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Limo crash, Lime Bikes
and your car insurance
The following is the 12th in a series of Odessa File columns by Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, regarding news of a legal nature that readers might find timely in this ever-changing world.
By Jim Reed
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira
Two recent news stories that received a lot of interest -- the Oct. 6 crash of the stretch limousine in Schoharie, N.Y., that killed 20 people, and the arrival of Lime Bikes this year -- don't appear at first to have much in common. But there is an important thread that Schuyler County residents should know about.
Your car insurance connects these seemingly disparate dots: Your insurance policy could protect you if you are a passenger in another vehicle or riding a bike that is involved in a collision with another vehicle operated by a driver with insufficient or no insurance.
Take the limo crash, for example. Most people think a limo will have great insurance. Unfortunately, that is not always true. In New York, owners of stretch limos are not required to have much insurance at all. A limo that can hold up to 20 people is only required to have a total of $150,000 of liability coverage to cover everyone in that limo in the event of a crash.
The families of the 20 people killed in the crash, in some cases with small children, would only be able to recover $7,500 per person from the insurance company -- if the limo company had the state-required minimum coverage.
What the state requires is ridiculously low but the one thing motorists can do to protect themselves and their families is make sure they are protected on THEIR car insurance. The good news is it's easy, and not terribly expensive, to better protect yourself.
On your insurance policy, there is a section called Supplemental Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage. You should make sure you have at least $250,000 of SUM coverage in your vehicle insurance policy, and more, if possible. The SUM coverage will protect you and your family in the event of injury or death in your vehicle or someone else's vehicle (for instance, if you were in that limo), or if you are struck by a vehicle while riding a bike.
If you have a question about your car insurance policy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to provide a free evaluation of your coverage.
And don't worry. I don't sell insurance so I am not trying to sell you something you don't need. I just want to make sure people are better protected.
-- Update on a recent column: My wife, Meg, and I are back on our tandem bicycle and happy to be riding together again, fully recovered from the Aug. 19 crash we suffered while riding on Logan Road in the town of Hector. You can read what happened here if you missed it, but in a nutshell, a major structural failure in the bike sent us crashing to the ground, and we were fortunate that a terrific Good Samaritan named Rusty came along and drove us a few miles to our home after the crash.
Since the crash, our terrific bike mechanic, Paul Kingsbury of Kingsbury Cyclery in Elmira, has installed a new, thicker seat post that looks sturdier than the first one. The original seat post manufacturer told me they have never had a seat post fail that they know of, so they are looking for answers. We look forward to learning what their investigation finds.
My thanks to everyone who sent me a note or stopped me on the street to express their concerns and say how relieved they are that Meg and I were not injured. Meg had some scrapes on one of her elbows from the fall, but we were both back out on our own bikes the next day.
Thanks for reading,
Photo in text: Attorney Jim Reed.
To see Jim Reed's first column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's second column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's third column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's fourth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's fifth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's sixth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's seventh column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's eighth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's ninth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's tenth column, click here.
To see Jim Reed's 11th column, click here.
To read Adam Gee's first column, click here.