Imagine that you are driving your family vehicle and you cause an accident. Would your family members riding in your vehicle be covered under your automobile policy? If you assume that they are you could be wrong. As of October 31, 2001, Ohio’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM/UIM”) statute was amended in such a way as to allow insurance companies to include policy exclusions that eliminate UM/UIM coverage for family members. This is known as an “intra-family exclusion.”
The distressing part is that Ohio courts have almost uniformly upheld these exclusions in the face of legal challenges. What can you do to protect your family members in these situations? The only answer to the problem is to make absolutely certain that your UM/UIM policy does not contain an exclusion for family members when an insured is driving and causes an accident. Contact your agent and ask them directly whether your policy contains such an exclusion. If it does, you may have to change insurance carriers in order to find a policy that will cover family members in your vehicle under these circumstances. While no one wants to think about being the cause of an accident, it’s much worse to be the cause and then find out your family is not protected.