Legislation initiated by the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) that enhances insurance benefits for Ohioans living in counties affected by mine collapses passed the Ohio General Assembly last week and is headed to Governor Taft for his signature.
House Bill (H.B.) 425 changes the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance program to increase benefit payouts and expand coverage for victims whose homes or other non-commercial structures collapse from underground abandoned mines.
“Coal mining has been an active industry in Ohio for more than a century and approximately 5,000 underground mines have been abandoned,” Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin said. “Ohio’s Mine Subsidence Insurance program offers low-cost insurance to protect property owners from structural damage caused by the collapse of an underground mine. I encourage Ohioans to call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 to learn more about mine subsidence insurance.”
“While property damage from mine subsidence is infrequent, it is potential hazard that impacts the safety and economic well being of families and communities in Ohio’s coal-bearing counties,” Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Sam Speck said. “The General Assembly and the Ohio Department of Insurance have shown great leadership in recognizing the importance of mine subsidence insurance and making significant improvements in the coverage it provides.”
Sponsored by Jimmy Stewart (R – Athens), H.B. 425 allows the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Underwriting Association, which administers the program, to increase the maximum coverage for a dwelling from $50,000 to $300,000 and allows the program to insure structures such as garages, fences, barns and sidewalks.
Under the program, annual insurance premiums are $1 for policyholders in mandatory counties and $5 in optional counties. Premiums are paid into the Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund. Coverage is offered by insurance agents that sell property and homeowners insurance.
Thirty-seven Ohio counties are eligible for mine subsidence coverage under the program and 26 are mandated counties (Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Scioto, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington). The optional counties are Delaware, Erie, Geauga, Lake, Licking, Medina, Ottawa, Portage, Preble, Summit, and Wayne counties.
“By updating our laws it is my hope that we can provide yet another safeguard for families and property owners,” Representative Stewart said.
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