To drive in Ohio, you are required to carry auto insurance equal to or more than the amount stated by the Ohio Financial Responsibility Law and be responsible for the damage you cause. In fact, when you register or renew your vehicle registration and driver’s license, you will be asked to sign a sworn statement indicating you will never drive without valid insurance in the Buckeye State.
There are several occasions when you will be asked to present or provide proof of insurance – usually in the form of your insurance ID card or the declaration page of your policy (both paper or electronic are acceptable). The most common occasions are when you get pulled over on the road, or are involved in an accident that injured someone (including yourself), or caused more than $400 property damage. If you are picked by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) Random Selection Program, you will need to reply with a copy of your proof.
Ohio Required Car Insurance Coverage
|OH Required Min. Limits|
Bodily Injury (BI)
|$25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident|
Property Damage (PD)
|$25,000 per accident|
Ohio Car Insurance Minimum Requirements
A minimum Ohio auto insurance policy will include Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage, which are collectively referred to as liability insurance. Liability insurance covers the expenses you will be responsible for when you cause an accident, and get found to be at fault. All licensed car insurance companies in Ohio must provide these two coverage begining at the minimum limits, which are:
Bodily Injury (BI): up to $25,000 per person to as much as $50,000 for two or more persons injured in any single accident you caused. The BI liability coverage takes care of the expenses from injuries you cause to the other party. Examples include hospital visits and surgeries, as well as legal costs if they sue you for the accident. Depending on the amount of your total assets (which could indicate how “sue-able” you are), you may want to consider purchasing higher limits of BI. Most companies will offer up to 100/300 or even higher limits, depending on the company.
Property Damage (PD): up to $25,000 per accident. This coverage pays for any damage of property per accident that you are largely at-fault for. This could include dents or damage to the vehicle in a crash, or property if you lost control and ran into someone’s house. There are also higher PD limits you can purchase instead of the state minimum, up to as high as $100,000 in coverage.
Optional Car Insurance Coverage in Ohio
You will probably hear from your agent and government officials that the state-required minimum insurance is not enough to protect you and all of your assets. A more complete policy (agents may refer to it as a “full coverage”) will not only include liability coverage, but also coverages that protect your injuries and your own vehicle. Here are some commonly included types of coverage that you should be able to get from most OH insurers:
Physical Damage: when you need to pay for repairs to your car, having one of the two physical damage coverages can really help lighten the burden. Regardless of fault, for any damage that results from you running into someone or something, collision coverage protects you. On the other hand, other kinds of non-collision incidents will usually fall under comprehensive coverage. Note that with either of the physical damage types, you will need to select a deductible amount that you will pay on your own before they take effect. A deductible can be anywhere between $50 and $2,000, and the amount you choose will affect the cost of your premium.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM): in the event that an uninsured or underinsured motorist is to blame for your accident, this protection kicks in. The Financial Responsibility Law was created to combat this, but there are still a number of uninsured drivers on the road. Since an uninsured or underinsured driver (who has lower BI coverage limits than yours), most likely lack the financial ability to pay for your bodily injuries and car's damage, UM/UIM allows you to make claims from your own insurer. Depending on the insurer, UM/UIM may consist of several different variants of bodily injury and property damage that independently kick in under different situations. However, note that the UM/UIM limits you choose may never be higher than the BI limits on the same policy.
Medical Payments (MED): as the name suggests, MED provides for expenses that incur from necessary medical care and attention that you need in an accident, up to the limits you choose to purchase. Since it kicks in regardless of fault, it is also known as the first-party benefit. Depending on the insurer, coverage limit can be anything between $1,000 and $10,000. While many people may find this coverage and their health insurance redundant, know that it also covers funeral expense in the event that the insured driver, or a relative he/she lives with, dies from the accident.
Alternative Proof of Financial Responsibility
Although the most recommended (and usually the easiest) way to satisfy your financial responsibility is with an insurance policy, there are several alternatives. When you complete the requirements for any of these options to the Ohio BMV’s satisfactory, the Department will issue you a certificate of financial responsibility. This will be your proof whenever you are asked to present or submit one. The alternatives are:
Cash/Bond Deposit: when you deposit $30,000 in cash, government bonds, or cashier’s check with the Treasurer of State, the BMV will issue you a certificate. This deposit will be used to pay for any claim or judgement against you, as would an insurer if you had a minimum liability auto insurance policy. If you are depositing a cashier’s check, make the check payable to “Treasurer, State of Ohio”.
Real Estate Bond: you can file a real estate bond in the amount of $30,000 to guarantee your ability to pay. You just need to get it signed by two other individuals who own real estate in Ohio and have equity totaling at least $60,000. Note that this bond is only acceptable when it has been approved by a judge and recorded by a court clerk.
Surety Bond: another form of bond of guarantee: filing a surety bond issued by a licensed surety company can also be acceptable evidence for a certificate of financial responsibility. The surety company acts as your guarantor, who will take over the payments in the event of any judgement against you, then later collect the payments from you.
Self-Insurance: if you own or lease more than 25 cars in your name, you may file an application to become a self-insurer with the BMV. When the Department receives sufficient evidence that you have the financial ability to pay potential claims or judgements against you, as would a company under a car insurance policy, it will issue you a certificate of self-insurance. Specifically, here are the requirements and documents you need to apply:
- Owning or leasing 26 or more cars, all under your name.
- Show proof of at least $100,000 in net worth with an income statement, and demonstrate enough reserves to pay out judgments against you for your cars
- You have no record of bankruptcy or questionable financial standing. Any unpaid previous judgements against you will also prevent you from getting the BMV’s approval.