Car Insurance Done the SMARTWAY™


America’s smallest state is home to hot wieners, snail salad, low license plate numbers, and high car insurance rates. That’s right; Rhode Island has the highest average premiums in all of New England, and it consistently shows up in the top 10 highest coverage costs in the nation.

Part of the reason is that there are a lot of people packed into a relatively little space. Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state, after only New Jersey. That contributes to considerable traffic (perhaps you’ve noticed it) and more accidents on the roads.

The good news is, you don’t have to pack up and relocate to get a decent rate on your auto coverage. Read through this page and you’ll pick up lots of effective tips for reducing your rate. We’ll kick things off with the most important one: Comparison shop for the best price when it’s time for a new policy.

SmartFinancial is a fast, free, easy, innovative, carrier-neutral way to do just that. Just answer a few quick questions, and we set you up with competing quotes from leading car insurance providers licensed in the state. Hone in on the lowest rate for the specific coverage amounts and types you’re looking for, and you can save hundreds on your premium every year!

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Rhode Island Auto Insurance Rates

Everyone wants the best possible rate on their car insurance, but there’s no one-size-fits-all best policy or carrier. Lots of individual considerations factor into quotes. But if you’re looking for a place to start, try these providers, which were named the top three in New England by a J.D. Power study in 2016 (see the full list).

  1. Amica Mutual
  2. Allstate
  3.  Nationwide

The study looked at things like average premiums, flexibility of policy and payment options, and customer satisfaction scores. These are all good areas to look at when vetting carriers. Also, don’t overlook the rejected claim rate.

We can help you cover lots of ground efficiently when shopping for the lowest quote. Choose your location below or, if it’s not there, just click here instead.

 

Legalities 101

All Rhode Island residents with a registered vehicle must carry certain levels of minimum car insurance coverage (we’ll get to some specifics on this shortly). The idea is that everyone must be financially accountable for damage and/or injuries they cause while operating their motor vehicle. That protects each and every motorist, including you.

Accidents are simply a fact of life for most drivers at some point. That’s when people tend to learn to appreciate their insurance a little more, seeing it as a form of financial protection, rather than just another expense.

Rhode Island Driving Safety

With 45 traffic accident deaths in 2015, the state has shown considerable progress bringing its fatality rate down in recent years. In fact, it now has one of the lowest fatality rates relative to its population in the country.

Improving road safety has largely resulted from concerted efforts in a few key areas determined to be primary causes of serious injury and fatalities. These include campaigns to discourage speeding, reduce impaired driving, better educate young drivers, and increase motorcycle awareness, as well as the passing of a primary seat belt law.

Rhode Island Driving Safety Stats

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45
Total number of traffic crash fatalities 2015
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9
Number of motorcyclist fatalities in 2015
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8
Number of pedestrian fatalities in 2015

Driving Green

If you strive to lead a more sustainable lifestyle as far as your vehicle and driving habits are concerned, there are probably some opportunities for your eco-consciousness to be financially rewarded. For example, consider the below incentives available to Rhode Island residents.

  • Emissions Testing Exemptions for Electric Vehicles

    Every two years, Rhode Islanders must have emissions testing performed along with their safety inspections. Unless, that is, they drive an electric vehicle. These green drivers don’t have to spend the time and money on emissions testing. Note that this doesn’t apply to hybrids, though.es.

  • Auto Insurance Discounts

    Many carriers in the state give drivers of electric, hybrid, alternative fuel, or economy vehicles a reduced rate on their premium. They also usually give their environmentally friendly customers discounts for keeping their mileage below a certain limit over the course of the year, or they may offer a pay-as-you-drive option. These two discounts are ideal for people who drive as little as possible to reduce their carbon footprint.

  • State and Federal Tax Credits

    There are various tax incentives offered on the State and Federal levels for drivers who make green choices. For example, if you drive an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) registered in Warren, RI, you may qualify for an excise tax exemption. Or, if you purchase an all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the IRS offers up to a $7,500 tax credit; learn more about this at FuelEconomy.gov.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

In Rhode Island, motorists must carry at least $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 bodily injury liability coverage per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability coverage.

Rhode Island is a tort, or at-fault, state. That means your auto insurance is there for the benefit of other drivers whose property you damage or who are injured by you; every other driver’s insurance protects you in the same ways. When you’re in an accident, your expenses are paid through a claim filed with your insurance company or the at-fault party’s carrier, and possibly through personal injury litigation.

You’re automatically provided with minimum uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 bodily injury per person and $50,000 bodily injury per accident, but you may waive it if you don’t want it. This type of insurance protects you in the event of an accident caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.

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$ 25,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to a single person

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$ 50,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

Coverage for multiple people injured in a single accident

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$ 25,000
Property damage per accident

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

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

Minimum coverage is the cheapest way to go. Sometimes, that’s all people can afford. But if you’re able to increase your coverage limits, it’s advisable. The maximum payments from minimum coverage can prove inadequate in the wake of a serious accident.

Also, optional coverages are a smart way to achieve greater financial protection and peace of mind from your policy. There are various types of damage and other car troubles that aren’t covered by liability insurance, and that’s where optional coverages can be a real boon.

Optional coverage in Rhode Island

  • Auto Loan/Lease (or "gap")
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Customized Parts and Equipment
  • Emergency Road Service
  • Excess Electronic Equipment
  • Medical Payments
  • Rental Coverage
  • Towing and Labor
  • Travel Expenses
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

Some exclusions will apply.

If you have financing on your vehicle through a bank, dealer, or other institution, the lender often requires you to carry comprehensive and/or collision coverage. Keep this in mind when tailoring your policy and calculating your loan and monthly bill costs.

10 Things to Consider when Shopping for a New Auto Insurance Policy has some useful guidance for when it’s time to buy.

Rhode Island car insurance companies

Amica Mutual
Allstate
Nationwide
GEICO
Progressive
Plymouth Rock Assurance
Liberty Mutual
State Farm
The Hartford
Travelers
Safety Insurance
Arbella
MAPFRE Insurance
MetLife
The Hanover

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

Car Safety for Rhode Island Kids

Rhode Island Car Seat Regulations

As per Rhode Island’s primary seat belt law, kids 13 and up—as well as all adults—must use the vehicle’s seat belts no matter where they’re sitting. Through age 12, child passengers must be secured in an appropriate, Federally approved manner, whether that’s a car or booster seat or the vehicle’s factory-installed restraint system.

More specifically, babies up to 1 year of age and 20 pounds should use a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle (preferably in the center seat). After that, a front-facing car seat should be used until at least 40 pounds, or until the child surpasses the manufacturer’s stated size limit. The next phase for child passengers is a booster seat, which should remain in use until the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height, and preferably at least 80 pounds.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

While a handful of states have enacted legislation to prohibit young children from being left alone in a vehicle, Rhode Island isn’t yet one of them. Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of the dangers.

Kids can get hurt playing around unsupervised in a car, and if the keys are left in the ignition or the vehicle, children can even cause damage or injuries by setting it in motion. Also, children left alone are at risk of being victimized by strangers.

But one of the most significant and under-recognized risks is when the interior of a vehicle gets too hot, which can happen in very little time if it’s warm or hot out, or even if it’s temperate but the vehicle is in direct sunlight. In such circumstances, kids (and pets) may suffer dehydration, heat stroke, brain damage, and even death.

Car Insurance FAQ

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

Yes, because statistics have shown a correlation between credit score and claim frequency, and Rhode Island doesn’t prohibit use of consumer credit history in this way (only a few states do). But your credit score is just one of numerous factors in determining your rate, along with your driving record, vehicle type, location, age, gender, marital status, coverage history, and others.

Does Rhode Island offer a good-driver discount?

Good driver discounts are something available through many car insurance companies. Ask yours if it has one, and how long you have to go without an accident (and possibly a moving violation) to qualify. While you’re at it, you could also ask about other possible discounts, such as:

  • Claims-Free Discount
  • Credit Score
  • Anti-Lock Brakes, Air Bags, or Daytime Running Lights
  • Good Student Grades
  • Continued Policy Renewals
  • Accident-Free
  • Anti-Lock Brake
  • Anti-Theft Device
  • Home Ownership
  • Multi-Car
  • Multiple Line
  • Passive Restraint

Does Rhode Island allow the use of digital insurance cards?

As of mid 2014, Rhode Islanders have been permitted to show digital proof of coverage on their smartphone or other mobile device.

What happens if my coverage lapses?

It is unlawful to have lapsed coverage in Rhode Island. If you’re pulled over or in an accident without insurance, you face hefty fines and up to 1 year of license suspension. Additionally, the State uses the Uninsured Motorist Identification Database to discover residents with a registered vehicle but no current policy. If you’re identified, you’ll get a warning and grace period to acquire coverage, but if you don’t, your registration will be revoked and you’ll be charged fines.

What are Rhode Island'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 Rhode Island with the following BAC percentages:

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

In Rhode Island, you don’t have to be drunk, register 0.08% BAC, or even be driving on a public road to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. If you’re operating a motor vehicle anywhere—even your own driveway—and the arresting officer testifies that your abilities were at all impaired, you can be found guilty.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in Rhode Island?

All drivers are deemed to have agreed to breath, urine, or blood test screenings under Rhode Island’s implied consent law, which lays out some of the steepest penalties for refusal in the country. Even a first-time refusal may carry consequences including $200 to $500 in fines, a 6-month to 1-year license suspension, 10 to 60 hours of community service, completion of a court-ordered DUI safety course or addiction treatment program, and/or installation of an ignition interlock device.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense. The more prior convictions there are on a person’s record, the steeper the penalties; jail time becomes mandatory with the second and all subsequent convictions (and it may be ordered with a first conviction). Also, aggravating circumstances can increase penalties.

However, first offenses are typically punished with $100 to $400 in fines, a $500 highway assessment fee, various other fees, 10 to 60 hours of community service, a 3-month to 1-year license suspension, up to 1 year imprisonment, mandatory completion of a DUI safety course or drug and alcohol treatment program, and requirement to maintain proof of responsibility for 3 years.

Does Rhode Island offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

Often, carriers extend a premium discount to motorists who voluntarily complete a State-approved defensive driving course. This doesn’t apply to classes taken following a traffic violation or conviction to prevent points being assessed against the license or to comply with a court order.

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

Auto insurance rates are a product of many individual factors, some of which are more under your control than others. As a long-term strategy, strive to maintain a clean driving record, uninterrupted coverage, and a high credit score. Ask about discounts like those discussed throughout this page, select  a higher deductible for a lower premium, and consider paying upfront for a full term of coverage. Most crucial, though, is doing your research when buying a new policy, allowing yourself time to comparison shop for the lowest possible quotes.

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in Rhode Island?

Uninsured motorist coverage is a protection against hit-and-run drivers who can’t be tracked down after the fact and drivers illegally operating a motor vehicle without car insurance. Rhode Island has been ranked in the top 10 states for number of uninsured drivers. This type of coverage comes with all auto insurance policies sold in the state by default, but consumers may opt out if they choose.

17%
Uninsured drivers in Rhode Island
12%
Uninsured drivers Nationwide

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