Jim Dodson: I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. Welcome to our livestream. So, the title this week is, "Are You Assuming This Won't Happen to You?" Now, I'm talking about riding your bike and being hit by a driver who has little or no insurance. You know, no one, I get it. When we ride off every day to take a bike ride, no one wants to believe, and in fact, I think no one does believe, that their ride is going to end in some serious injury to them. I do the same thing, I have to tell you. And honestly, the odds are in our favor. The odds are that we're going to ride our bike. We're not going to be hit, we're not gonna suffer a significant injury. As a matter of fact, I think most clients who come to me have been riding for years without serious injury. But the reality is that when it strikes, it is really unforgiving. When something goes wrong, it can go badly wrong, be very costly. It can turn your life upside-down, and there's something we can do to prevent it, and that's what I wanna talk to you about here today.
Let me tell you about, over the last couple of weeks, I've had three, what I consider heartbreaking calls from three different riders with four things in common. These are all experienced cyclists, they're riding a regular route, and they did nothing wrong. So they had four things in common from these calls. First was that the driver was negligent. The driver made a mistake, the driver did something that caused the driver to crash into the cyclist. The second thing is, they all suffered a serious injury requiring a major surgery. The third thing is that the driver had no insurance, or the driver had a minimal policy. And the fourth thing is, unfortunately, the cyclist had no uninsured motorist coverage on their auto policy. So when we ride out every day, we place our hands, we place our lives, we place our welfare, we place our financial security, into the hands of these drivers out there, 40% of which have no insurance, unless we take the step to be proactive and protect ourselves, and that's what I want to talk to you about.
I have been preaching the message of rider safety, rider education, and riders insuring ourselves with uninsured motorist now for almost nine years. I feel like it's all I do, honestly. I feel like every time I go to speak to a group of cyclists, this is my message. We put it in our newsletters. I feel like I put it here on the livestream. But obviously, the message hasn't permeated down to everybody who actually is out there riding a bike, and I kinda get that, and I'm frustrated, because I want this message to get out there. People need to know it. Most people, quite frankly, don't understand insurance. They don't understand the need for uninsured motorist until they have their first crash. And I could just sit here and recount countless stories of people who did not have UM that they needed, and I have countless stories, quite frankly, of people who did have UM, and it was entirely needed, every penny of it, for the claim that we had.
So, I want to continue to raise this topic, because two things are at play here. Human nature is, "It won't happen to me." But it is happening to a lot of people. And when it does happen, the consequences can be devastating, and it's like, "I don't need that, you know? "I've got health insurance. "I just don't think that something's gonna happen." I think what I reckon that is, we're thinking about this like Russian roulette. You've got five chances on a six-round chamber that the bullet's not gonna be there. The problem is, that sixth round causes big problems. You know, I'm an advocate for cycling. I'm an advocate for cyclists. I'm an advocate for cycling safety and visibility and all the things that we talk about here on this program, and everything that I do, quite frankly. I want us to understand this issue, those of you listening, those of you who are going to listen to this later, to understand this issue, but take the next step, is to get your policy out, check your auto policy. Do you have UM? And I'm gonna tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get what I think is the coverage that is kind of the minimal coverage to protect you.
So, as I indicated previously, 40% of the cars on the road don't have UM, or excuse me, don't have bodily injury coverage for you and I. That means when you're riding down the road, four of the 10 cars that passed you today or tomorrow, whenever you ride next, have no liability insurance. They won't pay you a dime to get you out of the emergency room. So, then you have all the people that have insurance, but they only have the minimum. Maybe they might have $10,000, and they might have $25,000. So, of all the cars passing us every day, and think about, who are the best drivers? Are they the person with no insurance? Probably not. Are they the person with no skin in the game of life? Probably not. The best drivers tend to be the best insured drivers. Those are the people less likely to get into a crash. The worst drivers, unfortunately, too often, result in too many of the crashes or such a high percentage of the crashes.
And remember that the consequences of being hit by a driver with no insurance or too little insurance cover a broad waterfront of issues that can affect your life. The first is obviously the medical expenses. The cost of any type of a major surgery can easily be $100,000. I don't care if you're talking about a shoulder surgery or a back surgery, femur surgery. I mean, these are the things we've run into just this week. They're gonna be, minimally, gonna be $100,000. One of the people that I talked to recently, not only the driver had no UM, excuse me, no liability insurance. The cyclist had no UM, but the person had no health insurance, and the person had a surgery with nearly $100,000 in medical expenses. So really, really, really a hard lesson to learn. Very difficult to walk through that scenario with them. The other thing is that if you're employed, you have the issue of lost wages, or your ability to earn a living. Many people sometimes can't even return to the work that they were doing. So, that needs to be protected. If the driver has some insurance, but not enough insurance, you need coverage to pay for the additional requirements beyond what the driver's insurance would pay.
How about the fact that when someone, after we are injured, and we're dealing with the aftermath of that and the consequences of it, and you're lying there, you're immobilized, you're in rehabilitation, it turns your life upside-down. Everything you have experienced up until that point is not preparing you for what you're gonna go through right then. We throw about this term of "pain and suffering," but it really comes home to roost when you have a serious injury with surgery, and it can last a long time. Many people go from the surgical suite to the rehab suite. They might stay there for several weeks, and then they have home therapy and physical therapy and what have you, and it's kind of a long grind back to get out to do the things we do. You're entitled to be reimbursed for the loss of the quality of life, the pain and the suffering that we all go through, and the imbalance and things that it causes to those around us who love us. So those are the reasons why we need to be self-protecting ourself by getting uninsured motorist coverage. And I want to tell you exactly what that coverage is, what it covers, and why you need it before you leave your house every day on your bike.
As a reminder, I'm an injury lawyer. I have over 25 years of experience in Florida as an injury lawyer. For the past 10 years, I've been a road cyclist and representing cyclists who've been injured at the hands of negligent drivers. My office is in Clearwater, but I represent cyclists throughout Florida, whether you've been injured on the bike or as a passenger or as a driver in a car, as well as your friends and family. So, I have this unique combination of being an injury lawyer, but in cycling cases, bringing to bear the fact that I ride the same roads that you do, and I experience the same issues, dangers, and obstacles that we encounter on our rides every day as you do and understand them and can explain them and articulate that on your behalf to a claims adjuster or to a jury if necessary. I've helped hundreds of cyclists across Florida, and I clearly understand cycling cases and auto crashes. If you need me and you're in Florida, I'll be there to help you, just call.
So back on the issue of UM. So, a couple of things that I hear from people frequently, when they consider, "Do I really need to go to the expense of buying uninsured motorist coverage on my auto policy?" The first is, "Well, isn't the driver responsible?" the answer is yes, the driver's responsible. The driver made a mistake. The driver's hurt you. The driver's put you in the hospital. You need surgery. The driver's responsible. But how many drivers who cause an injury can write a check for 10,000 or 25,000 or 50,000, or, my God, 100,000 or 500,000? That's very few and far between. So, while the driver is responsible, that's why their insurance is standing in their place to pay, to make sure they're paying for the driver's responsibility. And if that driver doesn't have insurance, it is very difficult to wring money out of an uninsured person. Florida, as we all know, is set up as a debtor haven. Many famous people have come here to avoid their liabilities, and it's been in the news over the last 20 years pretty readily.
Secondly, what if I have health insurance? Why do I need uninsured motorist if I have health insurance? So, think about this for a minute. Let's say that you're fortunate enough to have a driver hit you with a $100,000 policy, and you have $100,000 surgery. It's paid for by your health insurance, and they pay $40,000 on your behalf. So remember that in any injury situation, whether you have health insurance or Medicare, that insurance company or Medicare sometimes will be reimbursed if you are paid by the person who caused the crash. So in our example, you get hit by a driver with 100,000 in coverage. You owe your health insurance, or you owe Medicare, $40,000. That's going to come out of the recovery available for you. So whatever your medical expenses are, that lien comes out of your settlement. So it reduces what you owe, what you will actually pay, rather.
The other thing is there's tons, whether you have health insurance or not, we have deductibles, we have copays. In this era of Obamacare, how many people are running around with five, $10,000 copay or deductible before their insurance even pays? That all comes out. You have lost wage issues and earning capacity issues. You know, if somebody's earning $60,000 a year, and they're unable to work for a year or two years, that's $120,000 potentially of lost earning capacity. Those things are compensable from your claim, in addition to the pain and the suffering.
So, let's talk a minute about uninsured motorists. So remember, this is a coverage that you can buy and should buy in Florida. As a matter of fact, when you call any insurance company and you order liability insurance on your policy, and let's say you order a $100,000, or what we call a 100-300 policy, that will pay any one person 100,000, but if there are multiple people involved, they would share 300,000 in liability insurance if you were at fault, an injury that you caused because of a mistake that you might have made. In Florida, the law presumes that you intend to buy the same level of uninsured motorist coverage. So in Florida, if you do nothing, your agent is going to sell you that 100/300 UM policy to go along with your liability policy that you're buying. As a matter of fact, for a person who has auto insurance, to end up with no UM or reduced UM on that policy, they actually have to sign a form that basically states in big, bold language, it's required under the statute, that you are giving up a very valuable right. It goes through, it has to be in a certain point type, and there's a check at the bottom, "I wanna wave uninsured motorist," or "I wanna take reduced uninsured motorist."
So, the way the law is structured, they assume that when you buy bodily injury liability, you also want UM. So people are not getting to opt out of it. And I think quite frankly, a lot of it comes from confusion. Maybe the insurance company is selling you something you don't need, or maybe you're not dealing with an agent anymore. We used to walk into a neighborhood agent's office and have a relationship with somebody and talk to them across the desk, look 'em in the eye and kind of hear what they're saying about why we need it and what the coverage is that we would be best suited for. That doesn't happen so much anymore. It's like, you're dealing with somebody online, or you're dealing with it on an electronic form. And so there's the loss the ability to really kind of grasp and have it explained to us, why we need UM. And frankly, I think agents don't think like cycling injury lawyers about understanding the need for UM, a great lack of understanding in my view of why it's so important for you and I, particularly as road cyclists.
So, the first thing is, uninsured motorist coverage protects you, it protects the members of your family who live in your home, it protects you whether you're in your car, whether you're in a rental car, whether you're traveling in a neighbor's car. It protects you wherever you go if you're involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Protects you in Florida and out of Florida. So UM is very broad coverage that travels with you where you go and protects you and the resident relatives of your household. It also protects you when you're not in a car. It protects you when you're on your bicycle if you're hit by a vehicle. It protects you as a pedestrian if you're hit by a vehicle. If you go over to Tampa, like near me, and you rent one of those e-scooters, which I hate, and you get hit by a vehicle, it would protect you there, because you've been struck by a motor vehicle.
So, uninsured motorist covers you in a broad variety of ways which are all very, very important. It pays, hey Amir, how you doing? Glad you're watching today. So it covers your medical expenses, it covers your lost wages, it covers the deductibles, it covers copays, it covers pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, and all of the things that make up the elements of an injury case. It covers everything that the driver should be paying for but did not buy insurance to cover. So you are protecting yourself, insuring against this vast number of people on the road around you every day who have no insurance or only a minimal, small amount of insurance that will never pay you what you really need to be protected from them in the event of a crash. It also pays back your health insurance liens. If you owe Medicare and Blue Cross, that is paid for by your UM.
So, that's the basic coverage of what you need. So the question that everybody wants to know is, "Okay, Jim, so I get it, I need UM. "How much?" Here's my advice. I wouldn't leave my driveway without $100,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. And I consider that, personally, I consider that sort of the minimum of what I think a cyclist should ever consider buying. If you're really concerned about finances and are worried about a budget, I would recommend at least $100,000 in UM. I really believe you ought to have at least $250,000, however. If you're employed, if you have children, if you have an occupation, particularly, depending on how much earnings you make every year, you need, in my view, a million dollars in UM. It will protect your earning capacity, years in the future if you can't work. How many years of earning capacity do you want to protect? If you're in your 30s or 40s or 50s and you have another 10 or 15 years of earnings, if you're making 50 or 60,000 dollars a year, think how quickly you get to 500 or six or 700,000 dollars in just earning capacity alone.
So, that's my view of UM. I want to get this message out to all cyclists. I don't want to continue to receive calls from people that, quite frankly, I can't help because the driver was not insured, and they had no UM. So many people, experienced cyclists, no one has ever told them. They haven't heard this message, or God forbid, they've heard the message but decided, "Eh, it's not gonna happen to me." Every person who calls every injury lawyer's office in Florida today believed it would not happen to them. So, we buy insurance for a lot of reasons. I don't believe I'm ever gonna need surgery at the hospital. I have health insurance, however, why? Because the consequences of not having it are too devastating. I don't believe I'm gonna die and leave my wife before my time is up. I have life insurance, why? Because the consequences of not having it are too devastating. For us as cyclists, the consequences of not having adequate uninsured motorist coverage, quite frankly, are devastating as well.
So, I had a call once from a person who heard me speak at a public event, heard me talk about uninsured motorist, got into a crash six months later, and called and said, "Hey, listen, hey, Jim, I heard you talk," and I said, "Well, then, if you heard me talk, "what have you done about your UM?" And he said, "Eh, nothing, I didn't do anything about it." And unfortunately, the person had been involved in a crash and the driver had no BI, and he had no UM. So, all I can do is try to get this message out. But I want you to help me get this message out. Those of you who have heard, understand, kinda get the issue, and understand that friends don't let friends ride without UM. When you're at your club meeting, when you're at your meetup group, when you're at Starbucks and you're talking to your cycling buddies, say to them, "Hey, I heard Dodson, "the Florida Bike Guy, talking about uninsured motorist. "I looked at it, I bought it. "Have you done it?" And if they don't understand it, we'll get them the book that I'm gonna offer to you today. We'll help them understand. Hey, listen, there's nothing in this for me. I'm not selling insurance, but I passionately believe that the cycling world needs this information, and I wanna get it out at no cost to anybody. We have a book, Kati's gonna flash it on the screen there, UM: Don't Leave Home Without It! It's only 20 or 30 pages. It's a 15-minute read. It summarizes all the things I've been talking here today in a way that you can look at. It's written in plain English. There's no lawyer talk. And I think my whole point of this is to motivate people to get past the "it won't happen to me" and just do what you need to do in the event the unexpected happens. I get calls from people all the time who are riding 10,000, 15,000 dollar bicycles but don't have a UM policy. It's like, you're invested in this sport. Who failed to inform you about why you need UM?
So, that's my message for the day. I hope you'll request this resource. Remember that friends don't let friends ride without UM. Sit down and talk to your friends about it today, 'cause they probably haven't heard me talk about it. But you have, and you have an opportunity to spread that word to them, or order an extra copy of the book and give it to them. They'll appreciate it, and I think it'll make you feel good as well. So, I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. Pull your UM policy today. Check it if you haven't got it. Make sure you have at least 100. I recommend preferably 250, and more if you need it. You have a great day. I'll see you on the road. Be safe, goodbye.
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