Ohio Car Insurance Requirements

The basics of Ohio's "financial responsibility" rules when it comes to car accidents, and much more.

By , J.D.
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  • Ohio drivers are required to demonstrate their financial responsibility for any car accident they might cause, and most do this by buying car insurance. Here's what to know right off the bat:

    • Ohio drivers aren't technically required to carry car insurance on their vehicles, but if you choose this method of compliance with the state's financial responsibility rules, you must carry certain minimum amounts of coverage.
    • If you're caught driving without car insurance and out of compliance with Ohio's financial responsibility laws, you could face a variety of penalties, plus significant financial exposure if you end up causing a car accident.

    Ohio Is a "Fault" Car Accident State

    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).

    How Can I Get Compensation After a Car Accident In Ohio?

    When you've suffered any kind of injury or vehicle damage after a car accident in Ohio, you could have a few options for getting compensation for your losses, including:

    • filing a claim with your own car insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident, if you have personal injury protection/medical payments coverage (for injuries) or collision coverage (for vehicle damage); in this situation, if the other driver is at fault, your insurance company will likely turn around and pursue a subrogation claim against that driver's insurance company
    • filing a third-party claim directly with the other driver's insurance carrier (if the other driver is clearly at fault) and negotiating a car insurance settlement, or
    • filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver; note that the other driver's liability car insurance will still be in play in a lawsuit, and the case could reach a settlement at any point before trial.

    Note: In no-fault car insurance states, claimants don't have this same range of options. Ohio drivers don't need to worry about no-fault when it comes to in-state accidents. But 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's Financial Responsibility Laws and Liability Car Insurance

    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:

    • $25,000 for the injury or death of one person (a passenger, another driver, pedestrian, etc.) in an accident you cause
    • $50,000 total for all injuries or deaths resulting from a single accident you cause, and
    • $25,000 for any property damage arising out of a single accident you cause.

    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.

    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.

    What Options Do I Have Besides Buying Car Insurance In Ohio?

    According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, drivers in the state can choose one of the following alternatives to buying auto insurance, when it comes to complying with the financial responsibility rules:

    • getting a Bureau of Motor Vehicles certificate showing that $30,000 (in cash or government bonds) is on deposit with the state treasurer
    • getting a $30,000 certificate of bond issued from the BMV, signed by two individuals who own real estate with equity of at least $60,000
    • getting a $30,000 bond from an authorized surety or insurance company, or
    • for owners of more than 25 vehicles, getting a certificate of self-insurance issued by the BMV.

    Can I Show Digital Proof of Car Insurance In Ohio?

    Yes. You can carry your company-issued insurance card in your vehicle, in case you are asked to present it to an Ohio law enforcement officer during a traffic stop, or you can pull up a digital version of the card (or similar official digital documentation of your policy) on your phone or other device.

    Penalties 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.

    Getting Help After an Ohio Car Accident

    If you've been involved in a car accident in Ohio, you might be looking for more than just basic information on the car insurance rules in the state. Especially if you've been seriously injured in a crash, it might make sense to discussion your situation, and your options, with an experienced legal professional.

    Get more details on when you might need a car accident lawyer, and what to expect from your first meeting with a car accident attorney. If you're ready to connect with an Ohio car accident attorney now, you can use the features right on this page to find one in your area.

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