The Importance of SUM/UM Auto Insurance?
Aug. 2, 2023
SUM/UM coverage for a motor vehicle insurance policy is vital for any car owner in N.Y. This coverage is a necessary protection for those injured in an accident. Although in most instances the insurance coverage will never go into effect it is still a protection that is important to those who have sustained injuries due to an auto accident. SUM stands for Supplemental Underinsured Motorist coverage. Its partner is UM insurance coverage, which stands for Uninsured Motorist coverage. Although both coverages likely will appear together in your physical insurance police they are separate coverages that act independently of each other.
In today’s day and age, a person must do what they can to protect themselves with regard to insurance coverages. Therefore, much consideration should be given to your own policy to make sure that you have sufficient coverages under this part of your automobile insurance policy. The SUM endorsement in your insurance policy will provide coverage for you and a member of your household up to the limits purchased by you, provided that the person who is at fault in the accident either does not have insurance, or has liability limits which are less than your SUM coverage limits. Below we will discuss the differences between each type of insurance and will explain why it is so important for a person who is injured in a car accident to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. For years, The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. has been helping accident victims in Westchester County as well as other New York State counties determine if they have a SUM or UM claim.
What Is SUM Insurance?
As stated above SUM stands for Supplemental Underinsured Motorist coverage, but what does that exactly mean? The SUM coverage of your insurance policy is triggered if the at-fault motor vehicle is underinsured with regard to your personal injury damages. The best way to really explain this is to give a hypothetical example: Mrs. “A” is driving south down Main St. Main St. is a roadway that has one lane of traffic in the south direction and one in the north direction. Mrs. “A” comes to a stop at a red light at the intersection of 1st Ave. Mr. “B” is also traveling southbound on Main St. Mr. “B” is travelling at an excessive rate of speed, is on his cell phone and not paying attention. He fails to see that Mrs. “A” has stopped at the red light and slams into the rear of Mrs. “A”. In this example clearly Mr. “B” is going to be found at complete fault for the accident. Mr. “B’ has a limited liability insurance policy in which Mrs. “A” will only be able to recover a maximum of $25,000.00. Problem is that Mrs. “A” was significantly injured. Mrs. “A” needed to be hospitalized for 2 weeks following the accident and during that time she had multiple surgeries to both her right shoulder and right leg. Mrs. “A” will have a permanent loss of range of motion in both her shoulder and leg and although she was paid part of her salary due to her no-fault coverage she still had a loss of earnings of approximately $200,000.00. Clearly Mrs. “A”’s injuries and losses far exceed the $25,000.00 she can recover from Mr. “B”’s insurance. Luckily, Mrs. “A” protected herself for just the situation as she has a SUM endorsement on her own insurance policy of $250,000.00. So, Mrs. “A”’s attorney must first go and obtain the ENTIRE $25,000.00 liability policy of Mr. “B”. This is important as the rules in the State of NY clearly state that to trigger SUM you must obtain the ENTIRE limit of the liability policy of the at fault driver. Also, before accepting the $25,000.00 policy of Mr. “B”, Mrs. “A”’s attorney must get the approval of the SUM carrier to accept the settlement. With this Mrs. “A”’s attorney will have to satisfy certain requirements, including showing proof of no additional liability insurance for Mr. “A”. After getting an actual approval in writing to settle with Mr. “B”, the SUM coverage of Mrs. “A” will then be triggered. Mrs. “A” is then entitled to continue her SUM claim against her own insurance company. However her maximum amount of recovery will be limited to the policy limit MINUS her recovery from Mr. “B”. So for this example Mrs. “A”’s maximum recovery from her SUM endorsement is $225,000.00 ($250,000.00 SUM policy limit MINUS $25,000.00 recovered from Mr. “B”). Now, this does not mean that Mrs. “A” will recover that full amount of $225,000.00 but that is the most she can recover. Luckily Mrs. “A”, who lives in the Village of Briarcliff Manor within the Town of Ossining, County of Westchester, retained a quality NY lawyer, like The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C., and based on the significance of her injuries and her loss of earnings her attorney was able to obtain her the full $225,000.00 recovery. As you can see Mrs. “A” having the foresight to protect herself with her own SUM insurance was able to recover a significantly larger amount of money. If Mrs. “A” had a limited SUM policy of $25,000.00, her policy would have never triggered and instead of a total recovery of $250,000.00 ($25,0000.00 from the at fault driver PLUS the $225,000.00 from her SUM policy) she would have been limited to the $25,000.00 recovery of Mr. “B”’s liability policy. This situation laid out above if the exact reason why it is so important for an auto accident victim to contact an attorney to see if they may have a SUM claim. At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. we have successfully helped numerous auto accident victims throughout Westchester County and the State of New York with their SUM claims.
What Is UM Insurance?
As stated above UM stands for Uninsured Motorist coverage, but what does that exactly mean? The UM coverage of your insurance policy may be triggered if one of the following occurs: the insurer of the at fault motor vehicle denies coverage or becomes insolvent, the at fault motor vehicle is not covered by a liability policy or you are the victim of a hit and run motor vehicle incident. Let’s take the same hypothetical from above, however this time instead of Mr. “B” having a $25,000.00 liability auto policy it turns out that Mr. “B” was not insured (or fell into one of the other categories mentioned above). Once Mrs. “A”’s attorney can provide the proof to her auto insurance carrier that Mr.”B” was uninsured, Mrs. “A”’s UM coverage will be triggered. In most instances in the State of NY a person’s SUM coverage will be the same monetary limit as their UM coverage. So for this example we will say that Mrs. “B” has the same coverage and her UM limit is $250,000.00. In this instance her maximum amount of recovery from her own insurance company will be $250,000.00. There is no deduction in this instance as Mrs. “A” could not recover anything from the at fault driver as Mr. “B” was uninsured. Now, again this does not mean Mrs. “A” will recover that full amount of $225,000.00 but that is the most she can recover. To repeat what was stated above, luckily Mrs. “A”, who lives in the Village of Briarcliff Manor within the Town of Ossining, County of Westchester, retained a quality NY lawyer, like The Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C., and based on the significance of her injuries and her loss of earnings her attorney was able to obtain her the full $250,000.00 recovery. As you can see Mrs. “A” having the foresight to protect herself with her own UM insurance was able to recover a significant amount of money when the person who actually caused the accident was not even insured. Now, let’s Mr. “B” is still uninsured but Mrs. “A” only had a UM policy limit of $25,000.00. Mrs. “A” would still be able to recover up to $25,000.00 from her UM insurance, however that is a far cry from what her actual losses were due to this accident. That is why it is so important for a person to insure themselves correctly. If you think you may have a UM claim it is important to contact an attorney immediately. At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. we have successfully helped numerous auto accident victims throughout Westchester County and the State of New York with their UM claims.
Generally, the SUM/UM coverage on the insurance policy is a writer to the insurance policy for any amount above the mandatory minimum. As such, it is very important to review your policy of insurance to be sure that you are insuring yourself and your family sufficiently in case you are involved in an accident and the at fault party is either uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance. You should consult your insurance professional to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to protect yourself and your family. Furthermore, at the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C. we give free consultations to anyone to review their automobile coverage and set forth an explanation with regard to the SUM and UM insurance coverages and the impact it may have upon them in case of an accident. At the Law Offices of Spencer M. Fein, P.C., we represent individuals from the entire state of New York, including Ossining, Mt. Kisco, White Plains, Yonkers and Brewster, that are harmed due to the negligence of others.