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 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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.