As anyone who has ridden a bicycle on the Big Island can attest to, the roads here are dangerous. Bad road conditions combined with all the distractions available to drivers in Hawaii (i.e. cell phone, sunset, whale watching), cyclists risk serious injury when riding on the Big Island. In the event a vehicle strikes a cyclist, injuries are usually significant. Significant injuries result in significant medical expenses, significant income loss and significant financial and familial harm. However, as I've witnessed on numerous occasions in my personal injury practice, Hawaii drivers oftentimes either do not have any auto insurance or maintain insurance policies with only the minimum policy limits available under Hawaii law (currently $20,000).
In order to mitigate against the potential financial losses incurred in a bicycle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, cyclists may wish to increase their own policy limits on uninsured/underinsured motorist and personal injury protection coverage(s), respectively. If available in a motor vehicle/cycling accident, these coverages will make up for what the driver lacks in available insurance coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is available to compensate policyholders in the event a negligent driver has no insurance or maintains an auto policy with monetary limits which are insufficient to pay for the injured party's medical expenses, wage loss, pain-and-suffering, and other financial losses to which the injured victim may be eligible to receive under Hawaii law. For a regular cyclist, UM/UIM coverage of at least $1,000,000 is recommended. If the cyclist has more than one car on the policy, the UM/UIM coverage may be "stacked" as well. A "stacked" policy means that the UM/UIM limits are multiplied by the number of vehicles insured under the policy (i.e. three cars at $1,000,000 limits = $3,000,000 in coverage). It is also recommended that the cyclist confirm with her/his auto insurance company or insurance broker that UM/UIM coverage is available in the event of a motor vehicle/bicycle accident and no exclusions apply that may result in the denial of UM/UIM coverage. An additional consideration for cyclists is to consider purchasing an umbrella or excess policy to increase UM/UIM limits to at least $1,000,000. Again, it is important to confirm with the insurance carrier whether coverage under the excess/umbrella policy is available to injured cyclists in bicycle accidents involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a coverage available under Hawaii automobile insurance policies that pays for medical expenses incurred in an accident prior to the settlement of a claim. In many auto accident cases in Hawaii, injured victims carry a mere $10,000 in PIP limits. As we know, $10,000 doesn't begin to cover medical expenses incurred in a motor vehicle/bicycle crash. After PIP limits have been exhausted, the injured victim's health insurance becomes responsible to pay for accident-related medical bills. As health insurance includes expensive deductibles and co-payments, an injured cyclist could be out thousands of dollars even though she/he did not cause the injuries. Therefore, cyclists may wish to inquire with their auto insurance companies on increasing policy limits on either the PIP portion of the policy or to add a separate MedPay policy to pay for co-pays/deductibles or if the cyclist is without health insurance. It is important to confirm with your auto insurance company that PIP/MedPay coverages are available to cyclists.
In conclusion, it is best to plan ahead when riding a bicycle in Hawaii. The cost of increasing existing auto insurance coverage(s) is relatively inconsequential when compared to the financial losses that will be incurred by a cyclist hit by a driver with no or inadequate insurance.