Ohio is a "fault" car accident state, and drivers are required to demonstrate their financial responsibility for any crash they might cause. The vast majority of Ohio drivers do this by buying car insurance, and state law requires certain minimum amounts of coverage. We'll discuss those minimums in this article, plus a few other important Ohio car insurance rules.
Ohio follows a "fault" system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses stemming from a car accident. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is responsible for compensating anyone who suffered harm as a result of the crash (although from a practical standpoint it's typically the at-fault driver's insurance carrier that will cover these losses, up to policy limits).
In Ohio, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, claimants don't have this same range of options. If you're injured in a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to your own car insurance coverage for the payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Only if your claim reaches certain statutory thresholds can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. 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 across the state line, you may be playing by a different set of rules.
Ohio requires drivers to show financial responsibility for any potential car accident, by purchasing a bond, posting collateral, or buying liability car insurance.
If you choose to buy liability car insurance, as most Ohio drivers do, 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 resulting in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. 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.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
You'll need to carry your insurance I.D. card in your vehicle with you, in case you are asked to present it to an Ohio law enforcement officer during a traffic stop.
Finally, remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay coverage can be used to pay your car accident medical bills, and collision coverage can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
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 state, check out this Guide to Automobile Insurance from the Ohio Department of Insurance.