Protecting Yourself from Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers - Understanding UM/UIM Coverage
Car insurance can be very expensive, and trying to save on your auto insurance policy may seem like a good idea. However, there are some coverages you do not want to forego in an effort to save a few dollars, and one is your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Bodily Injury coverage. Otherwise known as UM/UIM, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Bodily Injury coverage protects you in case another driver without insurance is negligent, and causes you injury in a car collision.
You might be shocked to learn that it is estimated that 12.4% of drivers in Ohio are on the road driving without insurance. That is according to the Insurance Research Council, and that is a lot of people when you consider there are almost 8 million licensed drivers in Ohio. That means there are almost 1 million people in Ohio driving illegally without any insurance. Keep in mind these are just individuals who have no insurance whatsoever, this does not count those who are underinsured.
In Ohio, the minimum limits of insurance for personal injury you can carry and still be legal to drive is $25,000 per person injured and $50,000 per accident total. This means that if a driver with a minimum limits policy hits you, and injures you, you could only collect a maximum of $25,000 from that insurance company. Depending on your injuries in the accident, and considering the cost of emergency medical treatment, $25,000 might not even cover the medical bills, let alone lost wages, your time and inconvenience, as well as pain and suffering.
Bottom line, there is a good chance that if you are in an accident that is not your fault, the other driver will either not have insurance, or will not have enough insurance. So how do you protect yourself? You do so by purchasing your own UM/UIM coverage with as high of limits as you can afford. That way, if the other driver has none or inadequate insurance, your UM/UIM coverage will cover your bodily injuries up to the policy amount you purchased.
You might be thinking, “But if I make a UM/UIM claim under my own policy, won’t my insurance rates rise?” The answer is that the Ohio legislature has made it illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates in that situation. Ohio Revised Code § 3937.23 states that:
No insurer shall increase the cost of a private passenger automobile insurance policy based on the insured's involvement in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, when both of the following apply:
(A) The insured's action is not a proximate cause of any loss, damage, injury, or death arising out of the accident;
(B) The insured has not been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or pleaded no contest to, a violation of law as a result of the accident.
So as long as you were not at fault for the collision and any damage or injuries resulting, and as long as you did not break the law, the insurance company cannot raise your rates because you made a UM/UIM claim.
Make sure to review your insurance policy with your agent and make sure that UM/UIM coverage is on your policy and that you have as high of limits as you can afford. If the unfortunate happens and you are injured by an uninsured motorist, you will be protected. If you have questions about your insurance policy, or you and/or a family member has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and are injured, the lawyers at CCJ can help.