Why Ohio Supreme Court Races Really Do Matter

1999 Supreme Court flyerI recently came across an old flyer from 1999 as we were cleaning out file drawers in the OIA office. The title of the flyer: “The Ohio Supreme Court’s Gavel Is Crushing Your Business!”

Fallout from an activist court

While it was before my time at OIA, I’ve heard the horrendous stories about an extremely activist Supreme Court, which handed down decisions that created havoc in the insurance industry.

The most egregious decision often cited is Scott Pontzer v. Liberty Mutual.

As ridiculous as it sounds, this decision expanded coverage from an employer’s business auto and commercial umbrella policies to an employee who was killed while driving his wife’s private automobile outside the scope of his employment.

Because of this case and other outrageous decisions handed down by the Court involving UM/UIM that expanded coverage beyond its intent, insurance companies understandably took action.

For example, they suspended the writing of any new commercial auto and umbrella policies in Ohio, raised UM/UIM premiums between 50-100 percent and excluded this coverage at renewal.

This created a real crisis of affordability and availability of UM/UIM for Ohioans in the early 2000s. This took several years to correct through legislative action and an immense effort by the insurance and business community to get new justices elected who would act like judges, not policymakers.

If you are a young agent and didn’t experience this craziness, pay attention.

This really happened… and it’s why OIA has been extremely involved in Ohio Supreme Court races for many years.

Don’t skip Supreme Court races

Ironically, a few days after this old flyer caught my eye, Tom Suddes wrote an op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer titled, “Ohio Supreme Court races absolutely matter, even if voters often skip them.”

I shared this op-ed with the OIA team about the importance of Ohio Supreme Court races. While many members of OIA’s staff have heard about the importance of these races from Jeff Smith or me over the years, this piece does a nice job highlighting the Court races. His article also mentions how voter drop-off in these races is around 25 percent.

If you are a young agent and didn’t experience this craziness, pay attention.

Pay attention in 2018

While there will not be an Ohio Supreme Court election this November, there will be two open seats next year. OIA will keep you informed on these races as they get closer.

If you monitor our social media, you have seen that both Judge Mary DeGenaro and Judge Craig Baldwin have visited OIA. Our team will be meeting additional Ohio Supreme Court candidates once it becomes clear who else is running.

Learn more about OIA advocacy initiatives

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