The Hidden Pitfalls of the Intra-Family Exclusion in Auto Insurance Policies

January 12, 2012

Auto Accidents

This article was written by attorney Andrew Pullekins of the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP: 

Auto Insurance PolicyWhen was the last time you read through your entire automobile insurance policy?  If you are like the majority of the population, the answer is never.

Many, if not most, automobile insurance policies are lengthy documents filled with legalese that can be verbose and confusing.  One such example is the intra-family exclusion, which is present in many, if not most, automobile insurance policies.

The intra family exclusion states that a family member, or any person related to an insured by blood, marriage or adoption, who resides in the same household, may not bring a claim or lawsuit against another family member who may be deemed liable for an accident to which they are a passenger in the “insured vehicle.”  Some policy language is more expansive, denying coverage regardless as to whether the family member is injured in an insured vehicle, another vehicle or as a pedestrian.

Though you may find this exclusion to be alarming and unfair, do not turn to the Ohio Supreme Court for help. The intra-family exclusion has long been held to be valid in Ohio.  See Kuhnle v. Zander, 103 Ohio St.3d 474 (2004).  According to the Court, these clauses are “designed to prevent fraudulent or collusive intra-familial lawsuits for insurance benefits.”  Kelly v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 2006 Ohio 3599 (1st Dist. Ct. of App., 2006).  In fact, after the abolition of spousal-tort immunity, the Ohio Supreme Court suggested that insurance companies use this type of exclusion to reduce the cost of insurance premiums.  Id (emphasis added).

Moreover, the intra-family exclusion has been held to apply to underinsured/uninsured motorist claims as well.  In Dunson v. Home-Owners Ins. Co., 2010 Ohio 1928 (3rd Dist. Ct. of App., 2010), the Third District Court of Appeals stated that Ohio Revised Code § 3937.18 permits insurance companies to include exclusionary and limiting provisions in UM policies for inter-family claims.

Don’t be a victim of surprise when it comes to your insurance policy.  Ask your agent today whether your policy contains intra-family exclusion language.  And remember, no matter what the commercials say, you’re not always “in good hands” with your automobile insurance company.

If you or a family member have been involved in an auto accident anywhere in Ohio, please contact us for a FREE consultation by calling 1-800-297-9191 or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk that is convenient for you.

To learn more about auto accidents in Ohio, please visit www.slaterzurz.com

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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2 Comments on “The Hidden Pitfalls of the Intra-Family Exclusion in Auto Insurance Policies”

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