Michaels Bersani Kalabanka’s auto accident attorneys are aware of how complicated New York auto insurance may be. The New York auto insurance statute, Insurance Law section 5102, is difficult to comprehend. This is why we’ve compiled this concise explanation of how everything works for our Syracuse clients:
Single Vehicle Accident
- No-fault insurance: No-fault insurance must cover all medical expenses and lost wages resulting from injuries sustained in a collision. Whether or not the driver was at fault, this holds true for both the driver and the passengers. Each person’s coverage “limit” is $50,000, which includes both lost income and medical expenses. The lost income claim has a time limit of three years following the injury, whereas the medical care claim has no time limit. The two types of coverage listed above (collision and no-fault) are straightforward to get and typically do not require the services of an attorney. To fight for your “bodily injury” insurance coverage (described below), however, you will typically require a car accident attorney, regardless of where in New York you were hurt.
- Collision insurance: If the vehicle’s owner has the optional “collision” insurance, his own insurance must pay to repair or replace the vehicle if it is damaged or destroyed. Typically, a “deductible” of up to $500 will apply. Without “collision” insurance, a vehicle is not covered for damages.
- Bodily injury insurance: This coverage includes compensation for “pain and suffering” as well as medical bills and lost wages not covered by “no-fault” insurance. To access coverage for pain and suffering compensation, a passenger in a single-vehicle incident must demonstrate that the driver was at fault for the collision and that he or she suffered a “severe injury.” Article 5102 of the Insurance Law defines “serious injury” in detail. Learn more about it here. The quantity of available insurance for passengers is contingent on the amount of insurance obtained for the vehicle. In New York, the minimum coverage is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
- Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Insurance: If you sustained severe injuries that are “worth” more than the policy limit of the automobile you were a passenger in, you must seek additional coverage from your own auto insurance. SUM stands for Supplemental Underinsured Motorist coverage. It operates as follows: Consider that the car you were riding in has only $25,000 in bodily injury coverage, but your injuries are worth $50,000. Assume your own auto insurance policy provides $50,000 in “SUM” coverage. You can then receive $25,000 from the car’s insurance policy in which you were a passenger, plus $25,000 from your own “SUM” policy, for a total of $50,000.
When multiple vehicles are involved in a collision, insurance concerns become more complex. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that only two automobiles were engaged.
- Property Damage Insurance: If both vehicles have collision insurance (see above), then the owner can file a claim against his or her own collision insurance for repair or replacement costs. However, if the other car was at fault, the owner of the vehicle that was not at fault can make a claim directly against the at-fault vehicle’s “property damage” insurance instead of his or her own collision insurance. The advantage of filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance is that no “deductible” is deducted. If you apply under your own policy’s collision insurance, a deductible (up to $500) is withheld. However, your insurer must repay this deductible to you if and when it recovers the full cost of the damage from the at-fault vehicle’s insurance in a “subrogation claim” According to our Syracuse car accident attorneys, it is preferable to file a claim for property damage with the insurance company of the car at fault rather than with your own insurer. However, if the other insurer gives you difficulties, you can rely on your collision coverage. If you do not have collision insurance, your only choice is to file a claim against the insurer of the driver at fault.
- No-fault Insurance: This operates similarly to a single-vehicle collision. Each vehicle’s driver and passengers receive no-fault coverage of up to $50,000 for combined medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who was at fault.
- Bodily Injury Insurance: Everyone injured in the accident other than the at-fault driver, including his own passengers, can bring a claim against the insurance for the car the at-fault driver was driving (and also against any auto insurance for cars he personally owns) for the injuries they sustained, but in New York, they can only do so if they have a “serious injury” (see above) or if their medical expenses or lost income exceeds what no-fault insurance paid. A “serious injury” is defined by Insurance Law section 5102. Read about it here.
- Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Insurance: If you have a severe injury, your own motor insurance policy may provide you with additional bodily injury coverage. Refer to the preceding section (concerning single-vehicle incidents) to determine how your SUM coverage will benefit you.