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Having the appropriate level of Ohio auto insurance is a legal requirement. But, savvy Ohio drivers know that having the minimum insurance coverage required in our state isn’t always enough. Sure, it will keep you out of legal trouble, but will it cover all your Ohio auto insurance needs?

Whether you are headed from Cincinnati to Cleveland, or just cruising through lovely old Westerville (one of Money Magazines’ 2009 best places to live in America!), you don’t want to be involved in a situation where the coverage you have isn’t the coverage you need.

How Much Ohio Auto Insurance Coverage do You Need?

It depends. In order not to get ticketed, have your driver's license flagged, or even revoked, Ohio drivers know we need to carry the state minimum levels of liability insurance. Those minimums pay insurance benefits of different amounts if you are involved in an auto accident that was your fault. Ohio state minimum required car insurance coverage will cover the financial costs associated with the accident within three categories, and only up to a certain amount.

When inquiring about the minimum auto insurance coverage in Ohio, you will most often get, “12.5/25/7.5.” Don’t worry; almost everyone is confused when they first hear this. But, what these numbers refer to are the maximum benefit amounts paid in the three areas of coverage. In plain English, it translates to each individual involved in the accident can file a claim to address bodily injury costs up to $12,500 and a total of $25,000. So, if three people have injury costs of $12,500, then only the first two claims filed will be satisfied. The last number refers to the $7,500 maximum amount paid on damage to personal property. If these amounts fail to satisfy the number or the amounts of the claims filed, the people filing the claims have the right to sue you for the difference in cost.

Unfortunately, with the cost of healthcare increasing along with everything else, it’s more likely that the minimum coverage amounts may not address all the costs of the accident. Also, these minimums do nothing to address the costs of getting you back on the road. Furthermore, there are areas of automotive insurance coverage that the minimum requirements don’t cover. So, what you’ll really need in order to be financially protected on the Ohio roads is an insurance plan that covers all of your needs, not just the minimum requirements.

How to Select the Right Ohio Auto Insurance Plan

Beyond the auto insurance minimums required to drive legally in the great state of Ohio, you’ll need to consider what other coverage types and amounts you want to include in your plan. Of course, the final cost of your plan will depend on your selections, so you will also need to keep your budget in mind.

Finally, when shopping for an insurance plan, you will need to consider the type of company you want to do business with. Don’t be fooled, all OH auto insurance agencies are not the same and choosing the right one could mean the difference between quickly resolved insurance issues and nightmare customer service scenarios when you can afford it the least.

Designing your Ohio Auto Insurance Policy

You will need to do an honest assessment of how and where you drive to ascertain what coverage types you’ll need for you and your car. Look into coverage types like auto theft and uninsured/underinsured motorist. Consider where you park your car during the day and at night. If you know that it’s a high crime area, then you definitely want to get vehicle theft coverage. Though our state has a lower rate of auto theft than the national average, tens of thousands of cars and trucks are stolen every year. If one of these happens to be yours, don’t you want to know that your insurance will cover you?

Also, there are over seven million drivers on the roads and highways of Ohio, and over 7% (that’s over half a million) of those are between 15 and 20 years old. The Ohio Department of Transportationreports that this is the demographic that goes without adequate auto insurance coverage the most often. These facts make a clear case for having at least some uninsured/underinsured coverage on your policy, especially if you find yourself commuting past Ohio State University.

Of course there are numerous other types of Ohio car insurance coverage you can add to your plan. With each one, the insurance agency will want to know how much coverage you want for each type. This is where you will need to understand a little about your car and how you drive it. If you commute on major, heavily trafficked highways like interstate 75 entering Toledo or the 270 loop around Columbus, you may want to increase the benefit amount paid on collision coverage. Also, if you regularly drive with your loved ones as passengers, you will likely want a larger coverage amount to pay for injury to passengers.

The more types of insurance coverage on your policy and the larger the benefit paid for each type, the greater the amount you will pay for the policy overall. So, as mentioned earlier, keeping your budget in mind is important. There are several strategies you can employ to get your policy to fit within your budget.

First, it is always cheaper to pay for six months of insurance upfront instead of making a down payment and financing the balance. Often, insurance agencies will charge fees to make monthly payments. Some agencies will asses a down payment that does not include any of the principal balance of the insurance policy. If this is the case, you could spend much more money than you should for the policy itself.

Second, almost every Ohio auto insurance company, whether national or local, will offer a number of discounts on your policy. These discounts cover a wide variety of areas, from student to senior discounts, and from discounts for members of organizations like the Chamber of Commerce or the Kiwanis Club, to safe driving and longevity discounts. Most times, applying enough of these discounts can bring the most expensive insurance policy within budget range.

Finally, you can change the coverage limits, the coverage types, or the amount of the down payment you decide to apply to the policy. This option is mentioned last because once you have designed the perfect policy to fit your needs as an Ohio driver, making sacrifices or concessions on that policy should be the last option exercised. Before you employ this final tactic, ask the insurance agent if there is anything else you could do to reduce the cost of the policy. Remember, the agent has very little incentive to offer you additional discounts or promotional pricing; so, if you don’t ask, they probably won’t offer.

Selecting the Right Ohio Auto Insurance Company

Choosing the agency and company that you want to do business with is a very important part of the process. Different agencies operating out of Ohio will have different rates for similar coverage, different levels of customer service, and different histories of business with their clients. When you choose the company you want to buy your Ohio auto insurance policy from, you need to be confident that they will treat you as a valued customer, resolve your claims quickly, and be ready to offer you the best possible deal they can.

In order to have confidence in your choice compare companies using a rate tool and check their financial stability through AM Best or Moody's. Your due diligence will give you both peace of mind, and the best policy possible.

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