Why Carrying Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Important

Ohio vehicle owners must carry liability insurance to cover injuries and property damage they cause to other drivers in a car accident. Another way of stating this is that if you get into an accident, and the other driver is at fault, you have to rely on their insurance coverage to compensate you. But what happens if their coverage limits are not high enough to pay for your injuries? And worse, what if they have no insurance at all?

Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage, while not required in Ohio, must be offered to anyone who purchases automobile liability insurance. Graham & Graham’s car accident lawyers recommend that all drivers carry these policies. We also advise that you carry more than the state’s minimum car insurance limits. Having the right types and amounts of insurance can protect you and your personal assets if you’re ever involved in a serious accident.

Ohio Car Insurance Minimum Requirements

Ohio drivers have a lot to contend with, from snow and ice in the wintertime to young, inexperienced drivers in the summertime, to the year-round risks of speeding, intoxicated, and distracted drivers.

According to Insurify, Ohio was the most dangerous state for driving in 2019. Insurify based its analysis on the number of car insurance applicants with moving violations on their record in the last ten years, compared to the state’s total number of drivers. Insurify found that 30 percent of Ohio drivers have been caught speeding, driving while intoxicated (OVI), or been involved in an accident. Ohio is also one of the deadliest states for winter weather car accidents.

Ohio law requires drivers to purchase auto insurance with limits of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to more than one person in one accident
  • $25,000 for damage to property in one accident

While $25,000 might sound like a lot of money, it may barely be enough to replace your car if it’s declared a total loss. Also keep in mind that $25,000 needs to cover not only car repairs, but also damage to any valuables in the vehicle.

More importantly, $25,000 might not cover your injuries if you’re seriously hurt in an accident. The average hospital stay in the U.S. costs around $5,000 per day. Business Insider reports that a broken bone costs more than $14,000, a broken hip costs more than $16,000, and broken knees, ankles, and other lower body bones cost nearly $17,000. A traumatic brain injury costs an average of $19,500.

Suffering two or more of these injuries puts you over the $25,000 minimum. However, that’s just the initial cost of hospitalization. Ongoing medical treatment adds to these costs. Head injuries, for example, often have long-term effects. A catastrophic injury to the spine, spinal cord, brain, or skull can easily lead to hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars in lifetime costs.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Ohio drivers don’t have to purchase the bare minimum coverage. Some choose to purchase higher amounts, such as $250,000/$500,000 for bodily injury liability, and $250,000 for property damage. But do you really want to take the risk of hoping that another driver has enough insurance to cover your accident losses? In Ohio, an estimated 12.4 percent of drivers don’t have any insurance.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage must, by law, be offered to you when you purchase your liability coverage. These optional but essential coverages protect you in two ways:

  • UM insurance protects you and your passengers if a driver with no liability insurance hits you and causes injuries. It also covers injuries in the event of a hit-and-run accident. UM claims are made with your own insurance company. You cannot purchase more coverage for UM than you purchase for liability coverage. For example, if you have $100,000 bodily injury coverage per person/$300,000 per accident, your UM coverage can’t exceed these amounts.
  • UIM insurance protects you, your passengers, and your property when you’re in an accident with a driver that is insured, but doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your injuries/property damage in full. With UIM, you first make a claim against the other driver’s insurance for your losses, up to the limits of their policy. You then tap your own insurance to make up the difference.

Another, separate type of coverage, uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) pays for damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured motorist. You do not need UMPD if you already have collision coverage.

Adding UM and UIM to your policy costs around $50 to $100 per year. Without UM/UIM coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the uninsured/underinsured motorist responsible for your injuries and property damage. However, even if you win the lawsuit, there’s no guarantee that the other driver will have the money to pay you.

Free Case Review from Graham & Graham’s Ohio Car Accident Lawyers

Just because you carry UM and UIM coverage doesn’t mean that collecting from the insurance company will be painless. Even though it’s your insurance company, they might still give you the runaround and try to deny your claim.

Insurance claims that appear straightforward often have hidden complications. After an accident, it’s always in your best interest to speak with an attorney to avoid making a common misstep, such as saying the wrong thing or thinking you can handle everything yourself.

Keep our number in your phone: 1-800-621-8585. We can meet you at the accident scene, the hospital, your home, or our offices. We never charge any upfront fees in car accident cases. You can also contact Graham & Graham online.

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