Ohio Auto Insurance Law Update: Coverage Minimums Rise and Changes to Intra-Family Exclusions

January 13, 2013

Auto Accidents

Ohio Auto Insurance Policy LawsSeveral changes in Ohio auto insurance laws were signed into law December 22, 2012 including new minimum financial responsibility limits and nullification of intra-family exclusions in auto policies under certain circumstances.

The effective date of the new law is March 22, 2013, but Ohio drivers have nine months after Dec. 22 to meet the new minimum financial responsibility standards.  Under current law, all Ohio drivers must be able to show proof of financial responsibility and are not permitted to have someone drive their car whose car insurance does not meet minimum financial responsibility limits.

Minimum coverage will increase from $12,500 to $25,000 for Bodily Injury Liability Coverage per person injured in any one accident and to $50,000 for all persons injured in any one accident.  (This was formerly a $25,000 minimum.)  Property damage liability coverage minimums will rise to $25,000 from $7,500.

Ohio legislators report the minimums have not been increased since 1969 and Ohio is one of the least expensive states in which to buy auto insurance.  Many people prefer to have coverage higher than state limits as an individual involved in an auto accident could be sued for damages in excess of the liability limits on their policy.  The individual could be sued by another driver or even by a passenger in their own vehicle.

In deciding how much financial responsibility coverage to include in your policy, you may want to determine the value of your assets.  You could be ordered to pay medical costs, property damage not covered by your policy, and any legal costs associated with an accident.  You could lose your home, your car and other assets and have present and future wages garnished if your coverage is too low.

The new law also prohibits intra-family exclusions in auto policies when a family member is killed in an accident in which another family member (from the same household) is involved.

Prior to passage of the new law, some insurance companies included a clause in their policies saying the company would not pay for expenses surrounding a family member’s death or injuries if another family member was known to have negligently caused the accident.  Many people were not aware of this “household” exclusion until a tragedy occurred, then found they were not covered for the injuries or wrongful death of both family members.

The “exclusion” was supposedly designed to prevent fraudulent or “staged” intra-familial lawsuits for insurance benefits, although the penalty seemed harsh for the mere possibility a “fake” accident could occur.

Even with the new law, it may be a good idea to review this portion of your policy (usually under “Liability”) with your agent or your attorney.  There are still provisions regarding underinsured and uninsured motorists and injured family members that may be difficult to understand and there are still situations where enforceable policy provisions may surprise the policyholder.

There are also provisions in the new changes to automobile insurance law which reduce from two years to one year the minimum policy period for auto insurance policies.

It is also now considered an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the insurance business to charge excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory premium rates in private passenger automobile insurance based solely on the insured’s residence location.

If you have questions about the new Ohio auto insurance laws, you may want to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Slater & Zurz LLP.  Call 1-888-534-4850 or send a message from our FREE CASE REVIEW on the upper right hand side of our web page at www.slaterzurz.com.  

If you are considering changing your car insurance company, we may be able to recommend someone to help you.  Remember if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, it is important that you contact an attorney experienced in these areas as insurance companies will often try to avoid making payouts.  Sometimes it is necessary to sue your own insurance company to cover the costs.

Today 1 in 7 drivers is uninsured or underinsured.

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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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One Comment on “Ohio Auto Insurance Law Update: Coverage Minimums Rise and Changes to Intra-Family Exclusions”

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