What is Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) Coverage?

New York drivers are required to carry automobile insurance to protect others on the road who may be injured by their negligence. However, not everyone follows this law.

Some motorists may only carry minimum liability coverage, which is not always enough. Supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage provides extra protection that will pay your losses. Insurance companies are required to offer SUM coverage, and if your policy includes it, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to receive compensation beyond the other driver’s limits.

Do I need SUM coverage if I have no-fault insurance?

If you are injured in an accident, your no-fault insurance will pay for at least part of your medical bills and possibly other out-of-pocket expenses. If your injury is severe or you have sustained property damage to your vehicle, you will need to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance.

When a liable driver does not have enough (or any) liability insurance, they are still legally responsible– as long as your injuries qualify as serious under state law. This means you have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for the costs over and above your no-fault policy limits– as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, uninsured or underinsured drivers are unlikely to have assets that you can collect even if you win a lawsuit. If you have SUM, your policy will pay this for you.

Auto insurance coverage requirements

Each state sets minimum auto insurance coverage requirements. In New York, in addition to having no-fault personal injury protection, drivers must have at least the following in liability coverage:

  • $10,000 in property damage
  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a single person involved in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident

The cost of a serious injury can easily exceed these limits. When you select an auto policy, selecting higher liability limits can protect you from personal exposure as a defendant. In addition, high SUM limits will provide you with relief if an uninsured or underinsured motorist injures you.

Do you have SUM coverage?

If you have a New York auto insurance policy acquired after June 18, 2018, it automatically includes SUM coverage– equal to your bodily injury liability coverage limits unless you specifically opted out of it. If you acquired your policy before June 2018, you might not have this, or it may only be equal to the liability coverage minimums. It is a good idea to review your policy and consider adding supplemental coverage if it is not there.

Filing a SUM claim

If you intend to file a SUM claim, your policy likely requires you to notify the company as soon as you can. If you do not, the company may be able to deny the claim.

Regardless of how much coverage the other party has, you can only make a claim up to the limits of your SUM policy. In other words, if you have $100,000 in SUM coverage, you can only recover $100,000 regardless of whether the at-fault driver was completely uninsured or had $50,000 in liability coverage available.

To be eligible to receive SUM compensation, there must be evidence that the other driver was at fault, that they were uninsured or underinsured, and that the accident caused your losses. It may seem like an easy process since it involves dealing with your own insurance company, but it can still be a grueling fight.

The company may question how the accident occurred or the extent of your losses. Having an attorney on your side can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Discuss your accident with a lawyer

There is no time to waste after a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Even when dealing with your own policy, the insurance company may make a low settlement offer. However, the attorneys at Douglas and London are here to review the circumstances of your case and help you fight for full compensation. Call today to speak with a car accident lawyer in New York about your case. Consultations are free and private.