Understanding Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Coverage In Ohio
Imagine that you are hit and injured by a driver who carries little or no insurance. Or worse, imagine that the driver who hit you speeds off after the accident. As we discussed above, your liability insurance only covers other people’s bodily injuries or death for which you are responsible! Since you didn’t cause the accident, your liability insurance won’t provide you with any compensation. You are stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Now what?
This type of situation is one frequently handled by the Ohio auto accident lawyers at the Charles Boyk Law Offices, and it is the reason you want to carry plenty of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. These types of policies often abbreviated UM (uninsured motorist) and UIM (underinsured motorist), protect you if you are involved in an accident with an irresponsible driver who carries little or no auto insurance or if you are involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver. Both UM and UIM apply to you and any passengers in your car, and to you and others listed on your insurance policy (including family members) when in other cars.
Uninsured drivers come in several different forms. They might not have any insurance at all. They might have insurance that does not meet state-mandated minimum liability requirements. Their insurance company could deny their claim or not be able to pay it. If you are hit by an uninsured driver and you do not have uninsured motorist protection, you will not receive any compensation from either your insurance provider or the other drivers.
An underinsured driver meets minimum legal financial responsibility requirements but does not have payment limits high enough to cover the damage he or she caused. In this case, if you are involved in an accident with an underinsured driver and you do not carry UIM coverage, you will only receive as much as their policy limits allow, even if that amount does not cover your medical bills, property damage, and other expenses!
Underinsured motorist protection pays you for damages that exceed the payment limits carried by the underinsured driver. It will pay up to the limits of your policy after subtracting the amount paid by the other driver’s insurance—in other words, the amount listed as your UIM limit is the total amount paid by both insurance companies. If the other driver’s insurance only pays a third of your policy value, your insurance will kick in the other two-thirds, but no more. This is probably one of the most difficult auto insurance concepts to grasp. The chart below illustrates what we just discussed and should help clear things up.
In a recent case, our client was seriously injured in a crash with an uninsured motorist. While our client had $12,500 in uninsured motorist coverage, his initial hospital stay cost over $180,000. He followed up with a long nursing home stay, months off work, and no income to support his children. Obviously, the $12,500 he received in UM coverage will not even come close to covering all of his expenses.
In another current case, the victim suffered a brain injury, broken clavicle, collapsed a lung, broken facial bones, and broken teeth. While these are severe and permanent injuries, our client has no insurance coverage and the defendant has only $100,000 in coverage. In this instance, a case that is worth well over $500,000 will settle for the $100,000 policy limits.
An even worse situation is a case where our client and the defendant both have no insurance coverage. The client had a three-month hospital stay, a brain injury, broken facial bones, permanent speech and mental impairments, and will never be able to return to his prior employment. This case should be worth well over $1 million but will result in no recovery and severe hardship for our client and his family.
The lesson to be learned is that it is up to you to protect yourself and your family.
Although though it is illegal to drive without insurance in the state of Ohio, there are regrettably many, many people who still do so. Carrying UM and UIM policies gives you a guarantee that you will still receive the compensation you deserve in the event that you are involved in an accident with a driver who falls into the UM or UIM categories.
UM/UIM coverage is not necessarily going to be automatically included in your policy, but any good insurance agent will strongly encourage you to add it on – and you should listen. Take it from our Toledo injury lawyers, adding UM/UIM can often be done for a very low cost (less than $10 extra per month) and is definitely worth the extra investment to make sure you and your family are protected!