Like most states, Ohio drivers must meet minimum auto insurance requirements to drive legally. The potential penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio can be severe, including fines, loss of driving privileges and even confiscation of the vehicle. Before you get behind the wheel in Ohio, find out how much car insurance the law requires and the penalties you could face if you do not comply.

Minimum insurance required in Ohio

Ohio law requires all drivers to carry minimum levels of liability car insurance coverage, including:

  • $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability
  • $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability
  • $25,000 per accident in property damage liability

Uninsured motorist coverage must be offered but can be declined in writing.

Bear in mind that the minimum amount of car insurance required in your state might not provide the levels of coverage you need. For example, many new automobiles cost between $40,000 and $50,000. If you are deemed at fault for an accident, your costs could easily exceed the minimum amount required by Ohio law, and you would be responsible for paying the difference out of pocket.

For reference, the average annual cost of car insurance for minimum coverage is $644 nationwide and $389 in Ohio. Full coverage averages $2,314 nationwide and $1,529 in Ohio. However, your rate will vary based on several factors.

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Penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio

There are two ways the state could determine that you are driving without insurance in Ohio. If a law enforcement officer pulls you over in a traffic stop, they will ask for proof of car insurance. Or, if you cancel your insurance coverage, your insurance company will report it to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

If you receive a ticket for not carrying insurance in Ohio, you could face multiple penalties, including:

First offense

If you are caught driving without car insurance, you will likely lose your driver’s license, license plates and vehicle registration until you obtain coverage. You will also be asked to pay a $40 reinstatement fee, and, if you fail to surrender your driver’s license, license plates or vehicle registration, you’ll be asked to pay an additional $50 fee.

Ohio will only restore your driving privileges once you pay all fees assessed by the court and provide proof of insurance. If the state finds that you have violated the license suspension, it will confiscate your license plates for 30 days.

Second offense

Drivers caught driving without insurance a second time face a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $300 reinstatement fee, in addition to surrendering their driver’s license, license plates and vehicle registration.

If you violate the license suspension, the state will confiscate your car and license plates for 60 days.

Third offense and beyond

After three or more offenses, Ohio law states that you must surrender your license for two years and pay a $600 reinstatement fee. The state can also seize your vehicle, sell it and bar you from registering another vehicle for five years.

The state also requires that motorists who were caught driving without insurance be labeled high risk for insurance purposes. Drivers are then required to purchase SR-22 insurance, which is a certificate filed with the DMV by the insurance company that acts as proof of insurance coverage. Ohio requires drivers to file an SR-22 for three to five years.

Getting into an accident without insurance in Ohio

If you drive in Ohio without insurance and get into an accident, you will likely receive a citation for driving without insurance and face the previously outlined penalties. If you caused the accident, you will also face additional financial consequences.

Ohio is a tort, or at-fault, state. At-fault drivers are financially responsible for any bodily injuries and property damage they cause, oftentimes amounting to a substantial amount of money. If you are unable to pay out of pocket, the other party can sue you, which could threaten your assets, such as your home or other investments.

Frequently asked questions

    • Since car insurance is highly personalized, the best car insurance is different for every driver. Your needs and priorities are unique, so the best company for you is one that aligns with your values. For instance, if you like to manage your own policy, you might look for a company that has robust digital tools or a highly-rated mobile app. The best car insurance company in Ohio for someone on a tight budget might be the company offering them the cheapest rates. Before you shop for car insurance, consider what you’re looking for in an insurer and request quotes from several companies. This allows you to compare coverage and cost.
    • The fee for getting caught in Ohio driving with no insurance will vary depending on whether or not you have previous violations. If it is your first offense, the fee will be $40 to reinstate your license. If you fail to surrender your license, plates or registration at the time of the offense, you may also need to pay an additional $50. A second offense engenders a $300 reinstatement file, while three or more offenses require you to pay a $600 reinstatement fee. You may have other penalties, too, including the confiscation of your car and license plates.
    • Ohio has strict insurance fraud laws. Under Ohio law, insurance fraud can include filing a false claim, filing a claim for automobile damages that the policyholder intentionally caused, inflating the value of a stolen vehicle or providing false information about one’s address, driving record or other application details. If you are caught, the state can levy serious charges, ranging from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, depending on the dollar amount of the alleged fraud.
    • Based on data sourced by Bankrate from Quadrant Information Services, the average cost of car insurance in Ohio is $398 for state-mandated minimum coverage, while full coverage, including collision and comprehensive insurance, costs an average of $1,529 per year. This is considerably lower than the national averages for car insurance, which are $644 for minimum coverage and $2,314 for full coverage. Note that you are unlikely to pay exactly the same amount as the averages. Your own rate is determined by a range of factors unique to you, such as your car’s age, make and model, your driving record and the types of coverage you choose (among other things).