One of the most important ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones is to carry uninsured/underinsured (UM/UDM) coverage. UM/UDM coverage applies when you or a family member are on a bicycle, a pedestrian, a driver of a motor vehicle, or a passenger in a motor vehicle and are injured by the negligent operation of a motor vehicle that does not have adequate insurance to provide compensation for you or your loved one’s injuries.
Ohio law requires that each person operating a motor vehicle have liability coverage of $25,000/50,000. This simply means that each automobile is required to carry liability insurance that will provide a total of $25,000 for a single injured person or a total of $50,000 (if more than one person is injured) for a collision caused by the driver of such a motor vehicle. If the injuries suffered in the collision exceed $25,000 total or an aggregate amount of $50,000 for all injured people, then UM/UDM coverage, if purchased through your insurance carrier, is available to provide compensation.
For example, if the driver of an automobile negligently causes you to suffer an injury and has $25,000 in coverage and you have not purchased UM/UDM coverage, the available insurance is limited to $25,000. This is true regardless of the extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, or the amount of time you will be out of work. If, on the other hand, you purchased UM/UDM coverage through your own insurance carrier in the amount of $250,000, you would potentially be entitled to recover the $25,000 of the driver’s policy and up to $225,000 from your own UM/UDM policy, totaling $250,000 in available insurance.
As illustrated by the example above, when you purchase UM/UDM coverage you are insuring yourself up to the limits of the UM/UDM policy. For instance, if you purchase $100,000 in UM/UDM coverage, you have insured yourself or a loved one for a total of $100,000. Your insurance carrier will not permit you to stack your UM/UDM policy on top of the liability policy of the driver who injured you. As illustration, if you have $100,000 in UM/UDM coverage and are injured by a driver that has no insurance, you are entitled to recover the up to $100,000 from your UM/UDM insurer; if the driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, you are entitled to recover up to $75,000 in UM/UDM coverage; if the driver has $100,000 in liability coverage, you are entitled to recover $0 from your UM/UDM coverage because the limits of your UM/UDM policy do not exceed the limits of the driver’s liability coverage.
In addition to UM/UDM and liability coverage, you can purchase what is referred to as an “umbrella” or “excess” policy of insurance. These policies apply in excess of all other available insurance and may offer additional protection for injuries you or a loved one has suffered.
Insurance agents are not required to offer UM/UDM or excess/umbrella coverage. It is important that you speak to your insurance agent and review your insurance policy to determine whether you have adequate coverage for a potentially catastrophic injury that could impact all aspects of your life.