Ohio requires liability coverage only, but is it enough?
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For Ohio’s 8 million licensed drivers, car insurance is a necessity, though the mandatory rates and coverages are minimal compared to the rest of the U.S. On this page, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about car insurance in Ohio, plus some other interesting laws about driving. For example, did you know you can self-insure if you have more than 25 vehicles and $30,000? We’re covering it all, from DUIs to distracted driving.
This is the minimum coverage required in Ohio:
Together, bodily injury and property damage make up liability coverage, with a total liability limit of $100,000.
Of course, liability coverage and full coverage are two different things. Full coverage includes not only liability coverage, but also comprehensive and collision coverage and medical payments coverage. The problem with buying only the minimum coverage is that it will only pay for the other party’s damages and injuries in accidents you cause. If you only had the minimum coverage, you would have to pay for your own injuries and damages out of pocket.
To get reimbursed for your property damages, bodily injuries, and even deaths, you’ll need full-coverage car insurance with liability limits upward of $500,000, or however much you can afford. For collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, the limit is your car’s actual market value. We also recommend buying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in case:
Comprehensive coverage covers damages to your car that result from incidents other than collisions – such as auto theft, car vandalism, hail damage, and other natural disasters.
Ohio’s 8 million licensed drivers pay an average of $781 a year for car insurance, a quarter less than the national average, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This number breaks down into these coverage costs:
But this average of $781 is just that – an average. You may pay anywhere from $299 to $4,658.99 for car insurance annually in Ohio, probably on the higher end for young drivers. Be sure to compare auto insurance quotes from multiple providers to get the lowest price.
Ohio has more than enough insurance companies for drivers to choose from:
Naturally, you can save money on car insurance in Ohio by comparing quotes to find the cheapest car insurance companies. Beyond that, you can raise your auto insurance deductible, lower your limits, or drop insurance coverages you may not need, like collision coverage on a car that doesn’t run. Also, ask your auto insurance agent for any car insurance discounts that could apply to you. For example, you may save money if you pay for an annual policy rather than a six-month policy.
In Ohio, you must drive with proof of insurance, whether digital or physical. If you don’t have proof of insurance, you’ll face license and registration suspension, plus up to $660 in fees.
|Offense number||First||Second (within 5 years of previous offense)||Third (within 5 years of previous offense)|
|Suspension of license||Impoundment of license until requirements are met||1 year, but may have limited driving privileges after first 15 days of suspension||2 years, but may have limited driving privileges after first 30 days of suspension|
|Suspension of registration and impoundment of plates||Until you pay the fees||Until you pay the fees||Until you pay the fees|
|Compliance fee maximum||$50||$50||$50|
|Registrar service fee||$10||$10||$10|
Now that you’re equipped with the minimum coverage, here’s everything you need to know about driving in Ohio.
Ohio’s at-fault insurance system means the person at fault in an accident pays for the other party’s bodily injuries and property damages. The victim can sue for damages in a civil suit and collect payment as long as they were less at fault than the perpetrator or 50% at fault, according to the state’s modified comparative negligence laws.
Uninsured motorist coverage isn’t required in Ohio, and insurance companies aren’t required to offer it. We recommend getting it anyway, as the Insurance Research Council estimates that 13 percent of drivers in Ohio were uninsured as of 2019.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage for multiple cars, you can stack your coverage. For instance, if you had four cars with a $10,000 limit each, your stacked limit would be $40,000 for each car.
In Ohio, DUIs will stay on your driving record for six years. For the first offense, you’ll receive a 90-day license suspension, with some driving privileges restored after 15 days. Interlocks are required for repeat violations, although the court will decide how long you need to have the interlock. For blood alcohol concentrations of 0.17 percent and over, the penalties increase:
People in the driver and front-passenger seats must wear seat belts, along with children ages 8 to 15 in any seat3. However, this law is only under secondary enforcement, so police can’t stop you for seat belt violations alone4. For them to pull you over, violations under primary enforcement must accompany this violation type.
While texting and driving is banned for all ages, only drivers under the age of 18 are banned from using handheld devices while driving. Enforcement is secondary for adults and primary for people under 18. For the first offense, adults could face $150 fines5, plus two points on their driving record per violation. Drivers under 18 will also face license suspensions.
It’s no secret that there are more driving restrictions for teens, who, for example, are the only drivers in Ohio who can’t use handheld devices at all while driving. These are the restrictions for those under 18 in the first year of their probationary licenses:
If you’re under 18 and traveling to or from work, you’ll need to fill out and have with you BMV Form 2825 (https://publicsafety.ohio.gov/static/bmv2825.pdf). If you’re traveling to or from a school-sponsored or religious event, you should fill out and keep BMV Form 2826 (https://publicsafety.ohio.gov/static/bmv2826.pdf).
These are the restrictions for drivers still under 18 following their first year of being licensed:
If drivers under 18 have multiple traffic convictions, their licenses could be suspended, with a six-month minimum for alcohol-related convictions.
If you get into a car accident and want to file a claim, you must file within four years of the accident to receive reimbursement, whether it’s a property damage or personal injury claim.
Insurance companies can’t just cancel your policy for no reason. They can cancel it if you committed fraud on a claim, misrepresented yourself on your application, or have a revoked or suspended license, but they must alert you 30 days before the policy’s expiration date. If the cancellation is due to nonpayment, that window shortens to 10 days.
Insurance companies can always choose not to renew your policy at the end of its term, but they need to give you 30 days’ notice before the termination date so you have time to look for a new policy.
Have more than 25 vehicles and $30,000? Congratulations – you can self-insure in the state of Ohio! You can do this in a few different ways:
If you have an out-of-state title or registration you want to convert to an Ohio title or registration, you’ll need to get your car inspected first. Here’s how:
|Region of Ohio||Inspection site address|
|Central||1640 Alum Creek Drive Columbus, OH 43209|
|East||4633 Glenn Highway Cambridge, OH 43725|
|Northeast||5525 W. 140th St. Brook Park, OH 44142|
|Northeast||1653 Marion Road Bucyrus, OH 44820|
|Northeast||3424 Parkman Road Southington, OH 44470|
|Northwest||8210 County Road 140 Findlay, OH 45840|
|South||25 McCarty Lane Jackson, OH 45640|
|Southwest||9971 Cincinnati Dayton Road West Chester Township, OH 45069|
|West||1275 Experiment Farm Road, Suite D Troy, OH 45373|
You can find a list of e-check locations online (https://www.ohioecheck.info/locations) or by calling 800-227-83787.
If you’ve been caught driving without insurance in Ohio, even if you’re from out of state, you’ll have to get an SR-22 to reinstate your license. An SR-22 is a form that proves you have minimum liability insurance8.
If you have two to 11 points on your driving record, you’ll be court-ordered to take a defensive driving course. If you plead guilty to a distracted driving traffic violation, you can take a distracted driving course instead of paying the maximum $100 fine. You’ll get a two-point reduction per eight-hour class. You can find a course here: https://services.dps.ohio.gov/DETS/public/schools.
In Ohio, you can sue for economic and noneconomic damages in a civil suit without meeting a specific monetary or serious injury threshold. So, no matter how small your losses or how mild your injuries are, you can file a suit.
Ohio has strict accident reporting laws. You must report all crashes immediately or face a maximum fine of $150.
In most states, people with bad credit and men pay more for car insurance. While some states ban pricing discrimination based on these factors, Ohio is not one of those states. Without these protections, someone with a low credit score and a clean driving record will receive higher auto insurance rates than someone with a good credit score and a clean record.
Ohio uses the total loss formula to determine whether a car is worth repairing. If the car’s salvage value is less than the cost of the repair, it is declared a total loss.
Need to register your car, get a duplicate title, or contact the state’s insurance department? Stop sifting through government websites – we’ve gathered the information for you.
If you’re registering a car for the first time, follow these steps:
You’ll need to renew your registration 90 days before its expiration date.
There are multiple ways to get in touch with the BMV.
Follow these steps to get a copy of your car title:
You can contact the state’s insurance department through these methods.
Car repairs in Ohio cost 10 percent less than the national average at only $348.79. That’s $140.61 for labor and $208.18 for parts, according to CarMD.
While car theft is relatively rare in Ohio, its traffic fatalities are at an all-time high.
Car theft in Ohio is rare, occurring at annual rates of only 172 per 100,000 inhabitants (43 percent less than the national average). But for Buckeye State cities like Columbus, Springfield, and Cleveland, rates are much higher than the state average. This is no surprise, as car theft is usually more common in cities than in rural and suburban areas.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
While Ohio has relatively low rates of car theft, it has higher traffic fatality rates than average – 39 percent higher than the rest of the U.S., to be exact. The state is sixth in the nation for traffic fatality rates, with 1,153 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled as of 20199.
From 2020 to 2021 alone, Ohio’s traffic deaths increased by 11 percent, despite pandemic stay-at-home orders meaning less driving. In 1 in 5 fatalities, the passenger was not wearing their seat belt. Many of the fatalities involved speeding as well10.
If you need more information on car insurance in the Buckeye State, read our frequently asked questions below. If not, it’s time to start driving!
We’ve answered the questions about car insurance in Ohio that we get the most here.
These are the three requirements for Ohio car insurance:
Basic car insurance in Ohio ranges from $216 to $481 a year, if by “basic” you mean minimum coverage. Minimum coverage only includes liability coverage. The average annual rate of liability coverage in 2020 was $433 in Ohio, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
These insurance companies sell the cheapest policies in Ohio:
No, Ohio is not a no-fault car insurance state. It is an at-fault state, so the person at fault in an accident is financially responsible for the other party’s bodily injuries and property damage costs.
Mandatory Insurance. Ohio BMV. https://www.bmv.ohio.gov/dl-mandatory-insurance.aspx
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. (2014). https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/140310_penaltiesfordrivingwithoutautoinsurance_cfa.pdf
Always Buckle Your Seatbelt. Ohio Department of Public Safety. https://publicsafety.ohio.gov/static/HSY7742.pdf
Buckle Up: Restraint Use in Ohio. CDC. (2014, Dec). https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/seatbelts/restraint_use_in_oh.pdf
End Distracted Driving. City of Dublin. (2021, Sept). https://dublinohiousa.gov/distracted-driving/
Ohio’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for Auto Insurance. Ohio Department of Insurance. https://insurance.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/613f16e0-600e-47ed-8059-9ec2635865e5/min_coverage_requirements_auto_2021.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-613f16e0-600e-47ed-8059-9ec2635865e5-ntUhOaI
E-Check. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. https://epa.ohio.gov/divisions-and-offices/air-pollution-control/e-check/e-check/
Driving & Transportation FAQs. Recovery Ohio. https://recoveryohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/ohio+content+english/site/help-center/faqs/driving-and-transportation/driving-and-transportation
Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. (2021, Mar). https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state
Ohio traffic crash fatalities highest in nearly 20 years. Dayton Daily News. (2022, Jan). https://www.daytondailynews.com/local/ohio-traffic-crash-fatalities-highest-in-nearly-20-years/XLEEJJDVTVGAFAZIGH3IWBWN3I/