The State of Ohio requires you to carry liability insurance in order to legally operate a motor vehicle. So in the land of good hands and good neighbors, critters and fancy commercials just what does your policy really provide? They all provide liability insurance as required by the state but that’s where the similarities end. Under Governor Taft’s administration the insurance industry was, in a sense, deregulated in Ohio. Protections required by law for you as the owner of the policy and your family members were removed. All policies start with some language to the effect that they will pay the legal liabilities you incur for operating a motor vehicle. The rest of the numerous pages of the policy are exceptions to this basic statement. They start by creating a “blanket of coverage” and then they punch holes in it. We now are seeing language in policies such as: there is no coverage for a bodily injury to any member of an insured family residing in the insured’s household. This creates a huge coverage hole for you and your family. It’s probably safe to say that the average person spends more time in the car with family members than they do anybody else. A family member is usually defined in policies as a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption and living in the same household. So, for example, a husband and wife and their children are traveling in a car. The husband/father is driving and they stop and pick up a hitchhiker along the road and continue on their way. The father doesn’t see a red light, drives through the intersection and is clobbered by a tractor-trailer seriously injuring everybody in the car. The policy you paid for may not cover the wife/mother and the children because of this exclusion.
The hitchhiker, however, is covered. That would be the end of the story with some carriers. No coverage for your family members, the people you paid to protect. Some carriers would provide coverage, some carriers have taken a piece meal approach to it and will tell you their policy doesn’t cover it but in this situation they’ll help you out. This means they know they really should be covering the claim but since they were able to hoodwink you on the policy, they’re only going to pay a portion of your damages. We suggest you ask your agent specifically if your automobile policy will cover family members in your car if you cause the collision.
We suggest you get the answer in writing because sometimes we find agents are uninformed about all the changes that the insurance companies have put into the policy. Unfortunately, we see tragic situations like the one discussed in this article all too often. Find out who you are really insuring with your policy.