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How does the term 'uninsured' differ from 'underinsured' in Ohio?

Whether it is a relatively minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, getting into a car accident at best can merely ruin your day and at worst cause serious injuries necessitating a great deal of medical care and rehabilitation. No matter what, when an accident strikes, most people in Ohio are thankful they and the other party have car insurance to help foot the bill. However, sometimes a person gets into an accident with someone who is "uninsured" or "underinsured." What do these two terms mean?

In Ohio, per state law, all motorists must carry proof that they can pay for the damages they inflict on another if they cause a motor vehicle accident. Usually people do this through purchasing car insurance that contains liability coverage. In Ohio, the minimum amount required is $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per collision. If a person does not meet this dollar amount, he or she will be considered to be "uninsured."

Sometimes, however, a person does meet that minimum amount of liability coverage. However, then the person causes a serious accident in which the damages owed exceed what is covered by the person's insurance. When that happens, the person will be considered to be "underinsured."

In the end, while it is both necessary and good to carry automobile insurance, it is important to remember that insurance doesn't always cover everything should you be in an accident, whether the accident involves an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist. Moreover, insurance companies are often most concerned with their bottom line, and may be hesitant to pay the policy holder what is owed. Therefore, should a person be involved in an accident, he or she may want to consider taking legal action against the responsible party, in order to recoup compensation for the losses suffered that are not covered by insurance.

Source: Ohio State Bar Association, "Underinsured Motorist Coverage: When Auto Liability Coverage is Not Enough," accessed March 27, 2017

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