David P. Miraldi
As we have reported in the past, most Ohio insurance companies have added exclusions into their automobile policies that exclude from coverage any claim brought by one family member against another arising out of an auto accident. For example, if your husband was driving the car with his daughter and the daughter’s friend in the car and was negligent in causing an accident, this exclusion would not allow the daughter to recover any insurance benefits under the family policy (while her friend who was not a family member could recover.) These exclusions make it impossible for responsible people to protect themselves in these situations. Insurance companies have argued that these exclusions are necessary to defeat fraudulent claims cooked up by dishonest family members. We along with other attorneys have sought to publicize this outrageous situation and urge our legislators to make these provisions illegal.
One bill that is slowly moving through our general assembly is Senate Bill 293. This bill would prohibit insurers from enforcing an intra-family exclusion where a family member is killed in an auto accident. Recently, hearings took place before the Ohio Senate insurance committee. One Cincinnati couple testified and recalled their experience of being denied coverage for an accident in which their daughter died and their son was the negligent driver. Although this bill is a step in the right direction, the legislature should prohibit the intra-family exclusion all together in all situations. Insurance companies have the ability to determine when a claim is fraudulent. There is no need to disqualify all of the valid claims because of the fear of a fraudulent one.
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