One doesn’t have to be an experienced Toledo accident attorney to know that one is required to have auto insurance before driving a motor vehicle in most state, including Ohio. Still, not all motorists fully understand their policies and sometimes choose one that is ill-suited to their needs and budget.
One may be asking themselves, “How do I know what type of coverage I currently have?” Or, “How do I know what kind of coverage I will have if I upgrade my poilcy?” To get a brief overview of your current or potential auto insurance policy, you should take a look at the “declarations page” (commonly referred to as the “dec page”). An auto insurance policy declarations page is essentially a brief summary of the policy that provides all of the basic information you need to know about the policy. The declarations page consists of information such as:
- Insurance company name
- Policy number
- Policy period (the effective date and the expiration date)
- Named insured and address
- Vehicle description
- Coverage (type and limits)
- Premium amount
- Loss payee, lien holder, additional interest, or additional insured (the finance company, leasing company, or person listed as owning an interest in the car)
- Endorsements (changes made to the policy or special conditions)
If you have your current or potential declaration page handy, you may want to refer to it as you read through the rest of this book. Now, let’s get into some of the things that you need to know before purchasing your policy:
- In Ohio, the legal minimum liability limits are as follows: $12,500 per person (up to a total of $25,000 per accident) and $7,500 for property damage per accident. In “insurance lingo,” these minimum limits are commonly referred to as $12,500/$25,000/$7,500. But be careful! Just because you are “legal” does not mean that you or your family are adequately protected. Read on!
- Almost all insurers also offer “optional” coverage. As you will see, some of this “optional” coverage really should not be optional at all, especially the uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage! Optional coverage usually includes:
- “Uninsured motorist” (UM) and “underinsured motorist” (UIM) coverage, which kicks in if you are hit by an uninsured driver (no insurance) or underinsured driver (not enough insurance)
- “Medical payments coverage” (MedPay), which pays medical expenses resulting from an auto accident
- “Collision” coverage, which covers damage to your car when your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle or other object
“Comprehensive” coverage, which covers your vehicle for losses resulting from incidents other than a collision
- In addition, many insurers offer additional optional coverage such as gap coverage, roadside assistance, and rental reimbursement. These are the truly optional types of coverage.
- You should also know: Ohio uses a traditional tort liability system with comparative negligence. What does this mean? Simply put, if you’re involved in an accident, a decision will be made one way or another as to who is at fault and by how much. The insurance company of the at-fault person will then pay the injured parties according to the percentage of fault. The exact amount of this payment is of course determined by the amount of damage caused in the accident.