New Yorkers Deserve Good Insurance Options | Families
Three years ago, a New York public school custodian, returning from his coffee break, was hit by an underinsured driver while crossing the street and left permanently disabled. He was in a training program and on his way to becoming a chief custodian but instead was left disabled, requiring significant physical therapy to even walk again. While he thought the insurance he purchased would provide some financial relief for the fact he could no longer perform his job, he was left high and dry.
This year, another New York family was injured in an accident caused by an uninsured, drunk driver. The crash left the father in a month-long coma, the wife injured and their child emotionally shaken. Despite the wife’s broken bones and bruises, she had to maintain the family’s small business full-time, while going to the hospital and taking care of their daughter. The family’s medical insurance only covered part of the medical expenses, and the remaining costs – together with the other resulting expenses – have left the family in financial distress and forced to fundraise for money from the public to meet their expenses.
When New Yorkers purchase car insurance, they should be presented with all the necessary information to decide the best option for them and their families. Most New York drivers don’t know it, but if they are the victim of an accident caused by an under or uninsured driver, they can only receive injury compensation in the amount of their Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) insurance.
Many who buy car insurance have no idea about SUM insurance, let alone that unless they ask to upgrade it, they will only be covered with the bare minimum of $25,000 – not nearly enough to protect against the costs of a serious accident and injury. Too often, insurance policyholders find out they have insufficient coverage after being severely injured in a car accident by irresponsible and underinsured drivers.
In the case of both of these tragedies, if SUM coverage were offered at an adequate level when they purchased their insurance policies, these situations would not have been so disastrous for these innocent victims.
Fortunately, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that will remedy this insurance gap and help protect New Yorkers. It will require insurance companies to offer SUM at the same level as the liability coverage drivers choose to insure them against crashes that are their fault. Under the bill, New Yorkers will have the choice to refuse or lessen their SUM coverage, but will now at least have the appropriate information to make that decision.
Many states throughout the country already have similar laws in place. The legislature has completed the task of advancing New York in this area and protecting innocent New Yorkers. Now, we just need the Governor to finalize this by signing the SUM bill into law.