We have all the information you need to understand auto insurance in Ohio. Keep reading to learn about required coverage, penalties for driving uninsured, important coverage decisions, the claims process, proof of coverage, and more.
Ohio is a “tort” state where all drivers are required to have insurance. You’ll have to prove that you have coverage during:
Ohio law has certain standards for car insurance policies. Every policy must include a minimum amount of liability coverage. The following table breaks down the requirements.
|Required coverage types||Minimum amount of coverage|
|Bodily injury liability||$25,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident
$50,000 total for all injuries in an accident
|Property damage liability||$25,000 total per accident|
When someone driving your car causes an accident, it pays for victims’ medical and repair bills. However, it only pays up to a certain amount. Minimum policies include $50,000 worth of coverage for medical bills and $25,000 for property damages. If you get the minimum amount of liability insurance, you may see it referred to as 25/50/25 coverage.
You may want to buy more than the minimums to be better protected. Regulators warn that if you cause a serious accident that goes well above your liability limits, you and your family “could end up paying for one accident for the rest of your life!”
Remember, liability doesn’t cover the driver’s medical bills or car repairs. It only covers those costs for victims of an accident. For other forms of protection, read the “optional coverages” section.
Ohio increased its minimum limits in December 2013, from 12.5/25/7.5 to the current 25/50/25 limits.
If you break the law and don’t buy coverage, it could cost you. You could get stuck having to pay other people’s medical and repair bills if someone crashes your car. You could also get your licensed suspended and have to pay a fine.
|No. of offenses||Fine||License suspension|
|1st||$50||90 days + $100 reinstatement fee|
|2nd||$50||1 year + $300 reinstatement fee|
|3rd & subsequent||$50||2 years + $600 reinstatement fee|
Your policy can be picked as part of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Random Selection Program. If you’re chosen at random, officials will send you a notice asking you to provide proof of your policy. Those who don’t respond to the notice with proof could have their registration and driving privileges suspended.
In addition to liability coverage, there are optional coverages you can add. They’ll raise the cost of your insurance, but they’ll also provide greater protection. The following are the most widely available coverage add-ons in the state.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision. Some examples of this type of damage are vandalism, hail damage, and theft. In 2011, more than 4 out of every 5 drivers in Ohio bought this coverage, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured vehicle after an accident. In 2011, 3 out of every 4 drivers in Ohio bought this coverage, according to data from the NAIC.
It pays your medical bills and the medical bills of your family and passengers after an accident. It does so when the driver who caused the accident either:
Stacking: Ohio law allows drivers to increase their uninsured motorist coverage through stacking. Stacking provides extra protection, but it may also increase your premium.
You may be able to stack coverage if you have multiple cars on your policy or are insured through multiple policies. Stacking basically lets you combine the coverage from all those cars or policies when you file a large claim.
Stacking options differ from insurer to insurer. So check with your agent or company to find out your options.
Uninsured motorist (UM) property damage
It pays for repairing your car after an accident caused by a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or fled the scene of the accident.
It pays your medical and funeral bills from an accident. It also does so for your family members and passengers. It provides coverage no matter who caused the accident.
It pays the difference between an insurance company’s payment for a totaled car and the remaining balance on the car’s loan or lease.
Statewide, about 16% of drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council. That’s slightly above the nationwide average.
If someone crashes into you, you have a 1-in-6 chance that he or she doesn’t have insurance. That means they won’t be able to pay for your damages from an accident.
If someone who injures you in an accident doesn’t have insurance, you may need to rely on your own policy. But not all people have the coverage they need. The minimum coverage required by the state doesn’t include protection for these situations.
The following optional coverages will pay for medical bills for you, your family, and any passengers if they are injured by an uninsured driver:
The following optional coverages will pay for repairing your car if it’s damaged by an uninsured driver:
If you don’t have any of the coverages listed here, you might not be able to get your medical bills and/or property damages covered in this situation.
Rates for car insurance in the Buckeye State are much cheaper than average. The average cost of an Ohio auto insurance policy was 23.5% lower than the 2011 national average, according to data from the NAIC. That makes it the state with the 7th-cheapest average costs nationwide.
Ohio’s average premiums are pretty low compared with the rest of the country. But in two Ohio cities, insurance costs are exceptionally cheap. According to a Runzheimer International study, the cities of Wapakoneta and Fairfield have some of the cheapest premiums in the country.
Wapakoneta, a small town of 6 square miles with a little more than 9,800 people, had the 3rd-cheapest premiums of any city in the country.
Fairfield, a mid-sized city of 42,600 people, had the 7th-cheapest premiums of any city in the country.
If you drive safely, infrequently, or both, you may want to look into a usage-based discount program. These programs use a device you install in your car to track how far it’s driven and/or if it’s driven safely. Depending on how you drive, you could potentially get a discount of up to 30%.
The following major insurers offer usage-based discounts in the Buckeye State:
State law rewards older drivers who maintain their driving skills. Ohio auto insurers must give a discount to drivers between 60 and 70 years old if they complete an accident prevention course.
The size of the discount depends on your insurer. Estimates put the discount at between 2% and 15%. The discount only applies to liability coverage.
The discount lasts for 3 years. After that, you’ll have to complete a driving class and exam. Then you’ll get the discount again.
Ohio uses a “tort” system for car insurance claims. That means if someone injures you or wrecks your car, their liability insurance pays your medical and repair bills.
But in some cases, the other driver won’t be 100% responsible for the accident. Your actions could have contributed to the accident, and you could be partially responsible. This makes things a little more complicated.
If you’re partially responsible, it reduces the amount you can get from the other driver’s insurer. Ohio uses “modified comparative fault” (also called “comparative negligence”) to sort this out. Here are the details:
If you’re more than 50% responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay any of your bills. You have to completely rely on your own policy.
If you’re 50% or less responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer will pay your bills. But the amount they pay will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 20% responsible for an accident, the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay 100% of your bills. Instead, it pays only 80%, since you were 20% responsible. So in this example, if you have $10,000 in bills from an accident, the other driver’s insurer has to pay only $8,000.
So what if the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay your bills? You use your own policy. Medical payments will help pay your medical bills. Collision will help pay your repair bills. But both of those coverages are optional. You’ll be on your own if you didn’t add them to your policy.
Before you buy a car insurance policy, you may want to research the insurer’s history with state regulators. Ohio officials post information about their “exams” into car insurers. These market conduct exams can detail for you any violations that an insurer has had. That’s handy info for a consumer.
Also, Ohio regulatory officials can review disputes over settlement amounts.File a complaint with the Ohio Department of Insurance to get a case reviewed.
If you’ve had a hard time finding a car insurer who will cover you (usually because of marks on your driving record), you can still turn to the Ohio Automobile Insurance Plan. The Plan is the car insurer of last resort for the state’s high-risk drivers.
The Ohio cities of Wapakoneta and Fairfield had some of the cheapest car insurance rates in the country, according to a 2012 study by Runzheimer International. Also, the most recent data from the NAIC shows Ohio as a whole had the 7th-cheapest average car insurance costs in the country in 2011.