.
Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.