This article provides an introduction to car insurance laws and rules in Ohio. We'll look at Ohio’s financial responsibility laws and the amounts of coverage that vehicle owners are required to carry in Ohio. (If you’re looking for more general information on the legal rules related to auto accidents in Ohio, you’ll find it in our companion article Car Accident Laws in Ohio.)
Ohio is a "Fault" Car Insurance State
Ohio follows a traditional “fault” or "tort" system when it comes to car accidents, meaning the person who was legally to blame for causing the accident is also liable for all resulting losses, including injuries to other drivers and passengers, and vehicle damage.
Assuming that an at-fault driver has car insurance, that coverage will usually kick in to pay for losses resulting from the crash, up to the limits of the insurance policy. Under Ohio's system, a person who is injured or who suffers property damage after a car accident may usually seek compensation in one of three ways:
- by filing a claim under his or her own car insurance policy
- by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court (their insurance coverage will likely defend against the suit), or
- by pursuing a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurer (this is known as a third-party claim).
Note: In no-fault states, an injured motorist must exhaust his or her own policy’s limits or reach a statutory threshold of damages -- without regard to who caused the accident -- before pursuing a claim against another driver. Why are we including this information in an article about Ohio car insurance rules? The state of Ohio is bordered by three no-fault states: Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. So if you end up getting into a car accident in one of those places, you may be playing by a different set of rules. Get the details in our No-Fault Car Insurance topic.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in Ohio
Like almost all states, Ohio requires that the owner of a motor vehicle maintain a certain amount of insurance coverage on the vehicle, or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility in case an accident occurs. Most people meet this requirement by carrying a liability insurance policy on the vehicle, but you can also comply by getting a certificate of proof of financial responsibility approved by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
If you choose to carry liability insurance, the minimum requirements for coverage are:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person (a passenger, another driver, pedestrian, etc.)
- $50,000 total for all injury or death caused by a single accident, and
- $25,000 for any property damage arising out of a single accident.
These are just the minimum amounts required under Ohio law. It's usually a prudent move to carry more protection in Ohio, since the minimum coverage requirements can easily be exhausted, especially after a serious accident. That means, if you are deemed liable for an accident and other people's damages exceed the limits of your insurance policy, you'll probably be on the financial hook to pay the difference from your own assets.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Not Required in Ohio
Ohio does not require that car insurance policies sold in the state include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
UIM coverage supplements your own policy and protects you from a situation where another driver is at-fault and either has no insurance or has insurance that is insufficient to cover your losses.
For example, if the other driver has the state minimum of $25,000 and your medical and rehabilitative costs are $50,000, then your own insurer would pay the remaining $25,000 if you have purchased sufficient UIM protection.
Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in Ohio
In Ohio, if you're caught driving without a liability insurance policy and without other accepted proof of financial responsibility, you can expect to face any of the following penalties, among others:
- suspension of your driver’s license for up to 90 days (and up to a full year for a repeat offense)
- impoundment of your vehicle and/or your license plates
- a reinstatement fee of $75 to get your driver's license back (up to $500 for a repeat offense), and
- the requirement that you show proof of compliance with insurance/financial responsibility laws.
More Information on Ohio Car Insurance Rules
For more information on Ohio’s motor vehicle insurance requirements straight from the government, you can check out this Ohio Auto Insurance Guide from the Ohio Department of Insurance.