If you are hit by a car while on your bike and end up with $60,000 or more in medical bills, it will not help you if the driver at fault has only minimum legal coverage of say $25,000.
Worse yet he may have no insurance, or as is happening in more and more bicycle/car crashes, it is a hit and run. The driver leaves the scene and there is no one to make a claim against.
Most cyclists do not know that in most cases you can claim for expenses and compensation from your own insurance company, and if you are not at fault you are not penalized. However, this is only the case if you previously bought sufficient coverage on your own policy.
I was advised to do this a few years ago by an attorney friend of mine, and as a result I upped my underinsured and uninsured driver coverage to $250,000. It is advisable to carry at least $100,000 and up to $300,000. It may cost you $8.00 a month for the extra coverage, but the peace of mind it brings is worth it.
This advice was reiterated in a free book I just received called “The Utah Bicycle Accident Handbook.” As the title suggests it applies to the state of Utah, but much of the advice is good in most states.
The book also pointed out that I might consider Personal Injury Protection, or No Fault Coverage. This allows for my medical expenses to be covered immediately, instead of having to wait for the other party’s insurance to accept responsibility for the accident. If they do eventually accept responsibility my insurance company will seek reimbursement from the at fault insurer.
I had a serious bike accident a few years ago, and I was fortunate in that the person who caused the accident owned a business and had excellent auto insurance. There was also a witness who came forward, and I had an attorney who specialized in bicycle cases handle the claim.
I would advise anyone to do the same. An attorney will take a third of the final settlement, but they take no money up front, so it is in their interest to get the best settlement possible.
Insurance companies are in the business of paying out as little as possible, that is how they make a profit. In my case I would have had no idea what would have been a fair offer, or just how much they would have paid, but an experienced attorney has that knowledge and experience.
The League of American Bicyclists has a list of attorneys who specialize in bicycle accidents