Within your NY automobile insurance policy is your supplemental insurance coverage. Most policies have uninsured motorist coverage, which protects you against someone that doesn’t have insurance. There is also underinsured motorist coverage included in your supplemental coverage. Many policyholders aren’t aware that they even have these types of additional coverage. Last year the governor signed a new statute into law affecting the way that policyholders were educated about supplemental insurance and the mandatory minimums that they must carry on their policy. Before we talk about these changes, let’s discuss what these types of coverage mean for you.

Defining uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

These two types of coverage sound the same, but they are slightly different.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This part of your insurance covers drivers on the road that are traveling without insurance. If you get hit by an uninsured driver, this is the part of your insurance that protects you. If you are in an accident where the other driver leaves the scene of the crime, this part of your insurance will cover you.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage: When you are involved in an accident, this coverage is to protect against motorists that don’t have high enough coverage on their personal insurance. Say you get in an accident with someone that has the state minimum coverage, but your injuries exceed this amount. This portion of your insurance will cover the difference.

What does New York require you to have on your insurance policy?

At the bare minimum, you need to carry liability insurance. You’re required to have 25,000 dollars in coverage for bodily injury and 50,000 dollars for the death of a person in an accident. These amounts are doubled for multiple passengers in the car. Then, you’re required to carry 10,000 dollars for any property damage.

If you are in an accident with someone that only carries liability insurance, you will barely have enough money to cover your damages, injuries, and pain and suffering. Thankfully, you can use the underinsured motorist coverage to help split the difference.

How do you claim your supplemental insurance coverage?

Before you can receive any uninsured coverage, you need to prove to your insurance company that the negligent driver doesn’t have insurance. You can make these claims for a hit-and-run accident, by only showing the property damage. Generally, you can contact your insurance company and send them pictures of the damage to your vehicle.

When you’re filing a claim for underinsured motorist coverage, your policy will only pay out when the negligent driver’s insurance coverage has been exhausted. However, there are some situations where the underinsured coverage didn’t pay out as expected. We always recommend consulting with an attorney to ensure that you get the settlement you need. Insurance companies are focused on paying out the smallest settlements possible. Having an experienced attorney gives you an advantage with insurance companies. Your Long Island personal injury lawyer knows how insurance companies operate and they are used to discussing settlements with these insurance companies. Don’t risk being taken advantage of by your insurance company, contact an attorney today to discuss your options.

What are the new SUM limits in New York?

In the past, SUM coverage was optional on your insurance policy. However, you are now required to carry the SUM on your insurance policy. If you don’t want to have this insurance coverage you need to opt out by signing a waiver. This law went into effect in June of 2018. With the new law, your SUM limits will match the bodily injury limits on your policy. If you want the SUM to be less, you have to request it. Every year your insurance company is required to remind you of your SUM coverage and give you a chance to add it to your policy.

Does my SUM cover me in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver?

Your insurance company is supposed to pay you up to your policy limit if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. However, insurers are known for not honoring these claims. Insurance companies don’t want to pay out on their claims. You could also see your premiums rise after getting an uninsured motorist payout. You are penalized because someone ran into you and you have to pay more on your insurance. An experienced Long Island personal injury lawyer will challenge these practices. Your lawyer will demand that you receive full compensation as defined by your insurance policy.

If you have received an unfair settlement offer from your insurance company, it’s not too late. You don’t have to take the settlement that your insurance company offers you. Contact us today to discuss your options. Just because you didn’t use a lawyer at the beginning of your claims process doesn’t mean you can’t use a lawyer now.

How much coverage should you carry?

This varies by the person, but most experts recommend opting into the SUM coverage. Your SUM coverage should match that of your liability coverage on your policy. We live in a world where it is better to be safe than sorry. You don’t know whom you are sharing the road with, and you can’t expect other people to have adequate coverage. You don’t want to be in a bad financial position because you didn’t have enough coverage for an accident. It’s better to pay a little extra for insurance you might not need than to not have it.

How does New York’s No-fault insurance work?

No-fault insurance will cover your lost wages for a maximum of three years after your injury. However, this will only happen if your doctor doesn’t allow you to go back to work. As we mentioned before it doesn’t matter who is at fault, your insurance company must cover your losses. However, the maximum payout is 50,000 dollars. So, many people with serious injuries file personal injury lawsuits against negligent drivers. The no-fault coverage also includes pedestrians, passengers, and bicyclists.

How can I receive compensation?

There is a time frame that you must adhere to if you want to receive compensation. You only have 30 days to file your no-fault application. If you were a pedestrian or a bicyclist you also need to file with your insurance company. If you are in an uninsured vehicle you can contact the New York State Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. Also, if you are going to claim lost wages you need your employer to verify it. You have to file your lost wages within 90 days of the accident. As long as you meet these guidelines, you qualify for compensation.

How do I file a personal injury claim?

If your damages and medical bills are more than your compensation, then you’ll need to file a personal injury claim. You can sue the negligent party responsible for your accident to cover the rest of your expenses. It is possible to file this on your own, but we recommend the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. These attorneys have experience filing these claims and dealing with insurance companies. To get the best settlement, it is important that you hire an expert to help you through your case.

Who is eligible for no-fault benefits?

Many drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are eligible for no-fault benefits once they have been involved in an accident in New York. For your to officially qualify for no-fault benefits:
You must have a vehicle that was insured in New York. The company must be licensed to sell insurance in New York.

The vehicle needs to have a New York registration. A vehicle is defined as a truck, car, taxi, or bus.

The injured person must be a driver or passenger in the insured vehicle. The injured person can also be a bicyclist or pedestrian that was run over by a vehicle.

How much coverage can I expect?

With the no-fault law, there is a maximum of 50,000 dollars for each passenger in the car. Anything about 50,000 dollars would need to be awarded in a personal injury claim. You can also receive partial payback of lost wages. You are eligible for up to 80% of your gross wages. However, you can only receive a maximum of 2,000 dollars a month.

Are rental vehicles covered?

Driving a rental can be convenient if you don’t have your car or you’re traveling. Since most of the traffic through NYC involves tourists, it’s feasible that rental cars are occasionally involved in accidents. Usually, your rental car will be covered by no-fault insurance. Don’t forget that your personal insurance policy will generally cover any damage that occurs in a rental car.

What if I have an accident that isn’t in New York?

As we mentioned before, New York’s no-fault coverage isn’t typical in other states. Other states determine who is at fault, and that driver is responsible for covering the victim’s damages. Your car is insured in each state though, as long as your insurance policy is active.

What if my no-fault coverage denies my bill payments?

You have many different options available to challenge a denial. First, you should start with your medical provider. You need to make sure that you don’t assume payment of the bill yourself. To ensure that the payment is covered through your benefits, you should contact our office.

What is Supplemental Underinsurance Coverage?

Even if you have a good auto or motorcycle liability policy, you can still be left out in the cold. Your $100,000 liability policy would only cover accidents where you are at fault, working to compensate victims of your negligence. If another motorist is at fault and injures you in an accident, you are only entitled to coverage in the amount of their liability policy. If that driver only carries $25,000, you would only be entitled to the $25,000 of coverage held by the at-fault driver.

This is where SUM coverage is helpful. If you also had $100,000 in SUM coverage, you would be entitled to the $25,000 coverage from the driver who caused the accident as well as up to $100,000 in additional coverage from the SUM policy you purchased to help with covering your losses. 

Tactics Insurers Use to Devalue and Deny Claims

We often expect that our insurance company will be there for us in the event of an auto accident. That’s what the popular catchphrases, “Like a good neighbor,” and “You’re in good hands,” would like us to believe, anyway. 

However, many people fail to look at things through the insurers’ point of view. Like all companies, insurance businesses are in the business of making money. When they pay claims, they lose money. Therefore, to avoid this, they will resort to various tactics to reduce the amount they pay or refuse to pay claims altogether. These tactics may seem acceptable at first glance until you realize they put you at a disadvantage. 

You can avoid dealing with these tactics and protect your claim by hiring a lawyer. Here are some common tactics insurers use to devalue and deny claims.

Offer a Quick Settlement

Every insurance company’s dream is to settle cases for pennies on the dollar. While it may be tempting to get a hold of quick cash after a car accident, doing so would not be wise. You may not have been fully treated yet, so it’s possible your injuries could get worse. Then what? With a quick settlement, you sign a release stating that you will not seek further compensation for damages. You’re out of luck financially at that point.

Deny Liability

An insurance company will do whatever it takes to avoid paying you. They may claim that you really weren’t injured in the crash or that you are partially or fully liable, even though it was clearly the other driver’s fault. They are trying to call your bluff, so you really have to stand your ground and fight. 

Fight Your Medical Bills

The insurance company may try to get you to stop treatment, especially if your medical expenses have already reached a high amount. Don’t give in. This is a ruse on their part to create a treatment gap in your medical record. They want to be able to deny your claim based on this gap. 

Insurance Company Delays Your Claim

The insurer may come up with fake delays to prevent paying out your claim. They know you are stressed and vulnerable, and they hope that you will eventually give up and stop pursuing your claim. Don’t give in. Be persistent and ask for the money you deserve. If they refuse to pay up, hire a lawyer.

Bad Faith Insurance 

Some insurance companies will go as far as to engage in bad faith. This occurs when an insurer breaches a contract. For example, if you are treated unfairly during the accident claim process or the insurer refuses to compensate you for losses that have insurance coverage for, this is considered bad faith, which is against the law.

While you can sue your insurance company for bad faith, it can be difficult to prove. Therefore, don’t expect your insurer to settle without a fight. You will need to be prepared to battle it out in court, so make sure you have a knowledgeable and aggressive lawyer on your side.

When Am I Entitled To Punitive Damages in New York?

Sometimes in New York personal injury cases, victims can recover more than just compensatory damages to make them whole for their harms. Punitive damages can be awarded in some situations to punish someone’s particularly bad behavior as well as serve as a deterrent to them and others from repeating the same behavior in the future. Even though punitive damages are awarded on a case-by-case basis and are entirely at judge or jury’s discretion, there are still some general guidelines that can offer guidance on when punitive damages may be awarded in your Long Island personal injury claim. A skilled Long Island car accident lawyer can assist you in understanding how these may apply to your claim. 

Standard of Proof 

To recover punitive damages, a victim must prove the responsible party acted with complete disregard for the victim’s safety or health. Clear evidence must be presented that the conduct reflects such a conscious, deliberate disregard of the interests of others that it’s considered “willful and wanton.” This is very strict and much higher than the proof needed to establish liability and recover compensatory damages, which is why punitive damages are pretty rare.

What is Willful and Wanton Conduct?

Right now, Long Island and the rest of New York have no strict standard of what counts as willful or wanton conduct for purposes of personal injury punitive damage awards. However, a few cases have given some instruction as to what may qualify for these additional damages. Punitive damages were permitted when the injurious actions “evince a high degree of moral turpitude” and demonstrate criminal indifference to the wrongdoer’s civil obligations. Notice of a court order and choosing to ignore it can also amount to “willful or wanton” conduct when it ends up harming the victim. 

Contact A New York Car Accident Attorney

When you are the victim of a personal injury, it’s important you take steps to secure the maximum compensation you deserve – as well as hold wrongdoers accountable for their bad behavior. Punitive damages can be difficult to prove, so it’s important you contact the experienced New York City car accident attorneys at the Falkowitz Law Firm, PLLC to put your best case forward and avoid costly legal missteps. Contact us 24/7 at (844)-385-4279 or by completing our online Contact Page to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Let us use our knowledge and resources to fight for you and secure the best possible outcome from an unfortunate situation.

If you have any questions about receiving your SUM coverage, you can contact our offices. We would love to go over your options with you.