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Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Less Important Now Than It Used To Be?

It is much, much more important than ever.

Uninsured – and underinsured – motorist coverage is insurance coverage you buy. It protects you when the car that hits you doesn’t have enough coverage.

There are two reasons it is more important than ever.

The first reason is on TV every day.

You know Safe Auto, Geico – all of the insurance companies you see on TV advertising the great, inexpensive minimum coverage policies they are selling people?

People are buying these policies. But the policies often only have the Ohio minimum liability limits of $12,500 per person – or roughly speaking, nothing if you are seriously hurt in a car wreck.

That little lizard? He’s cute, but he may not be your buddy.

So if you get creamed by somebody with lizard coverage, and limits of $12,500 per accident, and you’re hurt bad, how much you get will depend on how much uninsured/underinsured coverage you carry on your own policy.

Second, the law has changed. If you are a passenger in a friend’s car, the insurance available depends on (1) your friend’s insurance and (2) your own insurance. And a lot of policies limit the coverage that is owed to passengers.

For years, insurance companies had to offer uninsured/underinsured coverage with each auto policy they sold. In limits equal to the liability limits on the policy.

And the owner’s policy had to provide the same coverage to everyone in the car at the time of the accident.

But in 2001, the legislature changed the law. And over the last few years, the insurance companies have begun to take advantage of the changes.

Insurance companied don’t have to offer uninsured/underinsured coverage any more. And when they provide it, they don’t have to provide coverage for everyone in the car.

What does this mean? Let’s say you’re a passenger in your friend’s car. There’s a wreck. Bad injuries. Your friend’s policy has uninsured/underinsured coverage of $500,000 per accident – but may exclude the coverage completely for passengers.

What coverage do the passengers have?

Technically, it depends on the policy language. But practically a lot of the time,

“You’re on your own.”

Not what you want to hear when the subject is insurance.

The only coverage you can be sure of is the insurance you purchased. If your own policy has uninsured/underinsured limits of $12,500 per person, that may be all you get. Even if you are paralyzed.

This isn’t always the case. But I’m seeing a lot more of it.

The only defense? When you buy your insurance, make sure that you have as much as you can afford, and make sure you have as much uninsured/underinsured as you can afford.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I have testified in the Ohio legislature on the need for higher insurance limits. If you’ve been injured in an accident, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Attorney about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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