Higher minimum auto insurance requirements kick in Dec. 22

april_article1-20132For the first time in 44 years, Ohio lawmakers have increased the minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage.

The law went into effect in March, but there is a nine-month grace period so the higher minimums don’t actually kick in until December 22. Drivers are not required to change their coverage until their first policy renewal after that date.

Under the current requirements, Ohio drivers must carry insurance liability coverage that will pay up to $12,500 per person to cover injuries and medical costs, up to $25,000 per accident and up to $7,500 property damage per accident.

The new law doubles the injury liability and more than triples the property damage. The updated requirements are $25,000 injury per person or up to $50,000 per accident. The property damage liability coverage must be at least $25,000 to cover damage to other drivers’ vehicles or any other property besides your own.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, about 11 percent of licensed drivers in Ohio do not have any auto liability insurance. In addition, 5 percent of insured drivers—or 400,000 Ohioans—have only the minimum coverage and will be required to get more coverage.

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles each week distributes about 5,400 notices to vehicle owners requesting proof of insurance. Failure to produce the appropriate documents leads to an automatic suspension. Also, if a driver is in an accident or stopped for a moving violation and does not have insurance, their license will be suspended.

Both industry and consumer groups worry that the new higher minimums will push even more Ohioans to drive without insurance. Auto insurance premiums can vary widely based on factors such as driver record, age, type of vehicle and credit score. Premiums for minimum coverage are expected to increase by 25 percent to 30 percent.

However, the state with the highest minimum requirements in the nation (Maine) also has the lowest rate of uninsured drivers, at 4.5 percent so there is no definitive link between higher minimum requirements and more uninsured drivers.

This is all the more reason that you need to carry uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage. It’s a small amount extra but it provides a lot of protection and peace of mind for you and your family.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you need an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney to help you get back on your feet. We will use our experience and resources to fight the big insurance companies and get you the results you deserve and need. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or visit our website and see how we can help you.

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