Doing these things BEFORE you are involved in a crash will help ensure that your post-crash experience goes as smoothly as possible:
1. PROPER IDENTIFICATION: Make sure you have proper identification with you so that if you are unconscious or unable to communicate clearly, emergency providers can figure out who you are and whom to contact. There are several ways to do this:
a. Invest in an identification bracelet. My family uses RoadId (www.roadid.com) (*No, I do not receive any compensation from RoadId for referring customers!) RoadId provides engraved steel badges that contain your name and emergency contact information. These badges go on simple silicone wristbands, FitBits, and other tethers.
b. You can purchase stickers online that list emergency contact information. These stickers may be placed on your helmet, on the back of your phone, in your wallet, etc.
c. You can add your emergency contact information to your cell phone. Depending on the phone there are different ways to do this. For some examples, check out this article at PCMAG or this one at WIKIHOW.
2. SUFFICIENT INSURANCE: Make sure that you have insurance that will cover you in case of a bicycle crash. This can sometimes be difficult to determine on your own. I am happy to discuss insurance with you (at no charge) to help you determine whether you are covered. To visualize the insurances below, imagine a complicated Venn diagram of what each of these do and do not cover:
a. Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage. If you own a car and it is insured, you have the option of adding UIM coverage. Should a motorist who does not have insurance or who only carries a minimum level of insurance crash into you with their car, UIM insurance provides you with coverage for a specified amount in excess of the driver’s policy. So, for example, if you had to spend two days at Harborview and the medical bills are in excess of the driver’s $25,000.00 insurance coverage (the minimum in Washington State), your UIM coverage would be responsible for paying anything that was not paid by the driver, up to your policy maximum.
b. Personal Injury Protection. Personal Injury Protection or PIP Insurance, provides reimbursement for medical expenses and some wage loss while you are recovering from a crash. If you are hit by a car while you are riding your bicycle, the driver’s PIP policy should provide coverage first. If you also carry PIP coverage, then your policy would start after the driver’s policy was exhausted. In Washington State drivers are encouraged to carry $10,000.00 in PIP coverage but they may decline it.
c. What if I don’t own a car? This gets to be a bit trickier but it is not insurmountable. Some people opt to have their names added to the policies of friends or roommates who own a car. Others opt for what is called Broad Form Coverage or Non-Owner Car Insurance. Through this type of policy, you should be able to obtain UIM insurance that will cover you should you be hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Many of these policies also offer PIP coverage. As with any policy, it is important that you read the policy language to be sure that you are covered. Not sure what it means? Make an appointment with me, bring it by, and we can go through it together. We can laugh at the legalese together.
d. Liability Insurance. This insurance covers you should you injure someone else or damage someone else’s property. If you are riding your bicycle, the most common insurance that would potentially provide this coverage is your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. The only way to determine if you are covered is to look at your policy. For an example of how I discovered that I was NOT covered because I added an electric assist to my Xtracycle Edgerunner, see my blog post at BLOGLINK.
e. Health Insurance. Health insurance is critical in helping you with medical bills following a crash. If there is no PIP insurance or if PIP insurance runs out, you will be required to pay for your medical treatment right away; however, because you still may be recovering from your injuries it may be too early to make a claim with the driver’s insurer. Health Insurance will help reduce your medical bills during this period. Health Insurers have negotiated rates with certain medical providers. This means that (typically) your rates will be lower if health insurance is billed than if you are billed directly (and you will pay less out-of-pocket). Some providers will agree to treat you on credit (called treating on a lien) so that you do not need to pay them back until after your claim is resolved with the driver who hit you. (https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/)
f. Cycling Insurance. There are some independent insurance companies (such as Velo Insurance and Markel) that offer policies geared towards those of us who don’t own a car but do ride a bicycle. I do not have direct experience with what these policies may or may not cover. If you have one of these policies, I’d be happy to read through the policy and discuss it with you. Some examples are: www.markelbicycleinsurance.com/; velosurance.com/
g. How much insurance should I buy? As much as you can reasonably afford. Typically, once you get insurance, increasing your limits does not cost as much as you might think. The cost of medical treatment has been skyrocketing for years. Should your injuries require surgery or a stay at Harborview, minimal coverage amounts would typically no longer be sufficient to reimburse you for these escalating costs.
DO IT TODAY: PICK ONE FORM OF IDENTIFICATION TO CARRY WITH YOU AND CHECK YOUR RECORDS TO BE SURE YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT COVERAGE!