Amy J. McKee


Understanding how to access underinsured motorist benefits involves a myriad of complex issues. This comment shall focus on two threshold areas of underinsured motorist coverage: the statutory definition of an underinsured motorist and contractual condition precedents enumerated in the insurance policy. If the tortfeasor meets the definition of an underinsured motorist, as defined in the statute, the insured must still comply with three provisions in the contract; the exhaustion clause, the subrogation clause and the consent to settle clause. An insured must first procure the consent of his insurer before he settles with the tortfeasor. However, the insurer will withhold his consent if the insured has not exhausted all applicable bodily injury bonds and policies by judgment or settlement. The insured, in the process of exhausting all other policies must not destroy the insurer's subrogation rights. Today courts, legislatures and the public struggle with these issues in an effort to formulate a viable compensation scheme for those who are injured by drivers who possess inadequate insurance. When analyzing the activation of underinsured motorist coverage, close attention should be paid to the state statutes, insurance policies and case law. While Ohio law will be emphasized, other state law will constantly be referred to throughout the entirety of this comment. The goal of this comment is twofold, to present a multifacit approach to understanding the threshold issues involved and to provide practical solutions to these issues.

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