Having car insurance not only can help mitigate your expenses if you get into an accident, it also can keep you out of trouble with the state. Ohio residents are required to have injury and property damage coverage. While you can get by with the minimum coverage, increasing your protection could pay off later. Learn more about car insurance in the Buckeye State and what happens if you drive without an active policy.

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Car insurance laws in Ohio

Ohio car insurance laws are fairly standard. But whether you are a current Ohio driver, or are preparing to move to the state, understanding the auto insurance laws and minimum coverage requirements  is beneficial. Here are the notable Ohio insurance laws:

  • Driving without insurance is illegal. Driving without insurance is illegal in the state of Ohio and getting caught doing so can lead to some heavy consequences.
  • Drivers must carry minimum coverage insurance. All drivers in Ohio must meet the state’s minimum insurance requirement, which is 25/50/25. Driving with less coverage than the state minimum amount is illegal and can result in license suspension.
  • It is illegal to lend your car to someone who is uninsured. In Ohio, you cannot let a friend or family member borrow your vehicle if they are uninsured. Every driver must have some type of insurance or proof of financial responsibility in order to operate a vehicle, even if they do not own a car themselves.
  • Drivers must carry proof of insurance at all times. Drivers in Ohio are legally required to produce proof of insurance whenever requested, meaning that they must always have that proof in their vehicle. Drivers are required to show proof of insurance when requested by law enforcement during a traffic stop, at the scene of an accident and in traffic court.

Liability insurance requirements in Ohio

Ohio state law requires drivers to maintain liability insurance in order to drive in the state. Ohio auto insurance requirements are referred to as the 25/50/25 rule. This means that drivers are required to maintain the following levels of coverage:

These are the minimum levels of coverage required to be able to drive legally in Ohio. However, you may want to consider that the minimum levels of coverage are unlikely to cover the full cost of damage if you are involved in a serious accident.

For example, if you are involved in an accident in which multiple injuries occur, you could quickly see the cost exceed the minimum levels of coverage for bodily injury liability coverage, which would leave you paying out of pocket for the remainder. Minimum insurance also does not cover any damage to a vehicle, meaning you would have to pay for those repairs without any insurance payout.

Is Ohio a no-fault state?

No, Ohio is not a no-fault state. Ohio is considered to be a fault state, also called a tort state. While no-fault states mean that a driver’s insurance company pays their costs and expenses regardless of who caused the accident, a fault state (like Ohio) means that the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays those costs for everyone involved.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio

The penalties for driving without minimum car insurance in Ohio are serious. Any driver that is caught not complying with Ohio insurance laws will automatically have their license suspended. Here are the consequences of driving without insurance in Ohio:

  • First offense: The driver’s license will be suspended until they can show proof of insurance. The driver must pay a $40 reinstatement fee to get their license back.
  • Second offense: The driver’s license will be suspended for one year and they must pay a $300 reinstatement fee to get their license back.
  • Third offense and beyond: The driver’s license will be suspended for two years and they must pay a $600 reinstatement fee to get their license back.

Drivers who fail to surrender their driver’s license are charged a $50 fee. Additionally, all drivers who are caught driving without insurance are required to purchase an SR-22 certificate to demonstrate proof that they have proper insurance going forward, and which will typically be required for three to five years, depending on the offense.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Ohio

While Ohio has minimum auto insurance requirements for drivers in the state, drivers can opt to purchase more coverage in order to better protect themselves in case of a serious accident. There are a variety of additional auto insurance coverage options in Ohio, including the following:

  • Collision insurance: Collision insurance pays to repair vehicle damage after a covered accident. This policy also covers accidents with stationary objects.
  • Comprehensive insurance: Comprehensive insurance pays to repair vehicle damage stemming from non-accident situations, like falling objects, fire or theft.
  • Gap insurance: Gap insurance may be a beneficial coverage for drivers who lease or finance a new vehicle. If your car is totaled after a covered accident, gap insurance will pay out the difference between the car’s value and the balance remaining on your loan.
  • Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance is a popular add-on coverage that provides basic car repairs, towing, extrication, fuel delivery, lockout services, battery replacement and more. This coverage is available from most insurance companies.

Frequently asked questions

    • The best car insurance company in Ohio will depend on factors like how much coverage you need, how much you’re willing to spend, and what your driving record looks like. If you are a high-risk driver with a DUI or other mark on your driving record, it’s possible that the best insurance provider for you may not be the carrier that offers the best average rates across all drivers. You should also consider available discounts when searching for the best car insurance company in the Buckeye State. Young students are often considered riskier, but could also get a discount for having good grades.
    • The cheapest car insurance provider in Ohio will depend on a number of factors, including the level of coverage you need. Ohio allows coverage providers to consider age, gender, driving history, car make and model, and other factors when determining your premium. However, insurance providers are prohibited from using credit history as a primary consideration.

      Bankrate analysis found that State Farm provides the cheapest car insurance for minimum coverage in Ohio, while Hastings Mutual provides the cheapest premiums for full coverage on average.

    • The average cost of car insurance in Ohio is $1,498 per year for full coverage and $399 per year for minimum coverage. Ohio drivers pay some of the cheapest car insurance premiums throughout the country, on average. For comparison, the national average cost of a full coverage policy is $2,542 per year, and $740 per year for minimum coverage.