Drivers in the Ocean State are required by state law to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance in order to be on the road legally. Rhode Island minimum car insurance is 25/50/25, although you may purchase more if you choose.
Rhode Island saw 59 traffic accidents that ended in death in 2019, many of them related to drunk driving. Although Rhode Islanders are driving less due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this does not mean there is no risk when you are behind the wheel. Rhode Island auto insurance requirements are in place to minimize that risk and protect you if you are in an accident.
Car insurance laws in Rhode Island
As we noted above, Rhode Island insurance laws require 25/50/25 worth of liability coverage. But what do these numbers mean? Here is an overview of what you receive with minimum coverage:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist property damage: $25,000 per accident
The average cost for Rhode Island’s minimum insurance is $605 per year, which is just a little more than the national average of $563. Full coverage in Rhode Island, which includes collision and comprehensive insurance, costs $1,846 annually, compared to the national average of $1,738.
Liability insurance in Rhode Island
Liability means that you are responsible for the costs associated with an accident if you are the one who caused it, or are determined to be at least partly at fault. Note that it does not pay for your own injuries or damage if you are at-fault, but for the other driver’s costs.
Is the Rhode Island minimum car insurance enough to cover you adequately? Not always. Consider, for example, what might happen if you cause an accident where the other driver ends up with injuries that require surgery or extensive rehab. In this case, the $25,000 that your minimum coverage gives you could be used up quickly – and you would be responsible for paying for any remaining costs out of your own pocket.
Or think about property damage in the same accident: the average cost of a new car in the U.S. is more than $40,000. If the car you hit was totaled and was fairly new or a larger vehicle such as an SUV or truck, you would be paying for any costs out-of-pocket that were above $25,000.
To be adequately covered, then, many insurance experts would recommend that you purchase more than the minimum, such as 100/300/50 coverage. This would increase your premium, of course, but could pay off hugely if you were in a serious accident.
Is Rhode Island a no fault state?
Rhode Island is not one of 12 no-fault states in the U.S. No-fault laws are designed to keep lawsuits out of the court system, so there are limits as to when the victim in an accident can file a case. Instead, drivers make their claim to their own insurer regardless of who is at fault, and they carry a type of insurance called personal injury protection to meet those claims.
Since Rhode Island does not follow this system, there are no limits on drivers who wish to file a court case following an accident.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Rhode Island
You must always carry proof of your auto insurance with you when behind the wheel. If you do not, you will have a period of time to visit your DMV and provide proof of insurance. If you do not meet this deadline, your registration will be revoked and you will need to pay a fee of $252.50 to reinstate it. You will need to present your insurance card as well. Your license may also be suspended at this time for three months.
For subsequent violations, fees will increase from $500 to $1,000 and your driving privileges may be suspended for up to a year. You will also be required to have an SR-22 certificate for at least three years. There may also be a reinstatement fee of $50 in order to drive again legally.
Additional auto insurance coverage options in Rhode Island
Liability insurance covers damages and injuries faced by the other driver, but in order to have insurance that will cover your own injuries and car in an at-fault accident, you will need optional coverage. Rhode Island insurers offer a range of insurance types that provide valuable coverage options, including the following:
- Collision: This will cover damage to your car in an accident. It has a deductible, which is usually anywhere between $250-$2,000. If you lease your car or have a car loan, you may be required to carry it, but it is less necessary if you own an older car that might not be worth fixing in an accident.
- Comprehensive: Often bundled with collision, this type of coverage kicks in for non-accident-related mishaps, such as theft, vandalism or a natural disaster. If a tree falls on your car in a windstorm, for example, comprehensive will pay for the damages. Like collision, it has a deductible.
- Medical payments (medpay): This coverage can be used to pay for medical or funeral expenses for you or your passengers in an accident. It may also be used if you are hit by a car while you are a pedestrian, or are getting into or out of your car.
- Gap coverage: You may receive a check for the depreciated value of your vehicle following an accident, but what if you owe more than that on your car loan? In that case, gap coverage will pay the difference between what you owe and your car’s value.
- Towing and labor costs: This type of optional insurance helps if you need roadside assistance. It will pay for towing, tire changes, jump starts, lockout assistance and possibly more. Read your policy carefully to know the full scope of your coverage.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company?
The best car insurance company for you may not be the same as the one that works best for your neighbor. It is worth shopping around, reviewing insurer websites, and getting online quotes to see who has the best combination of inexpensive premiums, financial solidity and excellent customer service. Our list of Best Car Insurance Companies for 2021 is a good place to start your search.
What is the cheapest car insurance company in Rhode Island?
Premium costs differ with each individual, based on the age and model of your car, your driving record, credit rating and many other factors — so it is impossible to say that there is one company that is cheapest for everyone. We recommend starting with the insurers on our Cheapest Car Insurance in Rhode Island page for the most inexpensive premiums possible.