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  • Car Insurance in Rhode Island

    Car Insurance in Rhode Island

    RI Car Insurance

    All drivers in Rhode Island must have liability coverage, and all liability insurance policies must offer uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage option is helpful, because around 15% of the cars on the state’s roads are uninsured.

    Read below to learn more about required and optional car insurance coverage, as well as discounts and other details about car insurance rates.

    RI Car Insurance Requirements

    RI drivers must have liability insurance to help cover another driver’s expenses resulting from an accident for which you are at fault.

    In addition, all Rhode Island auto insurance policies must offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, but you can decline this coverage if you choose.

    Liability Coverage

    If you are found to be at fault for a car accident, liability coverage helps pay for:

    • Damage to someone else’s property.
    • Injuries to the other driver and/or passengers.

    The minimum coverage limits you can purchase in Rhode Island are:

    • Bodily injury coverage:
      • $25,000 per person.
      • $50,000 total per accident.
    • Property damage coverage:
      • $25,000 per accident.

    You can purchase coverage with higher limits, which will increase your insurance rates but offers more coverage.

    Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

    All car insurance policies in Rhode Island must include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage equal to the limits of your liability coverage (see above for limits).

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for your property damage and injuries if you are involved in:

    • A hit and run accident.
    • An accident in which the at-fault driver:
      • Does not have car insurance.
        OR
      • Does not have enough insurance.

    You can decline uninsured motorist coverage. However, remember that an estimated 15% of cars in Rhode Island are uninsured, so uninsured motorist coverage can give you important protection.

    Optional Auto Insurance in RI

    RI car insurance policies can also include optional insurance coverage types that provide protection in other situations.

    These optional coverage types help pay for damages, injuries, and other expenses:

    • Collision coverage: Pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident you cause.
    • Comprehensive coverage: Pays for damage to your car caused by non accident-related factors like severe weather, theft, or wildlife.
    • Medical payments coverage: Provides additional coverage to help pay medical expenses.
    • Rental reimbursement coverage: Reimburses you if you need to rent a car after an accident.
    • Towing and labor coverage: Pays for towing costs when your car breaks down and cannot be driven.

    NOTE: If you are financing or leasing your car, you are required to buy collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

    Proof of Insurance

    You are required by law to carry proof of insurance in your car at all times.

    Acceptable proof of insurance is an insurance card or photocopy of an insurance card showing the car owner’s name.

    Traffic Stops or Accidents

    Failure to provide proof of insurance when you are stopped by a police officer or involved in an accident will result in a $500 fine.

    RI Vehicle Registration

    When you register your car or renew your registration, you will be required to sign a form verifying that you have valid car insurance.

    RI Driver’s License

    To apply for or renew your Rhode Island driver’s license, you must sign a statement obligating you to carry proof of insurance with your vehicle registration at all times.

    Insurance Violations

    The Rhode Island DMV checks car insurance by sending requests for car insurance verification to drivers involved in accidents, and to randomly selected drivers and registered vehicle owners.

    If you do not have car insurance, you face fines and driver’s license suspension or revocation.

    Insurance Verification in Rhode Island

    You will receive an insurance verification request if you are involved in a car accident.

    Verification requests are also sent to:

    • A random selection of Rhode Island vehicle owners.
    • A random selection of drivers:
      • Whose registration has been suspended for auto insurance violations in the last 4 years.
      • Whose driver’s license has been suspended in the last 4 years.
      • Who have bought a car in the past 4 years while the car’s registration was suspended for an insurance violation.

    If you receive an insurance verification request, you must respond within 20 days.

    Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in RI

    Failure to provide verification of valid car insurance will result in:

    • A fine of $500 to $5,000.
    • Revocation of your vehicle registration and license plate:
      • First offense: 3 months.
      • Second offense: 6 months.
      • Third and additional offenses: 1 year.

    The violation is a misdemeanor offense, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 1 year.

    Alternative Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

    You may be considered a high-risk driver if you have violations, at-fault accidents, suspensions, or other infractions on your driving record.

    If you cannot find a car insurance company that will offer you coverage because of your status as a high-risk driver, you can buy car insurance through the Rhode Island Automobile Insurance Plan (RIAIP).

    The RIAIP will assign an auto insurance company to cover you.

    You can contact the RIAIP by phone, by e-mail, or by fax:

    The rates you pay through the RIAIP can be very expensive, so make sure you have shopped around thoroughly before applying for RIAIP coverage.

    SR22 Insurance in RI

    If you have had your driver’s license or vehicle registration suspended or revoked, you may be required to have SR-22 as proof of future financial responsibility before your license or registration can be reinstated.

    In Rhode Island, SR-22 certification (also called SR22 insurance) is required to reinstate your license or registration after suspension due to:

    • Vehicular manslaughter.
    • DWI or DUI.
    • A felony involving a motor vehicle.
    • Committing a hit and run.
    • Perjury or false statements made to the RI MVD.
    • Conviction of 3 reckless driving violations within 12 months.
    • Using a forged license to buy alcohol.
    • Other violations at the discretion of the Rhode Island MVD.

    SR-22 certification can be removed after 1 year IF you have not had any additional convictions.

    Your insurance company must file the SR-22 insurance with the RI DMV.

    This requirement can be expensive. The best way to avoid it is to drive safely and maintain a clean driving record.

    Insurance Complaints and Fraud

    Rhode Island car insurance is regulated by the State of Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, Insurance Division.

    The Insurance Division reviews auto insurance rates to ensure that they are fair.

    They also handle complaints and investigate insurance fraud.

    Insurance Complaints

    If you have a concern or complaint about a car insurance provider, you can contact the Insurance Division for help:

    • Submit the Consumer Complaint online form.
    • Send supporting documents and a copy of the complaint form:
      • By mail:
          State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
          Department of Business Regulation
          Insurance Division
          1511 Pontiac Avenue
          Cranston, RI 02902
      • By fax: (401) 462-9602.

    Auto Insurance Fraud

    Car insurance fraud can take many forms, including:

    • Forged insurance documents.
    • False or exaggerated claims.
    • Staged car accidents.

    If you suspect insurance fraud, you can report it to the Rhode Island Auto Theft and Fraud Unit by calling (401) 444-1035.

    Fraud can cost insurance companies a lot of money, which can result in increased rates. Therefore, reporting fraud can help keep your premium low.

    RI Car Insurance Rates

    In Rhode Island, car insurance premiums are based on several factors, including:

    • Your driving record.
    • Your age, gender, and marital status.
    • Your insurance coverage:
      • History, including lapsed or canceled policies.
      • Type of coverage selected.
      • Limits of the coverage you choose.
      • Your deductible (amount you pay towards a claim).
    • Specific information about your car, including:
      • The make, model, and year.
      • Location where your car is kept.
      • How your car is used.
    • Your credit report.

    These factors are used to determine your rate group, which in turn determines how high or low your rates are.

    RI Car Insurance Discounts

    Many car insurance companies in Rhode Island offer discounts that can lower your auto insurance premiums.

    When getting car insurance quotes for comparison, ask about the availability of these rate discounts:

    • Multiple policies with the same insurance company.
    • Multiple vehicles on one policy.
    • Renewing your policy each year.
    • Accident-free driving.
    • Safety devices in your car, like airbags.
    • Anti-theft devices, like security systems.
    • Low annual mileage on your car.
    • Driver training courses for teenaged or older drivers.
    • Good grades for student drivers.

    To get the most affordable car insurance in Rhode Island, be sure to compare the rates offered by different insurance companies, consider a higher deductible, and maintain a good driving record.

    Most Stolen Cars in Rhode Island

    Owning a car that is a common target for theft can lead to higher car insurance rates.

    The following is a list of Rhode Island's most stolen cars in 2013, according to www.nicb.org:

    1. Nissan Maxima.
    2. Honda Accord.
    3. Dodge Caravan.
    4. Honda Civic.
    5. Toyota Camry.
    6. Nissan Altima.
    7. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee.
    8. Toyota Corolla.
    9. Plymouth Voyager.
    10. Ford Pickup.