There are two types of important insurance coverage contained in every Oregon automobile insurance policy; many riders do not know that they have been paying for these types of insurance for years. There are also rules that the insurance companies must follow in communicating with citizens; knowing these rules may help you in your next encounter with the insurance system.
1. Personal Injury Protection
Every Oregon motorist’s insurance policy contains Personal Injury Protection (also known as “PIP”). PIP provides certain minimum coverages and can be “stacked,” meaning that when more than one policy is applicable the benefits accumulate for the benefit of the claimant. The Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) contain certain statutory minimums for PIP coverage which include up to $15,000.00 for medical expenses and one year of wage loss up to $1,250 per month. PIP is "no-fault," in that an injured party may make a claim against the policy regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
2. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The second type is uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage, providing all sums the injured person “shall be legally entitled to recover as damages for bodily injury or death.” (ORS 742.500) UM or UIM coverage provides coverage as if the uninsured driver had a liability insurance policy. The injured person makes a claim against his or her own insurance policy for their damages. In the case of a serious accident caused by an uninsured driver/underinsured driver, UM or UIM coverage is the best protection for an injured rider. While the Oregon statutory minimum is $25,000.00, with today’s high medical costs it is advisable to have at least four times that amount. As with most insurance purchases, the higher ranges of insurance coverage provide more insurance for fewer dollars above the statutory minimum, so higher limit policies are usually a very good deal for the dollar. UM and UIM coverage apply to bicyclists, so long as an accident is the fault of the uninsured or underinsured driver.
The legal relationship between the various types of coverage in a serious accident is quite complex. In some instances, coverage may be denied or limited depending upon policy language and benefit amounts. Seek professional assistance from a lawyer knowledgeable about insurance claims before you accept any representations about whether an accident is covered by a particular insurance policy.
Frequently, serious accidents are caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers. Even if an accident is caused by the bicyclist, PIP coverage (which is no-fault) will apply to provide some benefits. Bicyclists would be well advised to purchase UM or UIM policies with high policy limits to protect themselves from major injuries caused by financially irresponsible drivers.