Ohio Car Insurance Guide

Ohio car insurance laws

All drivers need auto insurance to drive legally in Ohio, but how much do you need? Whether you're a longtime Ohio resident or new to the state, this car insurance guide covers what you need to know about driving legally in the Buckeye State, including Ohio car insurance laws, minimum liability insurance requirements, the penalties for driving without insurance, and more.

Personal Auto Insurance

Every state requires drivers to maintain financial responsibility on all registered vehicles. A personal auto insurance policy is the most common way to secure financial responsibility. Auto insurance is a contract between you and your auto insurance company in which you agree to pay the premium amount, and your insurer agrees to pay for your losses, subject to the terms and conditions of your policy.

Most Ohio drivers are required to carry two types of liability coverage at minimum: bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

Ohio Car Insurance Laws

Although state law requires drivers to have financial responsibility, an estimated 15% of Ohio drivers are uninsured, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. When you get an Ohio driver's license, you must sign stating that you have auto insurance, but you are not required to show proof of insurance at this time. You are, however, expected to be able to present proof of insurance during a traffic stop, vehicle inspection, at an accident scene, or in traffic court.

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) used to perform random insurance checks until a new law went into effect that eliminated the practice. Before House Bill 62 passed, the BMV would randomly select 5,400 registered vehicles each week and require owners to provide proof of insurance by a set date. If a vehicle owner failed to verify proof in time, they faced license suspension. The law takes away the BMV's ability to randomly perform these checks.

In other words, the Ohio BMV does not actively monitor uninsured vehicles, making it all the more important to protect yourself with an adequate auto insurance policy.

Insurance Proof Must Be Carried

Ohio law requires that all drivers carry insurance or other proof of financial responsibility to legally operate any motor vehicle. Drivers must carry minimum auto insurance coverage limits of 25/50/25. (See more under Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Ohio.)

Additionally, drivers must carry proof of insurance at all times and must be able to present proof of insurance upon request, such as during a traffic stop, at an accident scene, etc.

Driving with less coverage than the state's minimum amount or without insurance altogether is against the law and can result in serious consequences, including fines and license suspensions.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Ohio

Having enough auto insurance isn't just a smart idea – it's Ohio law. The minimum auto insurance requirements in Ohio are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage for injury or death per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability coverage for damage to the property of others caused in an auto accident

For the 15% of Ohioans who are uninsured, the Ohio Department of Insurance estimates that even more drivers are underinsured, meaning they have enough insurance to stay legal, but not enough to pay for serious injuries and damages.

Remember: these are the minimum requirements for car insurance in Ohio. Although insuring your personal vehicle with the minimum amount of insurance required by state law is usually the cheapest option, it doesn’t mean you're fully protected in the event of an auto accident. You could be involved in an accident that costs more than your policy can pay. Many drivers bolster their insurance protection by opting for higher limits and optional coverages.

For example, there is no mandate on uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) in Ohio. These coverages can protect you if you’re involved in a hit-and-run or an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your claims. Without this coverage, you could very well be on your own to pay your damages. (Read more about UM below.)

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Ohio

Driving without insurance is a big risk, and in Ohio, you face some pretty serious penalties. Failure to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident usually results in a non-compliance suspension. The suspension can be removed if you can show the BMV you have valid coverage at the time of the incident. Penalties are as follows:

First Offense:

  • If you do not provide the BMV with proof of insurance, the non-compliance suspension will remain in place until you:
  • Have your insurer file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility with the Ohio BMV, and maintain the SR-22 for three years
  • Pay a $100 reinstatement fee

Second Offense:

A second non-compliance offense within five years of the first offense will result in a one-year suspension, which will only be lifted if the following requirements are met:

  • Serve one-year suspension
  • Maintain an SR-22 for five years
  • Pay a $300 reinstatement fee

Third Offense:

Receiving a third non-compliance offense in five years will lead to a two-year suspension. You must meet the following requirements to reinstate your driving privileges:

  • Serve two-year suspension
  • Maintain an SR-22 for five years
  • Pay a $600 reinstatement fee

Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License in Ohio

Driving with a suspended license is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, punishable by up to a one-year license suspension. You may be required to complete a remedial driving course to reinstate your license, in addition to serving the suspension. Receiving a subsequent offense within three years could result in vehicle impoundment.

Car Insurance Coverages Required in Ohio

Ohio drivers are required to have two types of insurance, at minimum: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. However, it's common for drivers to increase their coverage limits and add optional coverages to their policies for greater protection. Here are some of the terms you can expect to see while you're shopping for insurance.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

This coverage offers financial protection if you injure another person while driving your vehicle, based on the terms and conditions of your policy. Bodily injury liability coverage (BIL) can pay for the other person's medical expenses and your legal fees, if necessary.

Ohio car insurance laws mandate minimum BIL limits of $25,000 for injury or death to any one person in an accident and a minimum of $50,000 for injuries or death to any two or more persons in an accident.

Property Damage Liability Coverage

If you damage another person's property while driving your vehicle, property damage liability coverage (PDL) can help repair or replace it. PDL can pay for damage you caused to other vehicles, fences, poles, and mailboxes. Ohio drivers must carry a minimum PDL limit of $25,000 per accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

What would happen if you got hit by an uninsured driver? Without the right coverage, you could be solely responsible to pay for your medical expenses, car repairs, and other damages out of your own pocket – damages that aren't even your fault. Uninsured/underinsured motorist liability coverage (UM/UIM) offers financial protection if you're in a hit-and-run or an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

When you purchase liability insurance, the agent or insurance company usually offers UM/UIM coverage at the same limits as your liability coverage. However, these coverages are optional in Ohio, and you are allowed to refuse them in writing. Rejecting these coverages could save you money on your premium, but it also puts you at higher financial risk if you're ever in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Ohio SR-22 Insurance

Drivers who have broken Ohio insurance laws or been convicted of a DUI/DWI or committed serious driving violations are typically required to file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility with the Ohio BMV.

This requirement is often called "SR-22 insurance," but it's not insurance – it's a record your auto insurance company files on your behalf with the state that verifies you have insurance coverage that meets Ohio's minimum liability auto insurance requirements.

Nonstandard Auto Insurance in Ohio

Drivers with a history of traffic citations, accidents, or DUI/DWI convictions may be considered "high risk" by some auto insurers who will refuse to accept their business. Other carriers offer high-risk auto insurance, also called non-standard auto insurance that helps protect these drivers although the coverage may be more restrictive than a standard policy and come at a higher cost.

Shop for Affordable Car Insurance in Ohio

How much should you pay for car insurance? Your premium amount is based on several factors, including:

  • Your vehicle year, make, and model
  • Your age
  • Your driving record
  • Your ZIP Code
  • How often you drive
  • The coverages you select

At Direct Auto, we offer affordable auto insurance rates, plus customizable payment options that put YOU in the driver's seat. Choose your down payment amount, your monthly amount, and your payment due date. We also offer car insurance discounts that can make your premium even more affordable:*

  • Accident-free discount
  • Multi-car discount
  • Safe driver discount
  • Paperless billing discount
  • Welcome back discount
  • New vehicle discount (vehicle of current model year or newer)
  • DynamicDrive telematics discount
  • Advance quote discount

Ohio Commercial Auto Insurance Policies

All business-owned vehicles must be covered by a commercial auto insurance policy that complies with Ohio's minimum financial responsibility requirements. Commercial auto insurance can help protect drivers who use a car or truck to perform duties related to their occupation or business besides commuting.

Minimum Commercial Auto Insurance Requirements

The minimum commercial auto insurance requirements are the same as the requirements for personal vehicles: 25/50/25.

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage for injury or death per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage for injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability coverage for damage to the property of others caused in an auto accident

The exact liability requirements for a commercial vehicle are unique to your business and needs. For instance, a company car can usually be covered by the same limits as a personal vehicle, while a larger commercial vehicle tends to warrant higher liability limits. Several factors affect commercial insurance requirements, such as:

  • Vehicle size, type, and weight
  • How the vehicle is used
  • Whether the vehicle transports passengers
  • Whether the vehicle carries hazardous materials
  • Whether the vehicle is a for-hire taxi

Commercial Auto Insurance Coverage Options

In addition to the standard bodily injury and property damage liability coverages that help you comply with Ohio car insurance laws, there are several types of commercial auto coverages that can protect you, your employees, and your business:

  • Hired auto and employer's non-ownership liability coverage
  • Fire and theft with combined additional coverage
  • Loss of use coverage
  • Towing and labor reimbursement coverage

Direct Auto offers commercial auto insurance policies for up to 20 vehicles, as well as flexible payment options, discounts, and policy terms of 6 and 12 months.** Learn more about commercial auto insurance here, or get a free, no-obligation quote by calling  1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or visiting a Direct location near you.

Ohio Motorcycle Insurance Laws

Ohio law requires all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, to be covered by insurance that adheres to the state's minimum limits. The minimum limits for motorcycle insurance in Ohio are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injury or death per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage to cover injury or death to any two or more persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability coverage to pay for damage to the property of others caused in an auto accident

Your insurer might offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which can protect you if you're in a hit-and-run or an accident caused by an uninsured driver. UM is not a mandatory coverage in Ohio, and you are allowed to reject it in writing. However, in doing so, you assume more financial risk if you were to be in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

As a motorcyclist, it's also important for you to understand how a motorcycle insurance policy protects your passengers. Not all motorcycle policies in all states cover passengers. Do not assume that your passengers are covered under your motorcycle liability insurance because most policies exclude passengers by default.

To make sure you are always protected, Direct Auto includes motorcycle guest passenger liability coverage (GPL) in the purchase of the bodily injury liability coverage, which means you always have protection for your passengers if you're found at-fault in an auto accident.

Additional Motorcycle Coverage Options

In addition to the standard bodily injury and property damage liability coverages that help you comply with Ohio insurance laws, there are several types of optional motorcycle coverages that can protect you:

  • Medical payments
  • Accidental death and dismemberment
  • Towing and trip interruption
  • Personal effects, custom parts, safety apparel
  • Replacement cost and OEM parts replacement

Remember always to follow safety precautions when riding a motorcycle, including wearing proper safety gear and practicing safe driving techniques. Check out our motorcycle safety tips for more.

Get More Information

Ready for a free, no-obligation quote on auto insurance? Want to learn more about the coverages required to comply with Ohio auto insurance laws? Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or visit an Ohio Direct location near you.



*Rates and savings vary. Pay plans and discounts subject to terms and conditions. ** Commercial and motorcycle insurance are produced by Direct Auto Insurance agents for related and unrelated carriers. Availability, qualifications, rates, terms and conditions vary by state.

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