While New York requires all drivers to have car insurance in the event of an accident, that doesn’t mean their insurance covers the full cost of their damages. If you’ve used up your maximum insurance coverage and are still facing medical bills, you may seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance.
If the other driver lacks coverage, you may be able to file an uninsured (UM), underinsured (UIM), or supplementary (SUM) claim with the help of an attorney.
Handling a claim against an underinsured motorist in New York can be difficult. Learn the process for these claims and how a skilled car accident attorney from Catalano Law can help you with your claim.
Under New York law, all drivers must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. These coverages are:
- $10,000 for property damage (cars, belongings, etc.)
- $25,000 for bodily injury liability (i.e., injuries to someone other than yourself)
- $50,000 for Personal Injury Protection, or PIP (injuries and medical treatment for yourself as a result of the accident)
Also required is $25,000 for uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This type of insurance allows you to seek compensation from your own insurer if you’re hit by a driver without insurance or suffer a hit-and-run.
Most insurance companies group UM coverage together with UIM for drivers injured by motorists who carry insurance but not enough to cover damages resulting from a car accident.
While the UM minimum is $25,000, you can purchase more. This additional coverage is called Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) insurance. All UM policies must have equal coverage for injury liability unless opted out of in writing.
New York uses a no-fault system for car accidents, where both drivers are compensated by their own insurance companies following a car accident. In most cases, the no-fault system prevents you from filing a personal injury claim against the other driver.
However, if the cost of your damages exceeds your total policy coverage or you suffered serious injury under state law, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company seeking compensation for your losses. If you have a valid claim, you will be paid from the other driver’s injury liability coverage.
However, sometimes the driver’s coverage isn’t sufficient. If your damages cost over $100,000, but the other driver’s injury liability coverage is the minimum $25,000, they are considered underinsured since their claim doesn’t recover the full remainder of your damages. In these cases, you may be able to file a UM/UIM/SUM claim.
UM and UIM coverages typically cover the same damages as a driver’s liability insurance. These damages resulting from bodily injury to you, all family members who reside in your household, and your car’s occupants include expenses such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Accident-related rehabilitation services or attendant care
- Legal fees incurred as a result of the crash
- Pain and suffering
Your UIM/SUM policy is not added to the damages you recover from your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance if they had minimal coverage. Instead, the other driver’s liability coverage is subtracted from your UIM/SUM coverage; what remains is your coverage:
Your maximum UIM/SUM policy – Driver’s max. injury liability coverage = Max. UIM/SUM coverage
For example, your maximum UIM coverage is $50,000, and the other driver’s injury liability coverage is $25,000. You would subtract the driver’s $25,000 from your $50,000 to get your UIM/SUM coverage limit of $25,000.
You cannot jump straight to filing a UIM/SUM claim after a car accident. These claims have prerequisites that must be met first.
- File and Accept All Possible Coverage: To file a claim, you must receive the maximum possible compensation from the other driver’s insurance policy. If you decline the offer or only accept part of it, you cannot pursue a claim.
- Alert Your Insurance Company: Most car insurance companies require you to notify them before you file a claim, typically in writing. Your attorney can review your policy for the proper filing procedure and ensure it’s submitted within the required timeframe.
- Prove the Other Driver’s Negligence: To obtain coverage, you must prove that the other driver acted negligently and that negligence led to the accident and your injuries. Your attorney can help you prove the claim with photos, videos, medical reports, and witness statements.
- Prove Your Coverage: UIM/SUM insurance only covers the policyholder, their spouse or household members, occupants of a car the policyholder was driving, and occupants of an insured car. You must prove that you are covered if you don’t hold the policy directly.
It can be difficult for the average person to understand the nuances of an underinsured motorist’s insurance claim, especially in the aftermath of a serious car accident. To simplify the process, consult with Catalano Law.
Our firm has extensive experience handling car accident claims in New York and can help you with every part of the process, whether you need assistance filing your claim or require representation.
Schedule a free consultation by phone, chat, or email to get started on your case.