No-Fault Coverage: Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Receive Coverage
by Melissa B. Pittelli
Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident? If so, and you were the driver, passenger, bicyclist or pedestrian hit by a vehicle, you are entitled to receive no fault benefits through the insurance policy of the insured New York vehicle that you were occupying at the time of the accident. Regardless of who caused the accident, no-fault insurance is insurance coverage offered under the insured automobile insurance policy to pay for medical bills, medically-necessary expenses and lost wages.
At a minimum, no-fault coverage provides for up to $50,000 per person in benefits for the following:
- All necessary doctor and hospital bills and other health service expenses;
- 80% of your gross lost earnings up to a maximum monthly payment of $2,000.00 a month for up to three (3) years following the date of the accident (provided that a treating Doctor submits a disability note);
- Up to $25 per day for a period of one (1) year from the date of the accident for other reasonable and necessary expenses the injured person may have incurred because of an injury resulting from the accident, such as the cost of hiring a housekeeper or necessary transportation expenses to and from a health service provider, prescriptions, etc.
In some cases, the insured vehicle that is providing the no-fault benefits may have more than the basic minimum providing on the type of coverage that was purchased with the policy.
These available benefits can be crucial to an individual who needs financial and medical assistance and cannot work as a result of serious injuries suffered from a motor vehicle accident.
There is a catch, however, to receiving any part or all of these no-fault benefits. You must put the applicable no-fault automobile insurance carrier on written notice within thirty (30) days of a motor vehicle accident by submitting a no-fault application. Although there are limited exceptions, the failure to submit the written no-fault application can result in a denial by the carrier to provide these no-fault benefits. Therefore, it is critical that a no-fault application is submitted to the no-fault carrier as soon after the accident as possible.
To learn more about what you may be entitled to receive through no-fault insurance coverage and to find out if you qualify to be eligible to receive these benefits, contact us immediately so that we can schedule an appointment for you to come into our office. In addition to helping you receive the no-fault benefits you may be entitled to, we will evaluate your case to see if you are entitled to bring a lawsuit for the pain and suffering you are experiencing as a result of the serious injuries sustained from the motor vehicle collision.
You may be underinsured and not even know it!
By: Cary Greenberg, Esq.
The law requires all drivers to have automobile insurance to insure themselves against being sued by other people injured in a motor vehicle accident involving you and/or your vehicle. Purchasing higher policy limits decreases your risk of personal financial responsibility in case of a serious injury.
However, what happens when you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and the other driver or car has no insurance or a limited amount of insurance which is insufficient to cover your injuries? Under these circumstances, you must proceed under the SUM portion of your policy (a/k/a supplementary underinsured motorist benefits) for compensation for these injuries. Unfortunately, since it is very inexpensive to purchase, and may result in large payouts by the insurance carrier, many insurance carriers do not advise you to raise your SUM coverage as they would do with the liability portion of your policy. You must ask for it! Otherwise, you may only end up with $25,000 worth of SUM coverage which effectively is no coverage at all.
Under New York State Law your SUM coverage must exceed the liability coverage of the offending vehicle in order for it to be applicable. For example, if you are in a collision with a drunk driver and are seriously injured and the other driver’s liability limits are $25,000 (minimum required by New York State Law) and your SUM coverage is also $25,000, then you are limited to the $25,000 coverage for the other vehicle. On the other hand, let’s change the scenario slightly. If the drunk driver had a minimum policy of $25,000, but you had $100,000 SUM coverage, then once the other car pays their $25,000 policy limits, you can pursue your policy for an additional $75,000.
With respect to being injured by another vehicle that was uninsured, you are relegated to pursuing a claim against your SUM coverage for compensation of these injuries. Thus, if you only have $25,000 worth of coverage, that is the most you can receive. Accordingly, the higher SUM coverage you have the greater amount of compensation you can receive.
Other factors to consider are that since SUM is considered a first party benefit that you purchase in addition to your other coverages, then utilizing it should not increase your insurance premium. You can verify this fact with your carrier before filing your claim.
Furthermore, an SUM claim does not require a trial in front of a Judge or jury. If a claim does not settle, then you proceed to arbitration and sit around a table with your attorney, the insurance carrier’s attorney, and an arbitrator to discuss the case and reach a decision. It is much less time consuming and less stressful.
The bottom line, it is great to have high coverage for other people involved in your accident, but you must protect yourself as well. Check your policy. Make sure your SUM coverage at least matches the amount of your liability coverage. If not, contact your carrier, get price quotes and purchase as much SUM coverage as you can.
How Much is Enough? Do You Feel Lucky? Why You Need More Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
You are a good driver. You operate your vehicle skillfully. You obey traffic laws, watch the signs and lights, and are aware of what other vehicles are doing. Certainly you know and respect the dangers of driving while distracted – all of this to protect yourself, loved ones and friends who may be traveling with you.
So far, so good. These are all things that are in your control. What else is within your control?
Protecting yourself against uninsured and underinsured drivers. While it is true that uninsured motorist coverage is required in NY State, the minimum amount required may not be enough.
Bad or impaired drivers: not within your control
Consider the statistics:
There were 879 fatal car accidents on Long Island from 2012 to 2015 resulting in 926 deaths, according to an examination of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, which the agency compiles from law enforcement. Victims killed in accidents involving drunken driving accounted for 27.9 percent of all deaths in crashes where at least one driver’s blood-alcohol content was reported. Victims killed in crashes involving speeding accounted for 25.3 percent of all deaths in accidents where at least one driver’s speed was reported. Accidents in which both drunken driving and speeding were factors accounted for 13.3 percent of deaths when both factors were reported. Nationally, 17,775 people died on American roads during the first six months of 2016.
Do those numbers give you pause? Now consider that about 14.3 percent of all drivers nationwide are uninsured (about one in seven), according to the Insurance Information Institute. Speaking locally, it is estimated more than five percent of New York drivers do not have insurance. An even greater number do not have enough insurance to adequately cover your medical costs should you be injured in an accident with them.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
New York mandates that all registered vehicles in the state carry the following:
Liability insurance, no-fault auto insurance, and uninsured motorist insurance. Let’s focus for now on the uninsured danger.
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your economic losses when you are injured in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have insurance. This coverage is meant to cover your expenses, while regular bodily injury and property damage are meant to cover another diver’s expenses.
How much does uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance cost?
UIM is much cheaper than standard bodily injury and property damage insurance. Based on premiums collected for a 34-year-old married male sample driver, the premiums for a $25,000/$50,000 limit range only cost between $33 and $76 a year. For higher limits ($100,000/$300,000) premiums only went to $86 and $134 a year. UIM prices will fluctuate between states, however, since some have a higher percentage of uninsured drivers.
Is uninsured motorist insurance worth it?
Remember the classic Clint Eastwood line, “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?” Having better uninsured motorist coverage certainly turns the odds more in your favor.
In most cases UIM is well worth it. For one, the average hospital bill for a car accident is around $60,000. At $25,000 limits, a car accident with an uninsured driver pays for less than half of the costs, leaving you liable for the rest. A rule in insurance is that you should have enough to cover your net worth, or your value after you subtract your liabilities from your assets. Thus, if you are worth $50,000, you should have UIM limits that reach $50,000. Fortunately, the price difference between the higher limits of coverage is not large.
Uninsured motorist example: You get into a crash resulting in medical bills totaling $20,000. Ordinarily you could file a claim for $20,000 from the at-fault motorist’s bodily injury liability coverage, but since the other driver is uninsured, you need to tap into your uninsured motorist insurance. So long as your limits are above $20,000, you should be able to recoup all losses.
When you get behind the wheel it is always best to be fully covered by an insurance policy. Adding additional UIM will keep you from further distress if you are injured by an uninsured motorist.
Should you be involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact Davis & Ferber LLP at (866) 4-SUCCESS or (631) 543-2900. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of your accident. We will prepare and file all documentation to seek the recovery you deserve, and will be your representative in all legal matters, including insurance interactions.