Published: April 15, 2022Updated: August 16, 2022

Guide to Auto Insurance in Delaware

Here’s everything you need to know about car insurance in Delaware.

Find The Right Insurance

Let our Perfect Policy Connectors do the work for you!

Auto Insurance(855) 909-2474Request a free quote

In the state of Delaware, auto insurance is a legal requirement, no matter how old your car is or how often you drive it. Every one of the 812,529 licensed drivers in Delaware must carry a minimum amount of coverage to get behind the wheel legally. On average, Delaware drivers spend $1,440.58 per year on car insurance, which is 26 percent more expensive than the national average rate.

Whether you recently moved to Delaware or are getting ready to purchase your first auto insurance policy in the state, you must understand Delaware’s unique car insurance laws and requirements. We’ll explain everything you need to know before getting car insurance in Delaware, including which providers to consider and how to get a more affordable rate.

Required Car Insurance in Delaware

  • Bodily injury liability: Delaware drivers must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for one person injured in an accident, and $50,000 for two or more people injured in an accident.1 If you cause an accident, this type of insurance will compensate the other driver and passengers for their medical bills and lost wages.
  • Property damage liability: A minimum coverage policy in Delaware requires $10,000 for property damage liability. This policy will pay for another driver’s vehicle damages or property damage if you or someone else driving your car causes a collision.
  • Personal injury protection: Delaware is a no-fault state, so drivers need to carry no-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP). After an accident, PIP will pay for your injuries and your passengers’ injuries, regardless of which driver caused the crash. Delaware drivers must carry at least $15,000 in PIP per person and $30,000 in PIP per accident.

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

In Delaware, you only need to carry bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and PIP to meet the minimum insurance requirements. However, it’s a good idea to purchase more coverage than what’s required.

For liability insurance, for example, Delaware drivers should consider purchasing at least $100,000/$200,000 in bodily injury coverage, and $50,000 in property damage coverage. For PIP, it’s best to purchase double the minimum required coverage.

If you want the most protection, as well as coverage for your vehicle, a full coverage policy is the way to go. Here are some other coverages to consider:

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive car insurance protects your vehicle in non-collision situations. For example, comprehensive insurance will pay for damages resulting from theft, vandalism, falling objects, hail damage, fires, and floods. You don’t get to choose your coverage limits with this type of insurance. In most cases, you’ll be reimbursed based on your car’s actual cash value (ACV), which your insurance company will determine.

Collision Coverage

As the name suggests, collision insurance is designed to cover your vehicle after an accident. It will pay for your vehicle’s repairs in an accident that you cause, and in most cases, you’ll be compensated for repairs based on your car’s ACV.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage can be a lifesaver if another driver hits you and doesn’t have auto insurance or enough coverage to pay for your losses. Uninsured motorist insurance also covers hit-and-run accidents. At least $100,000 in coverage will provide adequate protection in most cases.

Cost of Car Insurance in Delaware

Car insurance costs vary by state. According to 2019 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average cost of auto insurance in Delaware is $1,440.58 per year, which is about 26 percent higher than the U.S. average.

However, your car insurance premium will depend on the type of coverage and the amount of coverage you buy. In Delaware, the average premium for a minimum coverage policy is $819.36 per year. If you want physical damage coverage, you’ll pay an average of $539.48 per year for collision insurance and $221.94 per year for comprehensive insurance.

TIP

Car insurance rates are personalized. Before you purchase a policy, get a few quotes and compare them to find the lowest rate for your situation and insurance needs.

In addition, car insurance companies are allowed to charge different rates. We found Delaware car insurance policies that cost as little as $970 per year and as much as $2,192 per year. Learn how to find the cheapest car insurance coverage, whether you have a clean driving history or not.

Providers in Delaware

There are dozens of car insurance companies that sell policies to Delaware drivers. Here are some of the providers you might consider:

  • Allstate
  • Amica
  • Dairyland
  • Farm Bureau
  • Farmers
  • GEICO
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Consider not only premiums, but also customer service, average time responding to claims, and other non-monetary factors.

How to Lower Your Car Insurance Premium in Delaware

  1. Get discounts. Take advantage of any auto insurance discounts that your car insurance company offers, such as taking a defensive driving course, maintaining a clean driving record, and paying your premium in full.
  2. Bundle your insurance. Consider bundling your auto insurance with your home, condo, or renters insurance policy for a discount on your premium. Some insurers also have bundling deals with life insurance policies.
  3. Raise your deductible. Raising your deductibles can lower your insurance premium, but make sure you can afford the higher deductible in the event of a claim.
  4. Lower your limits. You can lower your coverage limits to save money. The more coverage you purchase, the more your policy will cost.

Proof of Car Insurance in Delaware

Having car insurance is not enough to satisfy the legal requirements in Delaware. You also need to carry proof of liability insurance with you at all times. If you are caught driving without proof of insurance in Delaware, the penalties may include a fine between $1,500 and $2,000, and license suspension for up to six months.

In Delaware, you’re allowed to carry physical or digital proof of insurance (whichever you prefer). Most insurance companies provide electronic proof of insurance through a mobile app. Alternatively, you should be able to access a digital ID card through your customer portal.

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.

Fault System

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.

Uninsured Motorists

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.

DUI Laws

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.

NOTE

You can choose to cancel your car insurance policy at any time, even if it’s the middle of your policy period. Some insurance carriers charge cancellation fees, so ask an agent about penalty fees before you switch providers or terminate your coverage.

Self-Insurance

In Delaware, self-insurance is allowed if you have more than 15 vehicles registered under your name. Instead of purchasing 15 separate auto insurance policies, you may post a bond of at least $130,000.

Car Inspection Requirements

Typically, drivers in Delaware are required to have their vehicles inspected every two years, and up to 90 days before the registration expiration date.7 Additionally, vehicles must be inspected if they are being titled and registered in Delaware for the first time. Visit one of the four DMV branches in the state to get your car inspected; see below for the DMV contact information.

SR-22s

SR-22s are not required in Delaware. In other states, this type of certificate proves that you carry the minimum amount of car insurance in your state, and is often required for high-risk drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence, driving without insurance, or causing serious accidents.

Defensive Driving

Defensive driving courses aren’t required in Delaware, but they are available in-person and online. These courses teach drivers how to drive safely and avoid hazards on the road. Delaware drivers who complete approved defensive driving courses may receive 10 to 15 percent discounts on their car insurance, valid for three years.

Accident Reporting Requirements

In Delaware, you are required to file a police report following a car accident if it involves more than $500 in bodily injuries, property damage, or fatalities. Report this type of crash right away; otherwise, you could face a fine of $25 to $75 for a first offense, and up to $95 for subsequent offenses.

Price Discrimination

Delaware insurance companies are allowed to factor your age and credit score into your auto insurance premium. That means women and drivers with excellent credit will pay the lowest rates.

When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?

Your car may be declared a total loss if it’s damaged in a covered claim and meets the following criteria:

  • The vehicle cannot be safely repaired.
  • The cost of repairs would exceed the vehicle’s estimated value.
  • The damage meets the state’s total loss guidelines.

In Delaware, your car is declared a total loss based on the total loss formula (TLF). The TLF is equal to the market value of your car, minus the salvage value. If the cost of repairs for your vehicle is higher than the TLF, your car insurance provider is allowed to declare your vehicle a total loss.

Contact Information

At this point, you should have a solid understanding of the insurance laws and other regulations in the state of Delaware. If you need to get in touch with someone from the state insurance department or the DMV, here is the information you’ll need.

State Car Registration Information

  1. Get the minimum insurance required.
  2. Get your car inspected.
  3. Call the DMV in your area to set up an appointment.
    1. Delaware City: 302-326-5000
    2. Greater Wilmington area: 302-434-3200
    3. Dover: 302-744-2500
    4. Georgetown: 302-853-1000
  4. Visit the office and bring your driver’s license, a copy of your insurance card, an inspection certificate, a bill of sale, and an odometer statement.

The exact process for registering your vehicle in Delaware depends on where you purchased the car (dealership vs. private party) and whether the car is being retitled from out of state.

How to Get a Copy of Your Car Title in Delaware

  1. Print and fill out this duplicate car title form: https://www.dmv.de.gov/forms/veh_serv_forms/pdfs/ve_frm_mv213.pdf.
  2. Have the form notarized.
  3. Send the completed form with a $50 payment to this address:
    • State of Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles
    • P.O. Box 698
    • Dover, DE 19903

How to Contact Delaware’s Insurance Department

  • Phone number: 302-674-7300
  • Mailing address:
    • 1351 W. North St., Suite 101
    • Dover, DE 19904
  • URL: https://delaware.gov/contact/

Cost of Car Repairs in Delaware

If you are in a car accident in Delaware, expect to pay slightly more for repairs than the national average. Data shows that the average cost of car repairs in Delaware is $389.99 for parts and labor, which is 2 percent higher than the U.S. national average. Of that cost, $146.71 goes toward labor and $243.28 goes toward parts.

Crime and Fatalities in Delaware

Overall, Delaware is a safe state with a low crime rate, but be aware of potential risks. Generally speaking, areas with high crime rates have higher car insurance costs.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Fortunately, motor vehicle thefts are uncommon in Delaware. According to data from the FBI, there were roughly 169 car thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, which is 46 percent lower than the national average. However, certain regions have higher car theft rates than others.

Metropolitan statistical area Rate of motor vehicle theft per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 213
Dover, DE 129
Salisbury, MD-DE 75

Fatalities

Delaware has a relatively low rate of traffic fatalities. In 2019, there were 132 fatal crashes in Delaware per 100 million vehicle miles traveled across the U.S.8 That’s about 436 percent less than the average U.S. traffic fatality rate.

Conclusion

Every state has different laws around car insurance and driving. Whether you’re a lifelong Delawarian or planning to move to the First State, you should understand these laws to avoid penalties and fines. Besides, knowing the law may help you drive more safely.

FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about car insurance in Delaware.

No, you don’t need to have car insurance in Delaware if you don’t own a registered vehicle. If you have a driver’s license but don’t own a car, there’s no need to purchase insurance. If you borrow a friend or family member’s car with their permission, their insurance policy will cover you.

If you need to rent a car in Delaware, it will probably come with liability insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. However, most rental car companies will provide higher liability limits for a fee. In addition, you should be able to purchase a damage waiver in case you get into an at-fault accident.

Most Delaware car insurance companies offer online quotes. Visit the provider’s website, then input some basic information about yourself, your vehicle, and your coverage needs.

Legally speaking, you don’t need a driver’s license in order to purchase car insurance in Delaware. However, it will be difficult to get a policy without one. Most insurance companies require a valid driver’s license number to finalize a car insurance policy, so you may have to use someone else listed on your insurance policy.

Citations

  1. The Instant Insurance Guide: Auto. Delaware Department of Insurance. (2018).
    https://insurance.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2018/03/Auto-Insurance-Guide-2018.pdf

  2. One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf

  3. DELAWARE DUI LAWS & DRUNK DRIVING PENALTIES. Drinkdriving.org.
    https://www.dui-usa.drinkdriving.org/Delaware_dui_drunkdriving_laws.php

  4. TITLE 21. Government of Delaware.
    http://delcode.delaware.gov/title21/c041/sc09/index.html

  5. How Do Teens Get a License in Delaware? Delaware Office of Highway Safety. (2010).
    https://ohs.delaware.gov/pdfs/PDFs/GDL/OHS_GDL_Brochure.pdf

  6. Teen and Novice Drivers. Governors Highway Safety Administration.
    https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Teen%20and%20Novice%20Drivers?state=Delaware

  7. Vehicle Services FAQ’s. Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles.
    https://dmv.de.gov/VehicleServices/faqs/index.shtml?dc=ve_faqs_inspection

  8. Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state