More drivers have minimum liability limits. Fewer drivers have uninsured /underinsured coverage. More cases settle, but only because the limits are lower and there’s nothing to fight about.
More drivers have minimum liability limits.
Ohio’s minimum required liability limits are $12,500/$25,000. This means every driver is required by law to carry insurance that will pay up to $12,500.00 to anyone he injures in an accident, but no more than $25,000 to all the people he injures in that accident.
You can buy more insurance than this, but a lot of people don’t. They don’t want to spend the money.
Why are the minimum limits so low? Because the insurance companies want them that low. If the limits are low, they can sell more insurance cheaper.
Every time someone proposes higher limits, the insurance companies fight them. They argue that if you raise the limits, premiums will go up, and more drivers will be uninsured.
The insurance companies also say that people can protect themselves against underinsured drivers by buying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Which is true – except hardly anyone buys enough.
Which brings us to our next topic.
Fewer drivers have uninsured /underinsured coverage.
Why not? Because insurance companies don’t have to offer it any more.
For years – until 2001 – insurance companies were required by law to offer uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM)motorist coverage to anyone who bought a liability policy.
This is a great coverage – if you have it, it stands in the place of the other driver’s liability insurer if they’re uninsured, or if their liability limits are lower than your uninsured/underinsured limits.
And it’s cheap. Often, you can buy millions of dollars of coverage for a few hundred dollars in premiums.
So why did the state stop requiring insurance companies to offer it?
It’s a little complicated, but the Ohio courts became increasingly more detailed about what insurance companies had to do in order to comply with the requirement that they “offer” the coverage. An injured person would sue the insurance company, claiming it had not done everything it was legally required to do to “offer” the coverage.
The court would agree with the injured person, and determine that they were covered by uninsured motorist coverage with limits equal to the liability limits. The high point of this trend came in the 1990’s, when the Ohio Supreme Court decided the Scott Ponzer Case and effectively determined that everyone who was employed had a right to be covered for UM/UIM under their employer’s auto insurance – even if they were not in a company vehicle when the accident happened.
After Scott Ponzer, two things happened. The legislature eliminated the requirement that the insurance companies offer UM/UIM coverage. And the drivers who bought the coverage found that when the policies were examined, they didn’t extend coverage to a lot of people who had been covered before – such as guests of the driver, and non resident family members.
As a result, a lot fewer accident victims are covered by insurance than were before. If you don’t buy your own uninsured/underinsured insurance, this is a bad thing.
But there’s only one way to know for sure. You need to hire a lawyer to read the policy.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. The only advantage to these changes is that if the limits are smaller, you can stop fighting about the lawsuit sooner. If you’ve been injured in an accident, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Lawyer 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.