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Do you need an insurance agent to purchase automobile or homeowner's insurance?

It depends.

Many people think they are fully covered when they tell their insurance agent, they want full coverage. Now with the convenience of the internet, many people do not have an insurance agent, they go online and purchase what they think is full coverage. Insurance laws change and your policy can be impacted by changes in Ohio insurance law. If you are not asking the right questions, you may think you are fully protected, but when a tragedy strikes and you must make an insurance claim, you may discover that you are not fully covered.

One important example in Ohio is uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. In 2001 Ohio law changed significantly for uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UM/UIM BI). Before October 31, 2001, insurance companies were required to offer uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage unless an individual signed a specific waiver stating they did not want that coverage. Since October 31, 2001, in Ohio you must specifically request uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage, (UM/UIM BI) or you will not have that coverage. When purchasing auto insurance, always tell your insurance agent you want UM/UIM BI coverage and if purchasing insurance online, make sure you add uninsured and underinsured bodily injury motorist coverage (UM/UIM BI). 

If you do not purchase this coverage, when you have an injury claim you will not be able to make a claim if the at fault person has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your injuries. The minimum limits in Ohio are $25,000 per person/ $50, 000 per accident. We recommend you carry at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. Try to increase this amount, if possible, and have an umbrella. Make sure you look at your policy declarations page online or when it arrives in the mail to ensure you have the full coverage you think you have on the policy.

An insurance agent should explain to you the ramifications of not having UM/UIM BI coverage. If you or a family member are injured by someone with no insurance or not enough insurance to cover the injuries, you will not be compensated if you do not have UM/UIM BI coverage. If you order a policy online, make sure you have UM/UIM BI coverage on the policy before you purchase the auto insurance.

There are many other scenarios to ask an insurance agent about to make sure you are covered before something happens. For example:

  • If your windshield is cracked from flying debris on the road, are you covered? Are you 100% responsible to pay for a new windshield? Will your auto policy cover the repair? Do you have a deductible and if so, how much is your deductible? Ask these questions when purchasing auto insurance.
  • If you rent a vehicle, does your current automobile policy cover the rental? Rental car companies offer insurance on the vehicle in case of damage while it is rented. Please check with your insurance agent to find out if you already pay for this coverage. You may not need to pay the daily rate for the extra insurance if your policy covers this loss. Ask your agent or call the company if purchasing online. The rental car company may require verification from your auto insurance company.
  • If you have a golf cart at your home and someone is injured riding the golf cart, will your auto insurance or homeowners cover the loss? It depends on the policy. It is better to ask and purchase the coverage so that you and your family are covered and protected in the event of a tragic accident involving a golf cart owned by you. Golf carts are a fun way to get around in your community. If you live in a community where you have a Homeowners Association, they may require you to have insurance on the golf cart.

There are numerous situations where auto or homeowner's insurance coverage may apply. It is always better to ask the right questions and know you are covered in the event a tragedy occurs. Hopefully you will never need the insurance coverage discussed in this blog. If you do, please call the attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers to obtain advice about your situation. We can be reached at 513-932-2115. 

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Rittgers & Rittgers, Attorneys at Law

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