All too often, some people mistakenly think they can cancel auto insurance on a vehicle during periods of time when they don't drive it. According to Ohio law, however, insurance or other proof of financial responsibility (FR) must be maintained on all registered vehicles whether they're being driven or not. According to the bureau's web-site, the only exceptions to this rule would be if "the owner submits evidence to show that the vehicle is exempt because the vehicle:
- is used on a seasonal basis only and the date specified is out of season for that vehicle;
- is inoperable and has been out of service for a period of at least 30 days immediately prior to the selection date or;
-is exempt for any other reason as approved by the Registrar."
The BMV otherwise has no way of knowing if a vehicle is really not being used or if the owner is just saying it isn't just to avoid insuring it. According to a rep at the BMV, the only way to avoid the requirement for FR proof is to cancel the vehicle registration and return the license plates to the BMV. Many people don’t want to deal with this hassle, however, especially those who do plan on driving the car again in the future. For this reason, some choose to take a risk and drop insurance on a vehicle without cancelling its registration. This is risky because Ohio uses a random selection program to enforce its financial responsibility laws.
According to the BMV's web-site, this process includes the mailing of letters to a randomly selected 5% of registered Ohio vehicle and noncommercial truck owners. "Approximately 5,400 notices are generated per week or 280,000 notices annually," notes the site. "If the vehicle owner, within that 21-day period, fails to respond, fails to give acceptable evidence that the vehicle is exempt, or fails to give acceptable proof of financial responsibility, the BMV must order the suspension of the person's license and the impoundment of the person's certificate of registration and license plates."
The site gives this number to call with questions: 1-877-315-6605
So, even though it could be tempting to drop insurance when money is tight, it could be costly in the long run if it results in a suspended license. See article on filing SR-22's.