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Driving in the First State

Delaware is the sixth least populous but sixth most densely populated state in the U.S. We’ll leave it up to you whether or not that’s interesting. And, for a little more trivia, do you know where your home state got its name? From Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. He was an Englishman born in 1577 and the first colonial governor of—can you guess which state?

Virginia. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

But more to the topic at hand, Delaware consistently ranks within the top 11 states with the highest average auto insurance rates. States with high population density are often the most expensive in this regard. But savvy local drivers aren’t destined to pay high premiums forever. There are plenty of ways to pay less, and you can learn about many of them on this page.

The most effective way to minimize your car insurance payments, however, is to comparison shop for the lowest quote on the optimal coverage for your needs. And you’re in just the right place to do that. Our carrier-neutral information instantly provides unbiased quotes.

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Delaware Auto Insurance Rates

It might seem overwhelming trying to choose a carrier from so many contenders. If you’re stressing about where to start, take a deep breath and check out these three top-rated insurance companies in Delaware first (see the full list).

  1. Erie Insurance
  2. NJM Insurance Co
  3. The Hartford

A 2016 J.D. Power auto insurance study used data pertaining to average premiums, policy flexibility, customer satisfaction scores, convenience of payment options, and other factors to arrive at these rankings. More on this later—but if you can’t wait, just click the above link to the full list of carriers.

To reduce the stress of shopping around even more, SmartFinancial’s proprietary search engine technology instantly analyzes carrier data in the context of your personal information to find the lowest quotes on your ideal coverage. It’s easy, fast, and secure! Either choose your city from the options below, or if it’s not there, give it a try now!


Legalities 101

Auto insurance isn’t optional. But it’s not just a legally mandated drain on your wallet; it’s an essential financial protection against the costs associated with an accident. Depending on the circumstances and severity, vehicle repairs and medical bills easily run up to many thousands of dollars and beyond. Without insurance, it’d probably be a significant hardship, and could even lead to bankruptcy. Car insurance can spare you. Remember, even if you’re the most responsible, defensive motorist on the road, you don’t control other drivers and environmental factors that can contribute to an accident.

Delaware Driving Safety

In 2015, there were 129 fatal traffic accidents resulting in 133 deaths in Delaware. While that may sound low, it’s actually a fairly high fatality rate per capita for the U.S. There were over 24,000 reported crashes in total, with more than 8,050 people injured—an average of almost one per hour—and causing an estimated $641 million in economic losses in the state.

Take a look at the Delaware State Police’s 2015 Annual Traffic Statistical Report for lots more crash, safety, demographic, and historical data.

Delaware Driving Safety Stats

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Number of reported traffic crashes in 2015
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Number of traffic fatalities in 2015
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Percent of 2015's fatal crashes involving a drunk driver

Driving Green

Delaware doesn’t have quite as robust a green driving incentive program as many other states. Still, residents who make environmentally responsible decisions about their vehicles or driving habits can often save some money for it.

Here are a few possibilities to investigate:

  • Green Driver Car Insurance Discounts

    Many carriers offering coverage in Delaware give discounts to drivers of alternative fuel, hybrid, and/or economy vehicles. Also, because maintaining low mileage over the course of the year lowers your risk of an accident at the same time it lowers your carbon footprint, lots of auto insurance companies provide low-mileage discounts.

  • Green Vehicle Purchase/Lease Rebates and Electric Vehicle Charging Rebates

    The Delaware Clean Vehicle Rebate Program provides up to a $2,200 rebate on the purchase or lease of various new battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles. It runs in conjunction with the Delaware Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Rebate Program, which offers residents rebates for Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations.

  • Gift Cards for Green Commuters

    Rideshare Delaware encourages carpooling, walking, biking, and other sustainable methods of commuting to and from work. First-time participating residents can qualify for a $50 gift card, and the site frequently runs promotions and contests in which users can win more gift cards.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

The minimum coverage requirements are relatively low in Delaware. Motorists must carry at least $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person and $30,000 per accident, along with at least $10,000 property damage coverage per accident.

You also need personal injury protection (PIP) in the amount of $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person and $30,000 per accident. Delaware is known as an “add-on” state; it’s not strictly a no-fault system, but you can still only file a claim through your own carrier, and your right to sue for personal injuries is not limited.

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$ 15,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious injury or death to a single person

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$ 30,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

Maximum payment for serious injury or death to more than one person

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$ 10,000
Property damage per accident

Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

For those who like to take some big risks in life, minimizing insurance costs by carrying only the minimally required coverage may seem like a good idea. However, minimum coverage leaves you vulnerable to lots of potential out-of-pocket expenses. It’s advisable to carry optional coverages that can—for just a little more each month—prevent you from ending up on the hook for big money.

Optional coverage in Delaware

  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Gap Coverage
  • Accident Forgiveness
  • Roadside Assistance
  • New Car Replacement
  • Loss of Use
  • Medical Benefits
  • Travel Expenses
  • Rental Car
  • Vehicle Value Upgrade

These are some standard optional coverages available to Delaware drivers. Some exclusions will apply. One other thing to consider if you have a car loan: the lender will probably require you to carry collision, comprehensive, and/or other optional coverages to protect the vehicle until it’s paid off. Factor that into your monthly expenditure when you’re calculating the cost of your coverage.

Informed consumers score better deals! Read our article 11 Mistakes People Make when Shopping for Auto Insurance to avoid some common missteps that can cost you big bucks.

Delaware car insurance companies

Erie Insurance
NJM Insurance Co.
The Hartford
Plymouth Rock Assurance
State Farm
21st Century
Liberty Mutual

*This list of car insurance companies is based on the ratings for the Mid-Atlantic region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: claims, price, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.

Car Safety for Delaware Kids

Delaware Car Seat Regulations

Delaware car seat law states that all children must be properly secured in an appropriate federally approved safety seat until the age of 8 or reaching 65 pounds—whichever happens first.

Infants should be in a rear-facing car seat in the rear of the vehicle until reaching the seat’s weight limit.  After that, the child may change over to a belt-positioning booster seat until the above-specified time.

Because they’re at greater risk of more serious injuries in an accident in the front seat, and because airbag deployment can harm a child, it’s recommended that kids remain in the back of the vehicle at least until the age of 13.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

Delaware doesn’t have a law specifically addressing the issue of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. However, child neglect or abuse laws may be applied if officials decide the situation warrants it.

All parents, guardians, and caretakers should be informed about the risks associated with leaving kids in a parked car, SUV, or truck. Along with the more obvious dangers of self-inflicted injuries while playing around, abduction, and assault, children (and pets) can also suffer heat stroke, brain damage, and death from being in a hot vehicle.

Temperatures rise rapidly inside an automobile, even if the window are left cracked and even on a mild to warm day—particularly if the car is sitting in direct sunlight. The interior temperature can spike about 30 degrees in half an hour or less, even climbing well above the atmospheric temperature outside.

Car Insurance FAQ

Is my credit score a factor when obtaining car insurance in Delaware?

Yes. Delaware is one of 47 states where insurance companies are free to reference your credit report to calculate your so-called “insurance score.” Carriers arrive at this rating using a formula to evaluate your risk of getting into an accident/filing a claim, and thus your rates.

Does Delaware offer a good-driver discount?

Sure! Plenty of car insurance providers in the state offer good-driver discounts. It helps them attract and retain the most desirable insurance customers: those with the least risk of having to file a claim. Other common discounts offered by Delaware carriers include:

  • Full Pay
  • Multiple Car
  • Multiple Policy
  • Good Student
  • Resident Student
  • Accident Free
  • Vehicle Safety
  • Anti-Lock Brake
  • Anti-Theft Device
  • Home Ownership
  • New Car
  • Passive Restraint
  • Utility Discount
  • Affinity (qualifying organization membership

Does Delaware allow the use of digital insurance cards?

It does. No more digging around in your glove compartment for that printed insurance card! As of mid 2014, Delaware residents can show digital proof of insurance issued by their carrier on their cell phone or other electronic mobile device.

What happens if my coverage lapses?

It’s not a good idea to let your auto insurance policy expire without renewing or purchasing a new one. Having a registered vehicle without at least the minimum coverage is against the law in Delaware, and the state Department of Motor Vehicles performs audits to find uncovered vehicles. For a first offense, you’ll be fined at least $1,500, and this doubles for subsequent infractions. Also, your license will be suspended for 6 months.

What are Delaware’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage limits under the state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws?

It’s against the law to drive in Delaware at the following BAC percentages:

.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ at under 21 years old

Note that in Delaware, you don’t have to register a 0.08% BAC to be arrested for DUI. If the attending law enforcement agent determines that your ability to safely operate your motor vehicle has been impaired by alcohol or any other legal or illegal substance, you can be arrested for DUI.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in Delaware?

As is the case in most of the country, Delaware residents have given their “implied consent” to a breath, urine, or blood test simply by having a state driver’s license. Refusing the test won’t help avoid a DUI conviction. The first time you refuse a test, your driving privileges are suspended for 1 year; if you refuse on a second occasion, the suspension lasts 18 months, and then 24 months for a third refusal.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

A number of considerations affect the consequences of a DUI conviction in Delaware. For example, your number of prior DUI convictions, your number of moving violations within the last 2 years, whether you caused damage or injuries while driving impaired, if your BAC was 0.15% or higher, and whether there was a minor with you at the time of your DUI are some factors in sentencing.

For a first offense without other factors at play, a DUI conviction means up to 6 months in jail, installation of an ignition interlock device, up to $1,500 in fines, and driver’s license revocation for at least 1 year.

There’s more detailed information about DUI procedures and penalties in the Delaware Office of Highway Safety’s booklet DUI Is a Total Buzzkill: Delaware DUI Laws (PDF).

Does Delaware offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

Yes! Complete an in-person or online state-approved defensive driving course and you can qualify for a 10% discount on a portion of your auto insurance for 3 years. Then, take a refresher course within 180 days of the end of this 3-year period and you can get a 15% discount.

Is there any way I can reduce the cost of my Delaware car insurance?

Delaware drivers have plenty of options for cutting down the cost of their automobile insurance. As a general measure, work to improve your credit score so you’ll receive a more favorable insurance score. You get a lower premium if you choose a higher deductible too, and paying upfront rather than in monthly installments earns you a better deal. Don’t forget to inquire about any available discounts. And of course, when it’s time for a new policy, shop around for the lowest quote.

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in Delaware?

Uninsured motorist coverage is a policy addition that protects you if you’re involved in a crash with someone illegally driving without coverage or who flees the scene of the accident. Similarly, underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event of an accident caused by a driver without  enough coverage. This type of coverage is not required in Delaware, but it’s strongly recommended; all carriers in the state must offer this optional coverage.

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