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A new website that will allow prospective Ohio car insurance customers to get rough rate estimates and compare prices between companies was unveiled Monday.

The director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, Mary Jo Hudson, expressed her gratitude to the efforts of the department and of participating insurers to get the comparison tool up and running.

"Thanks to the combined efforts of the department and members of Ohio's auto insurance industry, Ohioans will have a powerful tool to help them shop for auto insurance. This interactive resource will allow users to sort quickly through the resulting premium quotes when determining how changes in rating characteristics affect the cost of insurance," she said.

The department's announcement, however, warned there were several limitations on the new tool. First, it could only provide price comparison information on companies that voluntarily participated in the program. Additionally, the announcement said the information provided was not a final quote from an insurer, but merely a range of possible values. reporter Adrian Burns said, in the department's effort to keep the system simple, it had left in too much industry jargon and sometimes could not give an accurate estimate.

"I typed in my particulars and received annual quotes ranging from $493 to $1,380. At least it narrows my potential car insurance cost to an $887 range," Burns reported.

Nor does the site provide important guidance on several topics that might be critical to getting an accurate estimate on an insurance policy, according to Burns. He specifically cites as being insufficient the tool's provided choices of "good," "bad," or "average" for describing a consumer's credit score.