Why Should I Get More Auto Insurance than What Is Required in Ohio?

Ohio with blue backgroundOhio maintains financial responsibility laws that require motorists to pay for damages that they are responsible for in an accident. When a motorist buys auto insurance, it must include bodily injury and property damage liability coverage with minimum limits, but these limits may not be high enough to cover more severe accidents.

If a policy threshold is exceeded, the at-fault policyholder may still be financially responsible for the remaining cost of damages, which may include medical, vehicle repair, and legal costs. According to state regulators, motorists who lack adequate coverage and funds to cover those costs could have their home, car, and other assets taken from them.

Ohio Has Low Minimum Liability Limits

Because of this, many auto insurance companies in Ohio encourage residents to at least consider purchasing policies that include higher liability thresholds and additional coverage. Ohio has one of the lowest minimums for liability coverage in the nation. Residents are required to maintain a limit of only 12.5/25/7.5—which provides a total of $32,500 in coverage per accident-but these levels could be easily exceeded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in 2005 the average cost of being hospitalized for a head injury, for example, ranged from $11,000 to more than $120,000 depending on the severity of the injury. These estimated costs can reach well over the minimum bodily injury liability required in the Buckeye State, which may prove financially devastating for a motorist with minimum coverage.

Many insurers encourage motorists to raise their liability limits to 100/300/50 to be better prepared for more severe injuries.

Consider First-Party Coverages as Well

Although Ohio car insurance laws require residents to carry automobile protection to pay for damages to others, damage to an at-fault motorist's own vehicle may not be covered.

Drivers are encouraged to consider purchasing additional comprehensive and collision coverage to protect against these damages. The collision portion of this protection pays for damages sustained during a crash with another vehicle. The comprehensive portion is commonly referred to as "other than collision" coverage because it covers an extensive array of damages, including fire, flooding, vandalism, falling objects, and theft.

Motorists may also want to consider adding medical payment coverage (med-pay) to cover various medical expenses for policyholders, their passengers, and members of their family after an accident, up to the limits of the policy.
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Including additional forms of vehicle protection is likely to increase a motorist's premium, so residents are urged to consider how they can best improve their policy. A vehicle owner can often increase liability limits for only a few extra premium dollars, but adding med-pay coverage may not be entirely necessary for motorists with adequate health insurance.

Additionally, some vehicle owners with lower valued automobiles may not benefit economically from maintaining comprehensive and collision coverage, which will cover only up to the fair market value of the insured vehicle, minus the policyholder's deductible.