Insurance tips for runners

Many runners, bicyclists and triathletes are unaware of how their auto and homeowners' insurance policies might apply to them. Here are some tips:

1. Generally, pedestrians (that includes runners and usually bicyclists) are covered under auto policies when injured in a motor vehicle accident. If you live in a "no-fault" State and are injured by a car while running, you should be able to collect for your medical bills under your basic no-fault payments or personal injury protection coverage, however it is named in your State. Auto coverage varies from State to State, so you need to check the specifics of your policy. Do not assume that the basic coverage, which might be only U.S. $5,000 or U.S. $10,000 is enough. That might only cover your first day in the hospital. You should be able to purchase much higher limits. Do not assume that the driver who hit you will have adequate liability insurance or have insurance at all. And it may be that he is not responsible for the accident, in which case you would not collect from his liability insurance. If you live in a non "no-fault" State, the applicable coverage would be "Medical Payments." Here again, you should consider higher limits than the basic.

2. Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) will apply to the pedestrian/runner/bicyclist when the responsible driver does not have liability insurance. While the no-fault coverage mentioned above will take care of medical bills, the Uninsured Motorist coverage will also take care of lost wages, and the pain and suffering aspect. It applies just as the responsible driver's liability insurance would. Most people carry only the basic limits, which are not enough for a serious injury.

3. Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM or UDM) will apply to the pedestrian/runner/bicyclist when the responsible driver does not have enough liability insurance to cover your injuries. Let's say that the responsible driver carries only U.S. $20,000 in liability coverage, but your injuries are worth U.S. $100,000. Your Underinsured Motorist coverage will kick in over and above the responsible driver's liability coverage. As with Uninsured Motorist, most people carry only the basic coverage. It is wise to carry U.S. $100,000 or more coverage for both Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverages.

4. Personal Liability coverage. Believe it or not, a runner can cause an accident and be sued. His or her liability protection would come under the homeowners' or tenants' liability insurance. If you dart out into the road and cause a driver to lose control and be injured, your protection won't be found under your auto insurance. It would come from the homeowners' or tenants' policy. This coverage might also apply to a race director or race volunteer who is responsible for an accident. If the person is being paid for his or her services, it might not apply as most policies have a "business pursuits" exclusion.

Again, insurance and liability laws vary from State to State, so it is difficult to generalize. Check your policy and with your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage and the right amount. Too many runners, cyclists, and triathletes have been hospitalized with big bills and not enough insurance to cover them or the additional compensatory damages. The basic or required limits in most States have not kept pace with the increase in hospital costs.

Credits - would like to thank Michael E. Tymn for the authorization to reprint his article "Some Insurance Tips for Runners". Michael E. Tymn, CPCU, AIC, is a runner and a retired insurance company claim manager.

Since September 7, 2007 - © Aerostato, Seattle - All Rights Reserved.

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