The Difference Between Underinsured Coverage for Kentucky and Ohio Residents
Posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2017 at 7:29 am
The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Raphael Jackson, a law student from the Chase School of Law.
Being involved in an automobile accident can be a trying experience. Even long after the accident, negotiating with insurance providers is often a major source of stress for either party involved. Given the stress of the situation it is a common temptation for the insured to agree to a quick settlement, regardless of how unfavorable it might be, simply for the sake of moving forward. In order to prevent such a situation, it is important to be fully informed of your rights and responsibilities, as well as the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
According to a 2014 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council, one in eight drivers in the United States are uninsured. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, nearly 16% of all motorists are uninsured. In the state of Ohio, the number of uninsured drivers is approaching 14%. This means that if you are injured in an automobile accident in Kentucky or Ohio, you run a 14% and 16% chance, respectively, of having to deal with a party who is uninsured. In order to protect themselves from such a scenario, many drivers purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM). UM is offered as a standard on every insurance policy. It can, however, be waived by request.
Another scenario you may experience is being involved in an accident with a driver who has insurance but doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the property damage or personal injury caused to themselves or others. This category of insured drivers is commonly known as underinsured motorist coverage, or (UIM). Whenever a claimant makes a claim against her own insurance this is also known as a first party insurance claim. Remember this important difference: both an uninsured claim and an underinsured claim are claims made against your own insurance policy, but an uninsured claim is made when the at-fault driver had no insurance, while an underinsured claim is made when the at-fault driver didn’t have enough insurance.
Ohio vs. Kentucky Handle No-Fault Benefits Very Differently
Some states require insurance companies to compensate the injured for medical expenses and/or lost wages regardless of who was at fault in the accident. States which enforce this regulation are known as no-fault states. Other states follow an insurance arrangement in which one party is assigned most of the blame of the accident. The party to which the blame was assigned is then legally liable for the damages. This is known as a tort system.
Ohio follows the tort system, which operates on the theory of comparative negligence. Comparative Negligence, for insurance recovery purposes, means that if one party is more than 50% responsible for the accident then that party is not entitled to damages.
If you are involved in an automobile accident in Kentucky, you are not required to prove that the other driver was at fault in order for you to be compensated by your insurance company. In no fault states the portion of the insurance that covers the expenses is known as Personal Injury Protection or PIP. PIP covers motorists and pedestrians injured by motorists. Fault notwithstanding, basic PIP in Kentucky provides up to $10,000 per person per accident, for any “out of pocket” costs due to an injury. Any insurance policy that you purchase in Kentucky automatically comes with PIP coverage. Thus, all insured motor vehicles in Kentucky are required to have basic PIP coverage.
Basic Insurance Coverage Rules in Ohio
Ohio does not directly require a motorist to purchase automobile insurance, however Ohio requires all drivers to have “proof of financial responsibility,” which proves that they can pay for injuries or damages to others if they cause a car accident. Proof of financial responsibility can be, and is typically satisfied when the motorist purchases the minimally required Bodily Injury Liability coverage and Property Damage Liability coverage. The minimum bodily injury coverage in Ohio is $25,000 per injured, per accident, and $50,000 for all persons injured in any one accident. The required minimum for Property Damage Liability coverage is $25,000. In the event that the damage exceeds the minimum insurance coverage you can be held personally, legally responsible for any amount which exceeds your policy limits.
For the UIM insurance holder, any damages remaining in excess of the basic policy limit will trigger the UIM insurance, and the UIM will cover the difference between his or her UIM limits and the underinsured driver’s liability limits. UIM insurance typically covers the driver along with his vehicle. The insured is entitled to this coverage whether she is involved in an accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. The insurance policies may cover family members related through marriage and or legal adoption. However, the primary insured may not cover any other family members who have purchased their own insurance policies independent of the primary insured. Passengers can also be covered under the primary UIM insurance policy; the insured must review the specific language in order to determine how UIM coverage can be applied.
Basic Insurance Coverage Rules in Kentucky
The requisite insurance coverage for all ensured motor vehicles, with the exception of motorcycles, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is PIP. PIP, or personal injury protection, offers up to $10,000 per insured per accident. In order for the injured party to recover any medical expenses, the medical treatment for the injuries they sustained must be in the excess of $1,000.
Assuming that both drivers, or driver and pedestrian, are both minimally insured, then the question arises is who is responsible for paying the PIP. Regardless of whoever is at fault in the collision, if a pedestrian or a cyclist is struck by an automobile, then the PIP insurance from the automobile involved in the accident is also extended to that cyclist or pedestrian. Kentucky Law provides that the statute of limitations for an action for PIP benefits is two years from the time the person suffers the loss of wages or incurred the medical bills caused by the accident.
As mentioned earlier, if you are involved in an automobile accident in Kentucky or Ohio you run a 14% and 16% chance, respectively, of having to deal with a party who is uninsured. In order to protect themselves from such a scenario, many drivers purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM). UM is offered as a standard on every insurance policy. It can, however, be waived by written request.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Access Auto Insurance Coverage?
If you have been involved in an accident and are attempting to make a first party insurance claim, it may be wise to seek legal assistance in creating your claim. Although they theoretically exist to work for your benefit, insurance companies are ultimately profit seeking corporations. It should be of no surprise that minimizing their corporate expenses may take precedent over satisfying your claim in full. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to either deny a claim or attempt to make a quick settlement which may not cover all of your expenses. As mentioned earlier many people find that the stress of attempting to make an insurance claim, with an insurance company who is reluctant to fulfill their contractual obligations, more stressful than the actual accident that they have recently been involved in. This is why it is important to ensure that you can properly negotiate your options and receive the full amount you are entitled to. One way of ensuring this is to speak to an attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to navigate the complicated process and conduct favorable negotiations on your behalf.
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