Being Prepared and Getting a Recovery for Your Auto Accident; Part III–SUM Coverage


In Parts I and II we discussed optional insurance coverages which provide extra protection in the event of an automobile accident. 

This Part discusses another optional coverage, Supplemental Uninsured Coverage or SUM.

SUM protects you where

  1. the car that caused your injuries has no insurance or is unknown (a hit and run); and
  2. the defendant’s insurance coverage is lower than your own coverage.

Let us look at each component separately.

I.  Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist Coverage or UM protects you where the other vehicle either does not have insurance or is unidentified, the hit and run.   The injured person’s own insurance policy will provide an award if the injuries are serious.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Jane Perkins is operating her car, and she is stopped at a light.  She is rear-ended by a car which leaves the scene is not identified.  Jane sustains a knee injury, and she has surgery.  Jane can seek recovery from her own policy under the UM coverage.  She can either settle with her own insurance company or proceed to arbitration or trial.
  • Sal Rodriguez is crossing the street, and he is stuck by an automobile which ran a red light.  Sal had a fractured ankle.  The vehicle owner allowed his insurance to lapse.  Sal is not without a recovery.  Sal owns a car, and he can get recovery against his own insurance company under the UM coverage.

UM is not liability coverage.  Liability coverage protects you in the event that another party sues you for personal injuries or property damage.  You are required to carry liability.  However, UM protects you so that you can have a personal injury recovery even if the other vehicle had no insurance.  Therefore, UM coverage protects you. 

UM coverage is mandated, but you can carry it at the minimum limits.  You should get the highest coverage possible.  It is in your interest to buy higher UM limits to cover you, your family, and friends.

II.  Underinsurance

The other component of SUM is underinsurance.

Underinsurance covers you where you have very serious injuries and the other vehicle’s insurance is less than your own.

Here is an example:

  • Karen Colby is driving her car, and she stops for a red light.  Her car is rear-ended.  She sustains  multiple fractures which require surgery.  The other vehicle only had the minimal, required insurance limits of $25,000.  Her injuries were worth much more than the $25,000 offered by the other insurance carrier.   However, Karen carried underinsurance of $300,000.  That means that once she collects the $25,000 from the other vehicle she can seek recovery up to $275,000 against her own insurance. 

Again, it is your best interest to carry good underinsurance.

III.  SUM Coverage

The UM and underinsurance components fall within one limit, i.e.,  SUM.   When you buy $100,000/300,000 SUM coverage you are getting those amounts for both UM and underinsurance.

We have handled many cases involving SUM coverage.  If you have been involved in an automobile accident, please call me at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, 1/18/09, www.seitelman.com.

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