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Ohio has a traditional, fault-based system for auto insurance. Like almost all states, Ohio requires all drivers to have some form of insurance. Failure to maintain proper car insurance coverage can result in penalties and fines. Find out all you need to know below.
Drivers who purchase insurance are required to maintain the Ohio state minimum auto insurance liability limits of 12,500/25,000/7,500. That means you need a car insurance policy that agrees to pay others at least $12,500 per person for bodily injury, up to a total of $25,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $7,500 per accident for property damage. Keep in mind that these are the absolute minimum limits required by law, and they are some of the lowest limits in the United States. If you have assets or a job, you probably need higher limits, because an accident you cause can easily cost you more than your insurance will pay.
Required: Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD)
Additional: Gap Coverage, Towing and Labor, Roadside Assistance, and Rental Reimbursement
After your driving record, claim and credit history are verified using consumer reports, your policy will be issued. Your insurance rates can only change at renewal, once an insurance company issues a policy. Your renewal rate can go up or down based on any of the factors the company is allowed to consider. The auto insurance company can't raise your rate due to a single accident for which you were not at fault and were not found guilty in court.
Some discounts may be available at any time. Ohio has a mandatory discount for drivers over 60 with good driving records that have taken a state-approved accident prevention course and submitted proof to their insurance company. Most companies will apply a Good Student discount whenever the student earns a B average. And, multi-car or multi-policy discounts are available whenever you are qualified.
For the first 90 days, the company can cancel the policy for almost any reason. This gives the company time to verify the information on your insurance application. After 90 days, they are required to provide at least liability insurance for two years, subject to a few conditions, such as you paying your premiums on time and maintaining your driver's license in good standing.
If the insurance company believes you have violated these conditions, they must notify you at least 30 days in advance of the intended cancellation. If you fail to pay the premium on time, they must give 10 days' notice of cancellation.
You can cancel your policy at any time by providing your car insurance company with written notice of your intent to cancel, or by returning your policy to them, although we would recommend providing written notice. They are required to return the unused portion of your premium, if any, but they may also charge a "short rate" penalty or cancellation fee.
Auto insurance companies in Ohio are allowed to use your credit history or "insurance score" when setting rates. However, they may not use credit as the sole factor that determines the price of a policy, whether the policy is issued, or any other negative action. You policy will include specific information about how you can learn about the effect of credit on your rate, if any.
Ohio uses a traditional tort liability system with a comparative negligence law. If you are involved in an accident, the law and insurance companies will determine who's at fault for the accident, and by how much. After that, the insurance company of the at-fault driver should pay the people who were injured. The amount the company pays is based on the amount of damage and injury done by their driver, minus an amount of the total equal to the percentage of fault charged to the other people.
Ohio law states that you must be able to pay for injuries to people or property damage you cause. Most people accomplish this by purchasing a car insurance policy meeting the legal requirements listed above. You may also purchase a $30,000 surety bond from an authorized company, or file proof with the BMV proving that bonds or money have been deposited with the State Treasurer.
Ohio requires you to prove you meet the financial responsibility requirements whenever a police officer requests it during a traffic stop or accident, when appearing in court for a traffic violation, and when requested by the BMV via their random verification procedures.
The Ohio BMV randomly selects 5% of registered vehicle owners and mails a letter asking for proof of insurance. If you get one, you have 21 days to send proof that you were insured on the day they sent the letter.
Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to fines, license suspension, license plate and registration suspension, vehicle and license plate impound, and more. It can also lead to the requirement of an SR-22 filing or bond.
Accidents happen and cars break down. It's a fact of life. If you need to find a mechanic or understand your options for a totaled car, we have you covered. Learn more: