Last updated on April 26th, 2018
In the state of Ohio drivers are required to provide proof of financial responsibility in order to legally operate a vehicle on a public road. Although there are a few different ways in which an Ohio resident can provide proof of financial responsibility the most viable option for a vast majority of Ohio residents is the purchase of an auto insurance policy that satisfies state minimum car insurance requirements. As an at fault state Ohio requires all vehicles to be insured with liability coverage, which will cover the costs of an accident that was caused by the policy holder. The minimum amounts of liability coverage required by Ohio car insurance law are some of the lowest in the country, with Ohio residents having to purchase only $12,500 in per person bodily injury coverage, $25,000 in per accident bodily injury coverage and $7,500 in property damage liability coverage. Most other states that operate under an at-fault car insurance system require at least double the minimum amounts necessary to satisfy Ohio law. Do to the fact that these limits are so low it is quite common for vehicle owners to purchase more coverage than is required by the state in order to reduce the risk of being held personally responsible for the cost of an accident. If an Ohio motorists chooses to purchase only the minimum amounts of liability coverage and they cause an accident in which other drivers sustain injuries or property damage in excess of the amounts to be paid out by the policy the at-fault driver may be hit with a lawsuit. Many Ohio vehicle owners that purchase an auto insurance policy chose to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to their policy as well in order to financially protect themselves and their passengers in the event that they are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. While the state does not require residents to purchase a certain amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage Ohio law does limit the maximum amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that can be purchased to the amount of liability insurance that is purchased. In other words the amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage purchased for an Ohio car insurance policy cannot exceed the amount of liability coverage on the policy.
In lieu of purchasing an auto insurance policy that satisfies state requirements Ohio residents have the option to prove financial responsibility in a number of other ways. Perhaps the most affordable alternative for Ohio residents is to purchase a surety bond in the amount of $30,000 from a surety company authorized to sell bonds within the state. A similar option is the purchase of a BMV certificate backed by $30,000 in cash or government bonds. Both of these options may be the most affordable alternatives available but a majority of Ohio drivers do not have $30,000 that they can put forward towards proving financial responsibility with the state. A more expensive and perhaps viable option would be to secure a BMV certificate backed by $60,000 in real estate though a driver that opts for this method may be in a position to lose their property if they are involved in a car accident.
Before a resident can register a vehicle in the state of Ohio or apply for a driver’s license they are required to sign a statement attesting to the fact that they currently have proof of financial responsibility. Every time a driver is in an accident or is pulled over in Ohio they are required by state law to provide the law enforcement officer on the scene with their proof of financial responsibility. If the driver has a liability insurance policy an insurance ID card will suffice but other methods often require a certificate or a paper issued by the government. In addition to traffic stops and accidents Ohio also monitors the insurance status of its residents through random verification checks conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. As many as 280,000 random verification notices are sent out by the BMV every year in an attempt to find uninsured drivers. Upon receipt of a verification request an Ohio vehicle owner has 21 days to provide the BMV with the information requested, after which they will have their license and registration suspended for at least 56 days. If a driver cannot provide proof that they satisfy the state’s financial responsibility requirements they will lose their driving privileges for a minimum of 90 days and as much 2 years, depending on the driver’s record. This includes license plate and vehicle registration suspension and the payment of any reinstatement fees. A driver could also be required by the BMV to maintain an SR-22 as proof of insurance for a period of three to five years after driving privileges have been suspended. In some cases the uninsured vehicle may even be immobilized or confiscated by the vehicle if a driver is found to be driving while their privileges are suspended by the BMV.