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Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Ohio

Post By Corey Heit

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Ohio?

Drivers are not required to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in Ohio, but it makes a lot of sense to do so. The coverage provides essential protection in many situations, and supplementing your own injury and collision liability coverage with both UM and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage will make recovering after any crash easier.

When Can You Invoke Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Section 3937.18 of the Ohio Revised Code lists the following circumstances in which a person can file personal injury claims under the UM provisions of their own auto insurance policies:

  • A hit-and-run driver caused the crash and inflicted injuries;
  • The driver who caused the crash and resulting injuries does not carry bodily injury liability coverage;
  • More than one driver might be at fault for causing the crash and police reports are inconclusive regarding fault;
  • The at-fault driver’s insurance company denies personal injury claims; and
  • The at-fault driver has immunity from insurance claims under federal or state law.

UM coverage will most often be invoked following hit-and-run crashes. It can also apply to unique situations like an unoccupied vehicle striking an occupied one with enough force to injure the occupants. Exploring all coverage options with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can maximize financial recovery. Importantly, pedestrians and bike riders can use their UM coverage when a car or truck driver hits them and then flees the scene.

When Can You Invoke Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

O.R.C. 3937.18 identifies just one situation when underinsured motorist coverage can be invoked. When an at-fault driver carries injury liability but the injured victim carries underinsured motorist with a higher limit, the injured person can use their own coverage to claim up to the maximum payment available in their own policy.

For instance, an injured person who has $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage can claim that when a driver who carries the minimum $25,000 in injury liability coverage. Only one settlement will be paid, however. UIM will not be added to liability coverage from another source.

How Common Are Hit-ad-Run Collisions and People Driving Without Insurance?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated in 2015 that 12.4 percent of Ohio drivers lacked insurance. That translated into one out of every eight people on the road across the Buckeye State putting people at risk for paying the full cost of recovering from injuries they cause.

Also in 2015, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety identified 42 fatal hit-and-run collisions in Ohio. Deaths in Ohio hit-skip crashes increased to 61 in 2016, and the total number of drivers who flee the scene after causing a crash is in the hundreds each year.

Insurance Companies Can Contest UM and UIM Claims

Just as drivers are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Ohio, insurance companies are not required to automatically approve UM and underinsured motorist claims. As O.R.C. 3937.18 explains,

With respect to the uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, or both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages included in a policy of insurance, an insured shall be required to prove all elements of the insured’s claim that are necessary to recover from the owner or operator of the uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle.

In practical terms, an insurer presented with a uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claim will ask its policyholder to provide evidence that another driver was at least 51 percent at fault, injuries occurred, those crash-related injuries required medical care, and the care cost money. A person who cannot substantiate each of these facts will have their claim denied.

Partnering with an experienced personal injury attorney while pursuing uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claims will make it easier to clear the hurdles put in place by the insurance company. If you need help with a case, consider calling Corey Heit of Heit Law in Westerville at (614) 898-5300 or connecting with Corey online. He takes cases in Columbus and throughout Franklin County, and he offers free consultations to potential clients.

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