Pastor Flynn Addresses Insurance Committee

On Tuesday, October 16, 2007, room 121 at the State capitol in Columbus was packed to over flowing. One was pressed to find an empty seat as narrow, black wooden chairs were jammed together to get as many people seated as possible, yet many more stood along the back wall to hear the testimonies in support of HB 258, which seeks to raise the state minimum insurance for bodily injury for Ohio drivers from $12,500 to $25,000.

Pastor Ralph H. Flynn, Bellevue, was one of three who gave very strong arguments in favor of, and for the need to raise the limits. Those giving ear to all that was stated were the Chairman William Batchelder and the 33 members of the Ohio Insurance Committee. Each speaker was required by the committee to submit his or her script before speaking. Channel 10 WBNS TV covered the proceedings both inside and outside the chamber. 610 WTVN News Radio has been on top of the story as well.

Attorney Shawn Little, a woman attorney from Columbus who is a member of the negligence law committee of the Ohio State Bar Association, was the first to testify.  Little stated that “from the Plaintiff’s perspective, I have the heart breaking task of telling 2 or 3 people every month that, ‘yes’, you paid your insurance premiums for adequate coverage, but ‘no’ the person that caused your collision does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills let alone 2 or 3 weeks off of work.”

She suggested that, “we must make sure that people driving the streets of Ohio have minimum coverage that matches the increased rates of medical bills, lost wages, inflation, etc.”

“From a Defense perspective”, Little noted, “an insured with $12,500 in minimum limits leaves himself open to further recovery against his assets.” She concluded her two-page testimony with these words, “We need to protect all Ohio drivers – both the injured and the negligent – from a minimum that no longer protects anyone.”

The next person to speak was Attorney William Strubbe, practicing in Cincinnati. He was the former chair of the Ohio State Bar Association Committees on Negligence Law and Insurance Law. He currently chairs the Cincinnati Bar Association Ethics Committee. Strubbe began his testimony with “when I was chair of the Ohio State Bar Negligence Law Committee – which had both plaintiff’s and insurance defense attorneys on it – we proposed the changes contained in HB 258” that would raise the limit from $12,500 to $25,000. “When the matter came before the Bar’s Board of Delegates – which included 160 lawyers of every discipline you have ever heard of – there was only one negative vote.”

Strubbe clearly stated, “when an underinsured motorist causes an accident, we all pay. When ‘the system absorbs the cost’ what really happens is that our auto insurance rates go up, our medical insurance premiums go up. We – if we are injured, and do not have Underinsured Motorist coverage – go uncompensated.”

“Those of us,” Strubbe added, “who are insured, watch our premiums rise because other people are not responsible enough to get insurance. Being responsible enough to get insurance carries an additional cost – that of getting enough insurance to pay for the acts of the irresponsible.”

Atty. Strubbe concluded with this thought: “With minimum limits of $12,500 we have a system that encourages insufficient liability coverage, that punishes responsible people who care enough about their families to buy adequate insurance, and that insulates the irresponsible from the consequences of their actions. It offers very little incentive to be responsible, and to purchase enough insurance coverage to protect others from the damage that any driver may cause.”

By this time, a few more committee members showed up as well as a few more visitors. Not only was the meeting heating up, so was the temperature from so many people being in the room.

The third person to speak was Pastor Ralph H. Flynn, Faith Bible Church of Bellevue, Bellevue, Ohio. Pastor Flynn had been in an accident on July 22, 2007 caused by a driver who carried only the State of Ohio minimum of $12,500. Following are parts of his testimony. The whole testimony can be read online at www.pastorflynn.com.

Flynn, began with “I would like to address this issue from two aspects: Reality and Common Sense. Common Sense tells us that when we drive we need to have insurance. Reality tells us how much that insurance should be.”

“Both Reality and Common Sense tell us that the current amount of injury liability insurance of $12,500 is too low and outdated by the current costs of hospitals, doctors, medical staff, and equipment required to treat injuries suffered due to an auto accident.”

“I like the theme: Your Fault – You Pay. But in Reality, with too low of a minimum this is not the case. Let’s look at my bills that have been paid so far by my insurance company. Notice I said my insurance company. Both the present $12,500 and the proposed $25,000 fall short of meeting my medical expenses.”

“The ride to the hospital by Lifeflight was $8,472.20 and my four days in the hospital $61,407.07. The bill for the work done on my face by the plastic surgeon was $3,641.25.” I have more stitches in my mouth than Grandma’s patch work quilt. The total at the time of the hearing was nearly $82,000. This does not include the 6-9 months of dental work I am presently under going because all of my front teeth were knocked out at impact. My insurance company is paying, not because they like me, but because I had a rider for $100,000 underinsured coverage.

Flynn concluded that he “would be in favor of minimums even higher than those proposed in HB 258. But it just makes Common Sense to set Ohio off in the right direction toward better minimum coverage, and that’s what HB 258 does.”

Pastor Flynn received word that this bill might be voted on in the committee by the end of October 2007. It will then have to be approved by the House and Senate before going to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill needs the support of all who drive in Ohio. But beware! You can’t count on the other driver to be covered. It is best that you check your own policy for both uninsured and underinsured coverage. Keep nothing less than $100,000 of each. A short note to your State Representative and State Senator will go a long way to increase the State of Ohio minimum liability coverage. We need more protection. We need HB 258 as it is with no amendments.

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