Ohio Car Insurance Alert: Full coverage not so full

According to a recent report by the Ohio Association for Justice, your auto insurance policy purchased in Ohio, may not be all you think it is. Many Ohioans are finding out after an accident that their supposed “full-coverage”policy proved to provide little to no coverage at all.

A number of exclusion are being introduced into insurance policies that exclude the insurance provider from having to pay for medical bills for family members injured in accidents. To illustrate the following scenarios are provided:

1. A family takes a well earned vacation in
their insured vehicle. The occupants
consist of: (1) husband, (2) wife, and (3)
their minor children. They bought a “full
coverage” auto policy with $500,000 of
liability coverage and the same amount
in “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists”
(UM/UIM) coverage, and $5,000 in
medical payments coverage. The
husband takes the wheel and drives a leg
of the trip. He loses control of the
vehicle, and seriously injures every
occupant in the car. The wife and
children have combined medical bills of
$200,000.

RESULT: Their auto policy has a
“family exclusion.” Under this
exclusion, the wife and minor children
have no coverage at all under the
liability or UM/UIM portions of the
policy for husband/Dad’s driving
negligence. They are entitled to receive
only $5,000 per person in medical bills
for a total of $15,000.

2. Same facts as Number 1, except that a
minor friend of the children
accompanies the family on the trip, and
is similarly injured.

RESULT: The wife and children still
have no coverage for the husband/Dad’s
driving negligence. The family friend is
covered and is entitled to collect up to
the $500,000 liability limits.

This “family” exclusion eliminates coverage for entire classes of victims simply because they are members of the insured’s family or household. 

What about  scenarios where emergency vehicles collide into other motorists while responding to emergencies? Take a look at this scenario:

You are riding in your insured vehicle with
your family. As you enter an intersection,
you are clobbered by a police car,
ambulance, or fire truck responding to an
emergency call. Your family is seriously
injured. However, these vehicles are
immune from liability under Ohio law if
they are responding to an emergency call
and are not engaging in reckless or wanton
driving at the time of the collision.

RESULT: Because the government vehicle is immune
from liability, you make a claim for your
family’s injuries under the uninsured
motorists’ portion of your “full coverage”
auto policy.

In Snyder v. American Family Ins. Co., the Ohio Supreme Court ended any uncertainty in this area and ruled that insurance companies could legally deny uninsured motorist (UM) claims against their own insured’s injured by vehicles/parties that were immune from liability. In eliminating these claims, the Court noted that the insurance policy in question provided that UM benefits would not be paid unless the injured insured was “legally entitled to recover” against another motorist. Since Columbus police officer Jennifer Snyder was not “legally entitled to recover” from a fellow police officer (who ran her over while in pursuit of a criminal), she could not bring a UM claim against her own insurance company.

Lastly beware of “non-duplication” clauses. Ohio citizens purchasing “full coverage” policies pay separate premiums for different coverage's. For example, insurers will charge a separate premium for liability, uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage, and medical payments. So check this out:

Jane is injured by an uninsured drunk driver.
She fractures both legs and needs surgery.
Her medical bills exceed $30,000. She had
the foresight to purchase “medical
payments” coverage of $25,000 and
uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage
of $50,000.
Jane tenders her medical bills to her
insurance company for payment, and the
company pays its limits of $25,000. At the
conclusion of her treatment, she also makes
a claim for benefits under her uninsured
motorists’ coverage for the limits of her
coverage – $50,000.

RESULT: Her insurance company agrees that her injury claim is
worth $50,000 and offers it . . . but subtracts
the $25,000 it paid previously for her
medical bills, and sends her a check for
$25,000.

As you have read, Ohio insurance policies can carry fine-print exclusion that you may not be fully aware of. When setting up your Ohio car insurance policy, be sure to inquire about these three exclusion in particular so that you are fully aware of your exact coverage. If you are not sure of the details of your “full coverage” plan now is a good time to review your policy. If you would like a free car insurance quote from a reputable provider, get your click to get your no-obligation free quote .

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