I have a 52 year old client who loves his bicycle. He rides it every day early in the evening and has done so for years. He is a family man with 3 children and a wife of 25 years. One morning he was out for a ride on a busy road on a crisp summer evening. The sun was going down and he was about half way into his ride enjoying the end of this particular day. Then every thing went black.
He was struck from behind by a car travelling 55 miles an hour and was thrown 120 feet into the gravel and dust. His injuries included broken back, broken ribs, had a concussion, broken left leg, broken left arm, his shin muscle tore away from the bone, he bit through his tongue, part of his face tore away from his skull, his head was gashed to the skull in a few places, and injured his right shoulder. He almost died that day. An angel showed up out of nowhere in the form of a nurse and helped him breath because his lungs were filling up with dirt and dust. The ambulance showed up and got him to the hospital where he had to wait until the next morning where 3 surgeons with different specialties operated on him for 8 hours.
He was moved to the trauma unit where he spent a week. Trauma costs are $25,000 a day. Moving forward he endured almost 3 months of physical therapy where he was limited to a wheelchair and a bed every day. He was out of work for 3 months although he will tell you it should have been 6. He was in great shape and had no desire to be a burden on his family so his recovery is not indicative of others who have sustained similar injuries. He has made as full of a recovery as can be expected, but lives with some pain 24 hours a day and continues to get non medical treatment at least once a month. He has titanium on the bones and two rods up his spine. He is back on the bike he loves so much and doing many of the things he loves, none more important than watching his kids grow up.
He currently give talks about bike safety, about getting your mind right after enduring such a tragedy, and always talks about the importance of Underinsured Motorist coverage.
He was hit by a driver who had the state minimum liability coverage which is $25,000. That means the insurance company of the driver, was only obligated to pay that amount. In an accident of this magnitude, the driver is liable for all expenses incurred including, medical, physical therapy and loss of income. $25,000 covered the ambulance ride and about an hour of work that the doctors performed on him that fateful day.
Who pays the rest? You can always go after the driver for the balance due but as they say, you can’t get blood from a stone. The driver quite possibly will have his wages garnished for many years to pay that off. There is a coverage we had on my insured’s policy called “underinsured motorists“. This coverage will pay for any expenses incurred if you are the victim of an underinsured motorist.
Now when I met this client, and when I was quoting his insurance, his underinsured motorist limits were 100/300 ($100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident). The policy he bought from me, had limits of 250/500. Farmers paid out $230,000 to help pay the additional expenses on this claim.
Many people don’t know, if they want to raise their limits from 100/300 to 250/500 is usually $1-$3 per car per month. Insurance is a strange product. It is something you need, but never want to use. Things happen. Terrible things happen. People never think it can happen to them but accidents like this happen every day. Insurance is put in place, so that if that terrible thing happens to you, your life will not be put under crushing financial strain. Do yourself and your family a favor and review your insurance. It could change your life.