Liability Insurance Policy - The Family Member Exclusion

One of the reasons Ohio residents purchase automobile liability insurance is to protect their families when they have been involved in a serious automobile crash.  However, many insurance companies include an exclusion that takes away coverage when one family member negligently causes an accident and other family member passengers are injured. 

For example, assume that a family of four (a husband, wife, and two children) are driving together to a movie.  The husband is driving the vehicle, loses control of the vehicle on a snowy road, and crashes the car into a telephone pole.  The wife and two children suffer a variety of fractured bones as a result and incur medical expenses of $75,000.  Under this scenario, if the wife and two children filed a claim against the family's automobile liability insurer, the claim likely would not be covered.  Many insurance companies include a provision that says that the insurance does not apply when the injured people are family members who reside in the same household as the driver.   If on the other hand, this same crash took place, but this time the driver was transporting three of his friends to the movies,  all of the passengers would be entitled to bring claims against their driver that would be covered under the driver's insurance policy.

Not all insurance companies have this "family exclusion".  It is important for consumers to find out if their auto policies have this loophole.  If it does have this escape provision, then it would make sense to change one's insurance  to a company that does honor this type of claim.

Having adequate insurance is an important way for people to be responsible and protect themselves and others when their negligence causes serious injury.   The Ohio Legislature needs to step up and address this issue and forbid insurance companies from eliminating coverage between family members.