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DO STATE MINIMUM INSURANCE LIMITS PROTECT MOTORISTS?

Betsy and Ross are newly married and have bought their first car together.  As they are obtaining a new title to the car at the county clerk of courts title office, they are required to sign a sworn affidavit that they maintain state minimum insurance limits on their Ford. What are state minimum insurance limits?  I turns out that each state has enacted statutory amounts of automobile insurance that every driver MUST have.  These are intended to offer at least minimal protection for the OTHER driver if Betsy or Ross causes an accident. Ohio has among the lowest state minimum insurance limits in the land: $12,500 per person/$25,000 per accident for bodily injuries and $7500 property damage.  Being on a budget, Betsy and Ross take out state minimum limits. State minimum limits allow them to get their drivers licenses and a title for their. It is illegal to drive without any insurance, and someone caught doing so risks losing his license and will incur a costly reinstatement fee if he eventually gets insurance. Sadly, Betsy learns the hard way that texting Ross a quick message while driving is dangerous and foolhardy, as she runs a stop sign and T-bones George's minivan totaling both vehicles out and sending George to the hospital with a broken wrist, where he amasses $15,000 in medical bills. Betsy's state minimum insurance is now available to pay George up to $12,500 for his bodily or personal injuries, which is the most Betsy's insurance can pay any one person under her bodily injuries insurance coverage.  Her insurance company will also pay up to $7500 to replace George's minivan because this is the most Betsy's insurance company can pay in property damage for any one accident. Unfortunately, since George's medical bills exceed Betsy's state minimum insurance coverage, and since the $7500 her company paid replaces only about a third of the cost of George's new minivan, George will sue Betsy for the rest of his losses. State minimum insurance limits kept Betsy and Ross legal--they were able to obtain a title to their car but they didn't get enough insurance to cover the damages of an accident.  Now they're going to be paying this off for years to come. And by the way, they'll be taking the bus to and from work while they pay George off because their State Minimum insurance ONLY covers other cars.  It didn't cover Betsy and Ross' car, which was totaled, too. State Minimum Insurance Limits are just that--the minimum needed to get an auto title and keep a driver "legal" but not enough to keep you safe! Authored by Stuart F Cubbon is a personal injury attorney and partner at Cubbon and Associates, a Toledo Law Firm providing legal services to injured persons, and a past President of the Toledo Bar Association.  419-243-7243.

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