In Ohio, it is illegal to drive a state registered vehicle without proper insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Ohio minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Auto insurance policy with limits of at least 12.5/25/7.5 – meaning:
- Liability coverage
- $12,500 of bodily injury to another person.
- $25,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons
- $7,500 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
Please note, these are the minimum requirements and would likely not cover all costs associated with an accident. So while additional liability coverage is not required, it is recommended. Drivers can also purchase collision, comprehensive, MedPay, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Alternative Options to Insurance:
Ohio drivers also have to option to get a bond or self-insurance certificate as proof of financial responsibility. The state allows the following alternatives to traditional insurance:
- Certificate issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles indicating that a $30,000 bond or cash deposit has been placed with the Ohio Treasurer as per ORC 4509.62.
- Certificate of $30,000 bond issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles signed by two individuals who own real estate or property with equity of at least $60,000 as per ORC 4509.59.
- For those with more than 25 motor vehicles registered in their or a company’s name who can demonstrate necessary financial resources for efficient management of any claims, a certificate of self-insurance issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as per ORC 4509.72.
The aforementioned options require proper application and approval. Applications can be submitted to:
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 16520
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6520
Required Proof of Insurance in Ohio
- Insurance card provided by insurance company including all of the following:
- Name of insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Effective date/expiration date of policy
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of insured driver
- Certificate of deposit or bond
- Certificate number issued by State Treasurer
- Name of driver covered by certificate of deposit or bond
Self-insurance certificates are issued by the state and must include the following:
- Certificate number issued by Department of Licensing
- Effective date of certificate
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by certificate
The Ohio Department of Insurance
50 W. Town Street
Third Floor – Suite 300
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Obtaining a Driver’s License
Temporary Instruction Permit
Residents at least 15 years and 6 months old can obtain a temporary instruction permit after meeting the following requirements:
- Proof of identification from acceptable documents list.
- Completion of vision exam.
- Completion of a driver knowledge test to verify understanding of driving laws and traffic signs.
After successful completion of the vision and knowledge exams, applicants can bring their confirmation receipt to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to receive a temporary instruction permit identification card. A $22.00 fee will be charged for the issuance of this permit. In addition, all applicants under the age of 18 must have the signature of a parent or guardian.
A temporary instruction permit is valid for up to one year and allows residents to legally practice driving. If under 16, drivers must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or certified driving instructor while behind the wheel. Those over 16 can practice with a licensed driver 21 or older occupying the seat next to them. However, drivers with a temporary instruction permit are not allowed to drive between midnight and 6:00 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian with a valid driver’s license.
Once residents receive their temporary instruction permit, they can enroll in a driver’s education program to prepare to pass the skills test and receive their license. Applicants under 18 must have had their permit for at least 6 months prior to submitting to the skills test and show proof of having completed a driver’s education course. A driver’s education course will include:
- 24 hours of classroom instruction.
- 8 hours of driving with a certified instructor.
- 50 hours of driving with a parent, guardian, or approved driver. At least 10 of these hours are required to be driving at night. A parent or guardian must submit a notarized affidavit verifying this driving experience.
A list of approved driving schools can be found at the Ohio Driver Training website. Some secondary schools also offer driver training programs. These programs meet the state requirements and have certified instructors.
In order to receive a driver’s license, Ohio residents must pass a road test demonstrating their driving and maneuverability skills. Those submitting to the skills test must meet the following requirements:
- If under 18, must have permit for at least 6 months before submitting to the skills test.
- If under 18, must have a certificate of completion from a driver’s education program along with notarized affidavit signed by a parent or guardian verifying 50 hours of driving experience, including 10 hours of night driving.
- No traffic violations within 6 months of applying for license.
- No conviction of alcohol/drug offense while holding permit.
- If under 18, must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Applicants must schedule an appointment with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. In addition, applicants are required to provide the vehicle for the skills test themselves and submit it for an equipment inspection prior to the test.
If a driver successfully completes the road test, they will receive a receipt which they can use to apply for their license. Fees for the issuance of a license range from $19.25 to $23.00 depending on the age of the applicant. This fee must be paid to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles by cash, check, or money order. Drivers under 18 must have a parent or guardian’s signature to receive their license.
Applicants over the age of 18 are also required to pass the knowledge test, eyesight exam, and skills test, but do not have to complete a driver’s education course or have a parent’s signature.
Knowing the Rules of the Road
Ohio uses a point system to monitor traffic violations. For every offense a certain number of points are added to an individual’s driving record depending on the severity of the violation. For example, running a stop sign is two points, reckless driving is four points, and fleeing the scene of an accident is six points. If an individual accumulates six points within any two-year period, they will receive a warning letter. At twelve points, their license will be suspended for six months. Keep in mind that accumulating too many points can also prevent you from getting the best car insurance rates in Ohio.
Ohio’s driving laws are accessible online. Adhering to these rules and regulations will qualify drivers for the best insurance rates and ensure they do not lose their driving privileges. Some important rules of the road include:
- Alcoholic beverages: ORC 4301.64
- Child passenger restraints and penalties: ORC 4511.81
- Driving without proper license: 4510.12
- Dropping load and other materials on highway: ORC 4511.74
- DUI – Impaired Driving: ORC 4511.19
- Failure to yield the right of way: ORC 4511.41-42
- Following too close: ORC 4511.34
- Illegal U-Turn: ORC 4511.37
- Improper Passing: ORC 4511.28
- Motorcycles – Operating on roadways: ORC 4511.55
- Motorcycles – Riding on motorcycles: ORC 4511.53
- Passing a stopped school bus: ORC 4511.75
- Reckless driving: ORC 4511.20
- Refusal to cooperate with officers – Penalty: ORC 2921.331
- Roadway construction zones: ORC 4511.98
- Seat belt requirements and penalties: ORC 4513.263
- Slow Speed: ORC 4511.22
- Speeding and maximum speed limits: ORC 4511.21
- Trailers – Riding in trailers or towed vehicles: ORC 4511.701
- Unattended motor vehicle: ORC 4511.661
Residents of Ohio typically fall into the preferred, standard, or non-standard market when it comes to insurance coverage. Low-risk drivers with excellent driving records fall into the preferred market, qualifying them for the lowest auto insurance rates in Ohio. Those with fair driving records typically fall within the standard market and qualify for mid-level rates, which are still some of the best auto insurance rates in Ohio. Drivers with less experience, multiple tickets or accidents, or at least one alcohol related offense are assigned to the non-standard market and pay the highest premiums when compared to the average cost of car insurance in Ohio. Individuals who do not qualify for insurance through even a non- standard provider because of underwriting issues or a poor driving record may be eligible to receive coverage under the Ohio Automobile Insurance Plan, also known as the assigned risk plan.
Know Your Rates
When calculating rates, insurance companies carefully consider all of the licensed drivers in a household, such as teen drivers, permanent roommates, and spouses. The base rate that is used to evaluate all drivers is then adjusted, according to several factors, including:
- Age. Statistics show that young drivers under the age of 25 are the most likely to be involved in accidents. This increased risk translates into higher insurance premiums for households with young drivers. Additionally, drivers over 65 may see higher rates due to the fact that reduced reaction time contributes to a higher incidence of accidents in this age group.
- Gender. Young men typically have the highest premiums. This is due to statistical evidence that shows men under 25 are involved in more accidents than women in the same age group. For this reason, female drivers typically enjoy more low cost car insurance in Ohio.
- Driving record and claims history. Drivers with multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, are automatically considered higher risk. For this reason, those with poor driving records will see higher insurance rates. Most insurance companies will look at the last 3 years of driving history, others will consider the last 5 years.
- Marital status. Married couples will typically be offered lower rates. This is due to the fact that married couples tend to have far fewer accidents than unmarried individuals.
- Geographical area. Rates are also influenced by the area where an individual lives and the driving habits of others in that area. Those living in high crime neighborhoods or cities, heavily populated areas, or places with a higher incidence of traffic accidents are likely to see higher rates. All these factors increase the likelihood of damage to or loss of a vehicle.
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle. More expensive and more high-performance cars are costly to insure. This is due to the higher cost of repairs and the increased likelihood of the vehicle being stolen.
- Credit history. Statistical analyses have shown a correlation between an individual’s credit scores and insurance loss. This means that a driver’s history of bill payment, borrowing, and debt levels can influence the type of premium they pay. The better your credit score, the better your chances will be of qualifying for cheap liability car insurance in Ohio.
Lower Your Rates
The most important factor in ensuring you are getting the best rate is to compare auto insurance rates in Ohio by shopping around regularly. Understanding exactly what different types of insurance do and do not cover is also essential. You should feel free to speak with an insurance agent and find out exactly what your insurance plan will cover for the price you are paying so that you are getting the best price for the best coverage, as opposed to simply settling for the cheapest plan that may not offer much.
In addition, ask your agent about unadvertised discounts for teens with good grades, low mileage drivers, or individuals who have taken a defensive driving course. This will ensure that you receive the most affordable auto insurance in Ohio. Paying close attention to your other insurance plans is also diligent. Plans can overlap in coverage areas. For example, some health insurance plans may include personal injury protection if you or your passengers are injured in an accident.
If you have concerns about an insurance company or an agent, you can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 614- 644-2658 or toll-free at 800-686-1526. They can verify that the company or agent is permitted to do business in Ohio and research whether or not any disciplinary actions have been taken against them.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Your agent will be the first person you turn to when you have a claim or question about your policy. For this reason, choosing a good agent can save you a hassle down the road. An agent represents a specific insurance company and sells policies for that company only for a commission. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, are licensed to sell insurance for numerous companies and work with individual clients to find options that fit their needs. Like agents, they also receive a commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies. Both brokers and agents can help you better understand Ohio car insurance rates, as well as help you find the best deals.
You can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance in order to research an agent or broker. The insurance department can make sure that they are properly licensed and have a history free of complaints. If there have been complaints or prior disciplinary actions, they can give you details of when and how many times this occurred.
If you have unresolved problems with an insurance company, broker, or agent, you may file a complaint online. The insurance department will investigate the matter and get back to you if any formal disciplinary actions will take place.
After an Accident
If you have been involved in a collision, you must immediately notify local law enforcement, such as city police, highway patrol, or county sheriff. If you or someone else is injured, you may request emergency medical services at that time. Drivers should stay at the scene of the collision until released by an officer. If no one is seriously injured, the drivers can exchange contact and insurance information while waiting for law enforcement to arrive, even if one of you has no car insurance in Ohio. To expedite procedures, be prepared to give a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision to responding law enforcement members, and also take down information such as the names of the police officers and witnesses you spoke with for your own accident report.
You should then report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. You can call your insurance agent or your insurance company’s claim line and they will guide you through the process. You should be prepared to report the extent of the damage to both cars, how the accident happened, what occurred during the accident, and the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. In addition, a copy of the police report should be sent to your insurance company in a timely manner.
Ohio has a comparative negligence law which states than the fault and corresponding costs for an accident can be shared. This may determine how much you can collect from another driver or insurance company. If you are filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, they will ask questions such as:
- How fast where you going?
- Did you see the other vehicle before it came into your lane?
- If you had been wearing a seat belt would the extent of your injuries been as bad?
If there was anything you could have done to avoid the accident or lessen the damage, you may be assigned a portion of the fault. Based on this calculation, the insurance company will offer to pay a certain percentage of your damages. As long as the other driver’s negligence is more than 50%, you will not owe anything for his or her damages. However, if the blame is split 50/50, neither will collect anything from the other’s insurance company.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Some insurance companies specialize in covering high-risk drivers. These companies serve what is known as the non-standard market. However, drivers with an extensive history of accidents, tickets, or drunk driving may be unable to obtain coverage even through these companies. For these individuals, the Ohio Automobile Insurance Plan ensures they can obtain state mandated liability coverage. An insurance agent or broker can help with this application process. In order to qualify, applicants must:
- Have a valid driver’s license.
- Have a vehicle registered in Ohio within 15 days of the application, or be a member of the U.S. military.
- Show proof of an attempt to obtain automobile insurance in the state within 60 days prior to the application.
- No history of unpaid automobile insurance premiums.
Individuals considered high risk may be required to file a SR-22 form with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This is a financial responsibility bond paid in exchange for a minimum limit liability insurance policy. The driver’s insurance agent or broker will file this form, but typically only companies specializing in non-standard car insurance provide this type of service.
The Ohio Department of Insurance offers assistance to anyone shopping for insurance. They can provide information about what minimum insurance requirements are for the state and what additional coverage is available to consumers, look into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed. They can be contacted at 614-644-2658 or toll-free at 800-686-1526.
Online resources include:
- Ohio Department of Insurance – Sample Auto Insurance Premium Comparisons
- Ohio Department of Insurance – Young Driver’s Guide to Auto Insurance
- Ohio Department of Insurance – Complaint Center