According to the Ohio Department of Insurance Guide to Automobile Insurance, automobile liability insurance (which pays the other party if you are at fault) may only cover the “named insured” under the policy or coverage may extend to family members who are resident in your household. The question of whether the insurance will follow the driver to another vehicle may depend on whether that car is a substitute for your car which is identified in the policy. Whether that substitute car is available for your regular use, may well determine whether you are insured when you drive it. If it is and it is not listed on your policy, then you may not be covered while driving that car. But if it is a car which you are only able to use by borrowing it from someone else or it is a rental, then your liability insurance should protect you in the event of an accident .
If you borrow a car for an extended period of time because your car cannot be driven due to mechanical issues, then your friend’s car may qualify as a substitute and you will be covered under the policy.
People are often surprised and disappointed to learn that under Ohio law an insurance company may sell you a liability policy which does not apply if you accidentally cause injury to another member of your family.
How much liability insurance should I have?
This question is often asked after a serious accident, which is too late. Ohio’s Financial Responsibility law says that it is illegal to drive without liability insurance and every insurance policy issued in Ohio must have minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident (25/50). Many insurance companies sell policies with this minimal insurance because it and can be sold inexpensively. But, as in most things in life, you get what you pay for. And with medical expenses being what they are today, it is not difficult to find yourself at fault for an accident in which the damages to the other party far exceed these low limits. The personal injury attorneys at Rubin Guttman and Associates recommend that you purchase the largest limits you can afford in order to ensure that your financial health is protected against a large liability claim. Saving a few dollars in premiums in order to buy a cheaper automobile liability insurance policy can wind up costing you a lot more later on. And if you match these higher limits with a similar uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, you will protect your family as well. But more on that in a future blog post.
If this all seems confusing and complex, it is because it often is. Insurance policies are generally written to protect the insurance company and you have to really read your policy carefully, before an accident happens to make sure that you have the coverage that you want. Review your policy and your declaration sheet, ask questions of the agent who is selling it to you and make sure that you understand the answers. Never be shy about asking questions. And that goes for calling us at 1 ( 888) GUTTLAW as well.