What is it?
Uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is a type of automobile insurance coverage that pays when you are injured by a driver who carries no automobile liability insurance or doesn’t carry enough of it.
While some states require that you buy this coverage or that insurers offer it to you, Ohio isn’t one of them. You should check your policy carefully to see whether or not you have it. “Full coverage” doesn’t necessarily mean you have UM/UIM coverage. Here’s what your policy might look like it you have it:
Why Do I Need It?
- If You Are Injured by A Driver Who is Uninsured
Suppose you are injured in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another driver, and the driver at fault does not have automobile liability insurance. Hopefully, in this situation, you bought uninsured motorist (UM) coverage when you obtained your own automobile insurance. If so, you are entitled to recover your damages from your own insurance company, under the uninsured motorist coverage.
- If You Are Injured by A Driver Who is Underinsured
Now suppose the driver at fault has insurance, but only has the state minimum coverage, $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident. If your damages exceed $25,000, the driver at fault is underinsured. Hopefully, in this situation, you bought underinsured motorist coverage (sometimes referred to as UIM or UDM coverage), which will pick up where the liability coverage leaves off. If for example your UM coverage limit is $100,000 per person, you can recover your damages up to that limit: $25,000 from the liability carrier; $75,000 from your UM carrier.
What Are My Options in These Situations if I Don’t Have UM/UIM Coverage?
First, call an attorney to make certain there are no other sources of recovery available to you. You might be surprised.
If there are not, it can be devastating, especially if your injuries are catastrophic. You may be stuck with bills (and more) that aren’t your fault with no legal recourse.
We are often asked whether the other driver can be sued for his or her assets. While the answer is technically “yes,” in virtually all cases, it is fruitless to do so. You may well be able to able to “win” the lawsuit and obtain a judgment against the other driver, but the likelihood of collecting on that judgment is slim. People with significant assets protect those assets through insurance.
Aren’t Drivers Legally Required to Be Insured in Ohio?
Yes. Under RC 4509.101, it is illegal to drive any motor vehicle without insurance or other proof of financial responsibility. But even as driving above the speed limit is illegal, people still do it. Rather than rely on others to follow the law, protect yourself by investing in UM/UIM coverage.
There are many drivers out there without liability insurance, or who only have the state minimum coverage. UM/UIM coverage is excellent coverage to have, and it’s not that expensive. Ask your insurance agent about it, and get as much UM/UIM coverage as you can reasonably afford. If you have additional questions, please give us a call at 614-LAW-FIRM.