Cuomo should veto SUM coverage bill

I am responding to the editorial, “Insurance gap needs to be filled,” which encouraged drivers to purchase supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage. SUM coverage can be an appropriate option, but is not always necessary. There is no simple formula that makes sense for everyone. Whether or not a person should buy SUM coverage, and if so how much, depends on one’s individual circumstances.
SUM coverage is readily available at different monetary levels. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation passed in the waning hours of the session, those options would be severely limited. The legislation would force individuals to opt out of SUM coverage as opposed to the current, transparent process of opting in. The opt-out mechanism will prove very confusing – tricking people into purchasing coverage that is supposed to be optional. This bill also applies to small businesses, roping them into this bad public policy that would only drive up costs.
Many different types of coverage are available to protect drivers and their passengers in the event of an auto accident. Personal injury protection is automatically part of an auto policy and provides $50,000 per person. Additional personal injury protection and optional basic economic loss can also be purchased. In addition, there are other types of insurance that apply, namely workers’ compensation and health insurance.
The main difference between SUM coverage and other types of insurance is that SUM includes pain and suffering awards. Trial lawyers thrive on suing for pain and suffering, so it is no surprise they are strongly pushing for this legislation.
Our customers deserve to choose what types of coverage are most appropriate for them. SUM coverage is just one of many options. I ask Cuomo to veto this legislation that is anti-consumer and bad for small businesses.
Ellen Melchionni
New York Insurance Association