Bicyclists do not usually consider taking out insurance policies on their bikes, but bicycle accidents can be devastating events. People who are involved in serious crashes can often suffer severe injuries that require hospitalization, extensive medical treatment, and rehabilitation. In these cases, the victim might be unable to return to work for weeks, months, or longer.
When this happens, the injured cyclist may need to explore their legal options when it comes to securing compensation from the party that caused the crash. Most serious bicycle accidents are caused by negligent drivers, and all motorists are required to maintain minimum levels of automobile insurance in Alabama.
In reality, many drivers in Alabama lack auto coverage. Even when a driver is fully insured, it may be possible that your damages will exceed the limits of their insurance policy. It is crucial to understand how an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy could protect you.
Table of Contents
How Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Applies to Bicycle Accidents
When a bicyclist has UM/UIM coverage on their auto insurance policy, the coverage can apply to bicycle accidents caused by other drivers who are uninsured or underinsured.
When the negligent driver lacks sufficient coverage, then the UIM policy can provide coverage in addition to the limits of the negligent driver’s automobile insurance policy. This means that if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver maintaining only the minimum liability requirements of $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 per accident, your UM / UIM policy could cover damages in excess of those limits.
If the at-fault driver has no insurance or flees the scene and is never found, you could still collect UM benefits under your auto policy. This coverage could also extend to your children and other members of your household who are hurt in bicycle crashes caused by motorists.
Why Do I Need UM / UIM Coverage as a Cyclist in Alabama?
You need UM / UIM coverage on your own auto insurance to protect yourself in the event that you are ever involved in a bicycle accident with another vehicle. Without this form of insurance, you are risking another driver not having high enough limits to cover all costs of your injuries and possibly being forced to pay all expenses out of your own pocket.
UM / UIM insurance is also extremely valuable if you are involved in a bicycle crash caused by an uninsured driver. UM / UIM insurance can also provide benefits when you have been struck by a hit-and-run driver.
How Alabama Cyclists Can Be Sure They Have the Correct Type of Coverage
When you use a bicycle regularly, you will want to be sure that your automobile insurance policy provides all of the protection that you will need for possible accidents.
UM / UIM policies are often recommended simply for protection against uninsured and underinsured drivers who cause motor vehicle crashes, but the policies also provide very valuable forms of protection in bicycle accident cases.
It is a good idea to have an attorney review your auto policy to make sure you are adequately covered in the event of a bicycle crash caused by a motorist with too little insurance or no coverage at all.
Harvey B. Morris is a lifelong Alabamian who has been practicing law in Huntsville since getting his law degree and passing the state bar in 1966.