Thursday, January 20, 2011

Legal Limits vs. Adequate Limits

Several auto insurance companies are doing a great deal of advertising about keeping you legal for less premium. What does that mean? All states including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Canadian provinces require you to carry Automobile Liability Insurance with certain minimum limits of coverage. In Ohio those limits are $12,500/person/$25,000/accident for Bodily Injury and $7,500 for Property Damage Liability. In Indiana and Kentucky the minimum limits are $25,000/50,000/10,000. In Wisconsin, for example, the minimum limits are $50,000/100,000/15,000. In some of the Canadian provinces the limit is $200,000. In short, if you carry the minimum required limits in a particular state or Canadian province, you are legally in compliance with that state or province's Financial Responsibility Laws.

But if you are legally in compliance, is that the same as adequate limits of liability protection? In our opinion, higher limits of protection are highly recommended to protect your assets, future earnings and driving privileges. For example, if you rear-end another party and cause serious bodily injury and/or property damage, your minimum limits Auto Policy might initially take care of the other person's medical bills, loss of income and pain and suffering and/or repair their car, but if it is not enough, the injured party could come after you for more. They could tie up your assets, you future earnings, your driver's license and car registration, etc. for long time. Even if you file bankruptcy they could still make it difficult for you to function while you are going through the process.

So what are adequate limits? Unfortunately there is no formula for determining this. With your home you can insure it for the replacement cost of the house using various estimation tools plus discussions with architects and contractors can help you determine the proper amount. There is no such simple formula to determine how much liability insurance to carry, but it is safe to say that Ohio's limits of $12,500/25,000/7,500 are not adequate even if they are legal in the event of a serious automobile accident. We would suggest limits of no less than $100,000/300,000/100,000 or $250,000/500,000/100,000 for your consideration. In addition, if you desire and need higher limits, buying a Personal Umbrella Liability Policy with limits of at least $1,000,000 or higher is highly recommended.

In Fey Insurance’s opinion, the minimum limits of protection imposed by states and the Canadian provinces are a start vs. no insurance at all, but they are not adequate to protect you in the event of a serious automobile accident.