Rhode Island Car Insurance Laws – Everything You Need to Know

Understanding your state’s car insurance laws is crucial for staying legal and protected on the road. This article will explain Rhode Island’s major auto insurance laws, including minimum coverage requirements, penalties for driving uninsured, and more.

Overview of Rhode Island Insurance Requirements

Rhode Island is an “at-fault” state, meaning the driver responsible for an accident must pay for resulting damages. To ensure drivers can cover costs, the state requires:

  • Minimum liability coverage – Pays for injury/damage you cause others. Rhode Island requires:

    • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
    • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
    • $25,000 for property damage
  • Uninsured motorist coverage – Covers losses if you’re hit by an uninsured driver. Rhode Island requires:

    • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
    • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • Underinsured motorist coverage – Covers gaps if an at-fault driver lacks sufficient coverage. Rhode Island requires:

    • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
    • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury

Liability coverage helps protect your assets if you cause an accident. Uninsured and underinsured coverage protect you if others lack sufficient coverage.

Required Documentation

To register a vehicle and obtain coverage in Rhode Island, you must have:

  • Proof of insurance – This verifies you have active car insurance meeting the state minimums. It must be carried in your vehicle at all times.

  • Registration – New RI residents must title and register vehicles within 30 days. Registration must be renewed every 2 years.

  • Driver’s license – Drivers must be licensed in Rhode Island within 30 days of becoming a resident.

Penalties for Driving Uninsured

Driving without insurance in Rhode Island can lead to:

  • Fines – Up to $500 for a first offense, up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

  • License/registration suspension – Until you provide proof of insurance.

  • Reinstatement fees – Around $300 to lift the suspension.

  • SR-22 requirement – High-risk drivers may need to file an SR-22 form showing proof of insurance for 3 years.

  • Rate increases – Insurance rates could rise significantly after a lapse in coverage.

Laws for High-Risk Drivers

If you’re considered a high-risk driver in Rhode Island due to violations, at-fault accidents, etc., you may face:

  • Higher premiums – Insurers can raise rates based on your driving record.

  • Non-renewal/cancellation – Insurers can legally non-renew or cancel policies for high-risk drivers.

  • Limited policy options – You may need to purchase minimum liability-only coverage.

  • SR-22 requirement – Proof of insurance must be filed with the DMV for 3 years.

  • Installation of an ignition interlock device – May be required after a DUI conviction.

Impact of Accidents/Violations on Insurance

In Rhode Island, insurers use your driving history to set rates. Major violations and at-fault accidents can significantly increase your premium.

  • Minor violations – Speeding tickets, stop sign violations, etc. Typically raise rates 10-15% per violation for 3 years.

  • Major violations – Reckless driving, DUIs, license suspension, etc. Can raise rates 25-30%+ per violation for 5+ years.

  • At-fault accidents – Raise premiums 10-30% or more, depending on severity. Higher rates last 5+ years.

  • Not-at-fault accidents – Typically don’t impact premiums unless you file a claim.

Rhode Island Laws for New Policies

When starting a new insurance policy in Rhode Island, key laws include:

  • 10-day free look period – Review your policy and cancel within 10 days for a full refund if unhappy.

  • 30-day binder – New policies provide temporary coverage for 30 days while you shop for a regular policy.

  • Annual policy term – Auto insurance contracts run for one year. You must renew annually.

  • Grace period – You have a 10-day grace period after your renewal date to pay before cancellation.

  • Down payment may be required – Insurers can require a down payment of up to 2 months’ premium.

How Insurers Set Rates in Rhode Island

Insurers use various factors about you and your car to set premiums. Major rating factors in Rhode Island include:

  • Driving record – At-fault accidents, traffic violations, and length of driving experience.

  • Vehicle – Make/model, age, safety features, repair costs, and theft rates.

  • Location – Where you live and park your car. Population density and accident rates in those areas.

  • Personal factors – Age, gender, marital status, credit history, and insurance claims history.

  • Policy options – Deductibles, liability limits, and additional coverages chosen.

  • Discounts – Percentage discounts for low mileage, good student status, defensive driver course completion, etc.

Insurers apply complex algorithms using these factors to determine your risk profile and set personalized premiums.

How Insurance Companies Handle Claims in Rhode Island

When an accident occurs, insurers follow standard claim procedures:

  • Report – File a claim with your insurer immediately. Provide details of the incident.

  • Investigation – The insurer dispatches an adjuster to assess damages, review evidence, and determine fault if applicable.

  • Resolution – The insurer pays out covered losses per policy terms. You may need to pay your deductible.

  • Recourse – If you dispute a claims decision, you can provide evidence and request the insurer re-evaluate. If an impasse occurs, legal action may be an option.

Rhode Island Insurance Laws for Cancellations/Non-Renewals

Insurers must follow state laws when canceling a policy mid-term or refusing to renew a policy:

  • Notice required – Insurers must provide 20 days’ written notice before cancelling or non-renewing a policy.

  • Allowable reasons – Insurers can only cancel or non-renew for specific reasons outlined in state law, like fraud or high-risk driving.

  • Grace period for late payment – Insurers must provide a 10-day grace period for late payments before cancelling.

  • Pro-rata refunds – Any unused premium for the canceled policy term must be refunded on a pro-rata basis.

  • Right to appeal – Policyholders can request a hearing with the state if they believe the cancellation/non-renewal was improper.

Bottom Line

Knowing Rhode Island’s car insurance laws and requirements allows you to make informed decisions when shopping for coverage and dealing with claims or violations. Key takeaways include:

  • Rhode Island requires liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

  • Driving uninsured leads to fines, suspension, and possible rate hikes.

  • Accidents and violations can increase your premium for several years.

  • Insurers use your driving history and other risk factors to set rates.

  • Standard procedures regulate cancellations, non-renewals, and claim handling.

Consult an insurance agent or the DMV if you need help understanding Rhode Island auto insurance laws. Complying with state regulations keeps you driving legally and safely.

Best Car Insurance in Rhode Island


What is the car insurance law in Rhode Island?

Minimum insurance requirements for Rhode Island The minimum amount of Rhode Island auto insurance coverage is $25,000/$50,000/$25,000. In the event of a covered accident, your limits for bodily injury are $25,000 per person, with a total maximum of $50,000 per incident.

Is Rhode Island a no fault accident state?

Is Rhode Island a fault or no-fault state? Rhode Island is an “at-fault,” “fault,” or “tort” state for car accidents. That means that the one who caused the crash is the one who pays for damages. To collect injury compensation, accident victims typically file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.

What is the grace period for car insurance in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island new-car insurance grace period is 7 to 30 days in most cases. The new-car grace period is how long insured drivers are allowed to drive a newly purchased vehicle before adding it to an existing car insurance policy.

When did car insurance become mandatory in Rhode Island?

1993: Car insurance finally becomes mandatory in Rhode Island.

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