Delaware State Laws
Now that we’ve explained Delaware’s insurance laws, let’s look at some of the other laws that drivers should be aware of. Understanding these laws can help you avoid harsh penalties, including fines, license suspensions, and worse consequences like jail time.
Delaware is a no-fault state. That means you must carry no-fault insurance (PIP). After an accident, your insurance company will pay for your medical bills if you are injured, no matter who was responsible for the crash. In fault states, the at-fault driver is responsible for compensating the other person for their medical expenses.
In no-fault states like Delaware, you can file third-party claims for property damage with the at-fault driver’s insurance company after an accident. In this case, you would need to file medical payment claims with your own insurance carrier, since your PIP insurance would cover your medical expenses automatically.
Delaware follows modified comparative negligence laws. That means if you are injured in an accident, you can only seek damages from the other party if you are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. So, for example, if you got injured in an accident and were found to be 70 percent responsible for the crash, you wouldn’t be allowed to seek compensation from the other party.
In Delaware, drivers aren’t required to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Fortunately, most drivers in Delaware have insurance. Data shows that only 9 percent of drivers in Delaware are uninsured, which is 47 percent lower than the U.S. national average of 12 percent.2
In addition, Delaware allows uninsured motorist insurance stacking, but only across multiple policies. That means if you have more than one car insured with the same company, your uninsured motorist coverage limit is multiplied by the number of vehicles you have. For instance, if you choose coverage limits of $50,000/$100,000 and own two cars, your coverage limit would increase to $100,000/$200,000.
Delaware has strict DUI laws. If you are convicted of a DUI in Delaware, the violation will stay on your record forever, whereas most states drop the conviction after five to 10 years.3 For a first conviction, your license will be suspended for three months and you will probably be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.
After a second offense, the consequences are much more severe. You will be fined between $750 and $2,500, and you could face 60 days to eight months in jail. A third-offense DUI is a Class G felony, resulting in a fine of $1,500 to $5,000, and jail time of one to two years.
Seat Belt Laws
Wearing a seat belt is a primary law in Delaware. That means a law enforcement officer is allowed to cite a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, even if no other violations are present.
Distracted Driving Laws
In the state of Delaware, texting or otherwise using a cell phone are considered forms of distracted driving. Delaware’s hands-free law makes it illegal to use your cellphone in any way while operating a vehicle if you are over 16 years old or have a learner’s permit.4 Drivers caught violating the hands-free law may receive a $100 fine for a first offense and fines of $200 to $300 for subsequent offenses.
Teen Driver Laws
In Delaware, young adults under 18 who want to obtain their driver’s licenses must follow the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law.5 After receiving a learner’s permit, a teen may only drive with a licensed adult over 25 for the first six months. After that, they can drive unsupervised between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. After completing the one-year GDL program, teen drivers are eligible to take written and on-road license tests once they turn 17.6
Statute of Limitations for Claims
The statute of limitations for auto insurance claims in Delaware is two years for personal injury and property damage claims. If you file a claim outside of the statute of limitations, your insurance company is not obligated to cover your claim. However, you can still file a claim and attempt to receive compensation from the other party.
Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Car insurance companies are allowed to cancel your policy in the middle of the term if you don’t pay your premium, if you lie on your application, or if you lose your driver’s license.
Your car insurance company must follow certain rules to cancel your insurance policy mid-term. In Delaware, your insurance carrier must notify you of the cancellation within 30 days prior to the expiration date, or 15 days if the reason for cancellation is nonpayment.
Similarly, your insurance carrier can decide not to renew your policy when the policy period is up. For instance, maybe the company no longer offers the type of insurance you purchased, or you have a recent violation such as a DUI on your driving record. Regardless of the reason for non-renewal, your insurance company must notify you at least 30 days prior to the termination date.