May 13th, 2009|
We live in a time when “survival of the fittest” is the name of the game. If you don’t protect yourself, you may find that no one else will – even if they’re legally required to. Take automobile insurance. Ohio has had financial responsibility laws on the books for many years. These laws require all Ohio motorists to obtain automobile liability insurance in a minimum amount of $12,500 per person or $25,000 per accident, or to self-insure through a financial responsibility bond or other statutorily- approved means.
But what if the driver who hits you hasn’t complied with the law and is driving uninsured? Or what if you sustain serious or catastrophic injuries that result in financial loss to you in far greater amounts than the $12,500 minimum liability limits of the other driver? In these instances, assuming the other driver does not have a hidden fortune that can be recovered through a lawsuit, the only way you can protect yourself is by purchasing uninsured/underinsured
motorist coverage (“UM”). Up until October 31, 2001, Ohio’s UM statute required all insurance companies to offer UM coverage in every automobile liability policy sold to Ohio motorists. However, in an effort to defeat consumerfriendly decisions of the Ohio Supreme Court, the legislature amended that statute so that the insurance companies no longer have to offer this coverage to you– though, of course, they will still sell it to you if you request it.
As a driver purchasing an automobile liability policy you should purchase UM in the highest amount you can afford. If you only purchase $12,500 in UM, you will only be able to access that amount if the other driver has less than $12,500 in liability insurance available to you. On the other hand, if you purchase $100,000 in UM, and the at-fault driver has liability coverage of $12,500, then you will be able to recover the $12,500 from that other driver and up to $87,500 from your own UM policy.
Some people ask why they need UM coverage if they have good health insurance. The answer is that health insurance only covers medical bills – and probably only a portion of those after paying a deductible. “Damages” from an accident, however, include more than just medical bills – they include lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of the ability to do or to enjoy things you can no longer do because of the accident. Also, health insurance does not help your family if you are killed by an uninsured driver.
UM is especially important for motorcyclists to carry. It may be a little more expensive, as the risks motorcyclists face are greater than those faced by other motorists. But the expense is worth it if – God forbid– you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Call your insurance agent now. Ask him or her to verify in writing that you have UM coverage, and, if you don’t, ask that you be covered immediately.