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On December 18, 2017, Governor Cuomo signed a bill (S5644B/ A8519A), which amended New York Insurance § 3420(f) requiring all new automobile insurance policies to initially provide supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorists (“SUM”) coverage at limits equal to the insured’s bodily injury liability limits.   The insured retains the option of electing a lower SUM limit for a lower premium.

For example, if you have $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, you will now also have $100,000 in SUM coverage, unless you affirmatively opt out.

Previously, the Insurance Law only required the availability of such coverage but did not automatically initially match the SUM limits to the bodily injury liability limits.   In fact, prior to this amendment, the majority of policy holders unknowingly only carried the statutory minimum of $25,000 in SUM coverage because the insurance carriers were not required to inform their insureds of its existence let alone match the bodily injury liability limits.

The effective date of the bill is June 16, 2018 (180 days after its signing), and this amendment applies only to new policies issued on or after the effective date.  It does not apply to preexisting policies that are renewed after the effective date.

In what was probably a concession to the insurance lobby, this amendment will expire on June 30, 2020 unless subsequent legislative action is taken.

What is SUM coverage?

Supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage or “SUM” for short is additional liability coverage that protects the insured, those family members living in the insured’s home and occupants of the insured’s vehicle in situations where they are injured by a vehicle with inadequate or no insurance coverage, including hit-and-run situations.

As an example, if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident where the other vehicle only carried a $25,000 liability policy, your $100,000 SUM policy would provide for an additional $75,000 in coverage.

It is very important to note that SUM coverage follows you around.  You are not only protected in your own vehicle but also any vehicle that you may be traveling in.  It also protects you as a cyclist or a pedestrian involved in automobile accident.

Since this amendment only affects new policies, check your coverage today and be sure to raise your SUM limits to your bodily injury liability coverage limits.   You and your family’s protection is well worth the small additional premium.

Click here to read the actual language of the bill: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/a8519/amendment/a