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The Myth of “Full Coverage?” What does it really mean?

March 4, 2014

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“Full coverage” has no legal meaning in Ohio. Since insurance companies sell many different types of insurance coverage, the type and amount of coverage you have it what matters. The most important insurance coverages are: (1) Liability, (2) Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist, (3) Property Damage and (4) Medical Payments.

Liability coverage protects you when you cause injury to someone else. For example, if you have a policy that provides $25,000 in coverage for an accident, your carrier will pay up to that amount to the injured person. If the injured person has losses greater than $25,000, your personal assets can be used to cover anything in excess of $25,000. An excess judgment can follow you forever, negatively impacting your credit score, your ability to buy a home or obtain new insurance. Ohio now requires minimum coverage of $25,000. An emergency room visit following an accident can cost more than $10,000 so the State required minimum coverage is not enough to protect you.

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) protects you if another driver causes an accident. Because many drivers have limited or no insurance at all, this protects you from someone else’s negligence. This coverage does not have to be offered by the insurance carrier so it is critical to request this coverage. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the total cost of the policy and is highly valuable if you are injured by a negligent driver with a low level of coverage or none at all. Make sure you demand as much Uninsured/Underinsured coverage as you can afford. If you are injured by a driver with no coverage, and you do not have uninsured/underinsured coverage, there is almost no chance of obtaining any recovery. All of your medical bills will have to be paid by you. If you lost time from work, there is probably no way of getting that money back.

Property Damage coverage pays for damage to your car or your property up to an amount defined in your policy. If your car is a total loss, the value of the car is covered but not the amount you owe on the car. You may have to continue to pay the bank for a car you no longer drive. Make sure you purchase coverage that includes paying off the loan amount.

Medical Payments, or med pay, pays your medical bills up to the amount defined in your policy. Many carriers require the medical bills to be submitted within one year of the accident. This coverage is for bills already incurred, not for medical treatment you need in the future.

The Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller and McCarthy recognize the dangers of being uninsured or underinsured. If you have any questions about your coverage, give us a call. Stay safe!

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