There is a big difference in how these damages are treated – the difference depends upon whether the cyclist owns a car.
In Florida, if the cyclist owns a car, his/her own car insurance must pay medical bills and lost wages through “no fault insurance”. The cyclist’s own car insurance is “primary” for paying medical bills. If the cyclist suffers an injury, even if the motorist caused the accident and does not have car insurance, the cyclist can use his/her own car insurance, through “uninsured motorist coverage” to provide compensation for the cycling injuries. Every cyclist who owns a car should purchase uninsured motorist coverage!
If the cyclist does not own a car, the car insurance for the owner of the car which collided with the cyclist will provide “no fault insurance”. The car owner’s insurance is “primary” for paying medical bills. But if the car is not insured, and the cyclist also does not have his/her own car insurance to utilize, the cyclist may be in a tough spot.
How should people who only own a bike protect themselves in case of a crash?
What can lessen the blow? There is no perfect answer, but here is some advice.
The cyclists who don’t own a motor vehicle (and don't have auto insurance) can protect themselves by:
- Making sure they have health insurance such as BlueCross Blue Shield, Aetna, United Healthcare, or governmental coverage such as Medicare, Medicaid, or through the Affordable Care Act. These insurers and benefit providers can provide payment of medical bills for a bicycle accident.
- Consider purchasing special insurance for cyclists. Bicycle insurance policies may cover medical bills or injuries arising from a bicycle crash, and may also provide coverage for the damage to your bike. Oftentimes, the coverage by these companies for bike damage is “replacement” coverage than allow you to purchase a similar but brand new bike. Without this type of coverage, you may only be offered the value of your old bike by the at fault motorist’s insurance. Special Bicyclist Coverage is offered by a variety of companies and insurances, which include Velosurance, Spoke Insurance and Markel Bicycle Insurance.
- Check with your employer to see if you are covered under a short-term or long-term disability insurance policy. If not, consider purchasing individual short term and long term disability insurance.
If you need legal advice for a bicycle accident you have been in please contact me via email or give me a call at (904) 632-2424. I've been defending the rights of injured cyclists for 30 years in the state of Florida. Consultations are free of charge.