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Published: April 21, 2022Last updated: October 20, 2022

Guide to Car Insurance in Rhode Island

Liability coverage is the only required car insurance in the smallest state.

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All of Rhode Island’s 761,046 licensed drivers need liability coverage, which includes bodily injury and property damage liability. Despite the minimal requirements, Rhode Island comes in seventh of the most expensive states for car insurance, with average prices 23 percent higher than the rest of the country. However, with the right knowledge, you can save money on car insurance in Rhode Island and avoid costly accidents, tickets, and violations.

Minimum Car Insurance in Rhode Island

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,0001

How Much Coverage to Get

While $100,000 of liability coverage is a start, it may not be enough to cover the injuries and damages you might cause in an accident. Plus, it doesn’t apply to you and your passengers’ injuries and damages. For that, you’ll need collision coverage and medical payments coverage.

Your car could also incur damage from events other than collisions, like auto theft, vandalism, hail, and flooding. To get those repairs covered, you’ll need comprehensive coverage. For both collision and comprehensive coverage, the limit is your car’s actual market value (AMV).

Buy as much liability coverage as you can afford; the ceiling is $500,000. You’ll also want to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in case you get into an accident with someone who lacks insurance or limits high enough to pay for your losses.

Average Rates of Auto Insurance in Rhode Island

On average, car insurance in Rhode Island costs $1,382.64, nearly a quarter more than the rest of the U.S. That breaks down to $918.20 for liability coverage, $491.19 for collision coverage, and $141.03 for comprehensive coverage, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

However, the average car insurance price depends on many factors, including your age and your driving record. Expect to pay anywhere from $593 to $9,694 annually for car insurance, with costs for teens at the high end. Auto insurance rates will also be higher for drivers with a DUI than for those with a clean driving record.

Car Insurance Companies in Rhode Island

Drivers in Rhode Island can choose from the following insurers:

  • Allstate
  • Amica
  • California Casualty
  • GEICO
  • MetLife
  • National Grange Mutual
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • Quincy Mutual
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Get a car insurance quote from more than one company. If you are the parent of a teen driver, check out the best auto insurance for teens.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance

  • Ask your agent for discounts that apply to you. You can save money with many companies by taking a driver training course, enrolling in paperless billing, or even driving fewer miles.
  • Lower your limits. The cheapest option would be minimum coverage, but that might cost you more down the line if you cause an accident.
  • Drop unnecessary coverages. For example, you could drop comprehensive coverage on an old car, or collision coverage on a car in storage. Technically, all you need in Rhode Island is liability coverage, which includes property damage and bodily injury liability.
  • Bundle your insurance. If you have multiple cars or multiple insurance policies, combine them under one provider to save money. Many providers offer loyalty discounts. Again, ask your insurance agent for ways to save; they’ll be happy to help you.

CheckNOTE

If you purchased insurance from an insurance broker, contact someone from your insurance company directly to explore ways to lower your premium. Your broker does not represent the company, so they will not be able to recommend discounts.

What Happens if You Drive Without Insurance?

If you are caught driving without electronic or physical proof of insurance in Rhode Island, you could face fines and a license and registration suspension.

Penalty First offense Second offense Third and subsequent offenses
Fine $100-$500 $500 $1,000
License suspension (in months) 3 6 12
Registration suspension (in months) 3 6 12
Reinstatement fee $30-$50 $30-$50 $30-$502

Rhode Island State Driving Laws

At-Fault System

Like most states, Rhode Island has an at-fault insurance system, which means that if someone causes a car accident, they are responsible for the other party’s injury and property damage losses, as well as their own. However, regardless of their negligence level, accident victims can sue for damages. That even applies to people who were found to be more than 50 percent at fault, so this is an example of pure comparative negligence law.

Drivers Without Insurance

While Rhode Island doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage, we highly recommend you get it anyway. Why? Because 17 percent of the state’s drivers lack insurance, a rate 24 percent higher than the national average.3

That number means that, at any given point, an estimated 125,000 people are driving in Rhode Island without insurance. That’s a lot for a state only 1,241 square miles in size!4

If someone driving without insurance hits your car, how will you pay for your injuries and damages? That’s where uninsured motorist coverage comes in, covering accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers as well as hit-and-runs. If someone hits your car without insurance and you lack uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll have to sue the person for damages, which will be a costly process, and the damages money may never materialize.

CheckTIP

If you have multiple cars with uninsured motorist coverage, you can stack limits. Multiply your number of cars with your uninsured motorist limit to find your new limit per car.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Rhode Island

Penalty First offense Second offense within a 5-year period Third or subsequent offense within a 5- to 10-year period
Fine BAC 0.1%-0.15%: $100-$300

BAC over 0.15%: $100-$400

BAC 0.1%-0.15%: $400

BAC over 0.15%: $1,000 minimum

BAC 0.1%-0.15% within a 5-year period: $400

BAC over 0.15% within a 10-year period: $1,000-$5,000

Public community restitution (in hours) 10-60 Not required Not required
Imprisonment 1 year maximum BAC 0.1%-0.15%: 10 days to 1 year

BAC over 0.15%: 6 months to 1 year

BAC 0.1%-0.15% within a 5-year period: 1-3 years

BAC over 0.15% within a 10-year period: 3-5 years

License suspension 180 days BAC 0.1%-0.15%: 1-2 years

BAC over 0.15%: 2 years minimum

BAC 0.1%-0.15% within a 5-year period: 2-3 years

BAC over 0.15% within a 10-year period: 3 years

Education/treatment Special course on DUIs (at judge’s discretion) Drug and alcohol treatment Drug and alcohol treatment
Ignition interlock requirement At judge’s discretion Yes Yes

Seat Belt Laws

Everyone age 8 and older must wear seat belts in all seats in Rhode Island. Police can stop you for violating this law alone, as it falls under primary enforcement.

Distracted Driving Laws

All drivers are banned from using handheld electronic devices while driving. Much like the seat belt law, Rhode Island’s distracted driving law is under primary enforcement. See below for the penalties for texting and driving.

Penalty First offense Second offense Third and subsequent offenses
Fine $100 $150 $250
License suspension (in months) 1 3 6

Teen Driving Laws in Rhode Island

Type of license Curfew Supervision Passengers
Limited instruction permit No restrictions Driver at least 21 with at least 5 years of licensure in front passenger seat at all times No restrictions
Limited provisional license Limited driving privileges 1-5 a.m. Driver at least 21 or older with at least 5 years of licensure in front seat, with some exceptions:

  • 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. when driving to or from work, as part of a volunteer fire department or rescue squad, or for an emergency medical service activity
  • 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. when driving between home and school-sponsored athletic activity that the school didn’t provide transportation for
First 12 months: No more than 1 passenger under 21, except for immediate family/household members

After first year: No restrictions

Full operator’s license No restrictions No restrictions No restrictions5

How Long You Have to File Claims

Following a car accident, Rhode Island gives you 10 years to file property damage claims, which is more than twice as long as the national average. However, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is on par with the U.S. average at three years. If you miss either of these windows, your insurance provider is not required to give you auto coverage.

Cancellation and Non-Renewal

Since Rhode Island requires car insurance for all vehicles on public roads, auto insurance companies can’t just cancel your coverage without telling you. Rather, if they want to cancel your coverage mid-term, they must give you 30 days’ notice before your policy expires. If companies don’t want to renew your coverage at the end of its term, they must notify you within 60 days of the expiration date.

Self-Insurance

Is it possible to be your own auto insurance provider? In Rhode Island, the answer is yes, for liability coverage only. However, you’ll need the following in order to qualify:

  • More than 25 vehicles
  • At least $100,000 in collateral

Inspection Requirements

Safety and emissions inspections are required for vehicles weighing 8,500 pounds or less every two years if their vehicle identification number (VIN) ends in even numbers, or every year if their VIN ends in odd numbers. For new vehicles, you won’t need to complete the first inspection for two years after your purchase date or until you reach 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Inspection fees range from $23.50 to $39.6 Find an inspection station near you at https://dmv.ri.gov/registrations-plates-titles/inspections-emissions/inspection-stations-and-locations.

SR-22s

As of July 2018, Rhode Island no longer requires SR-22 certificates, proof of minimum insurance. This is good news for high-risk drivers who were previously obligated to file SR-22s, since insurance companies charge them more.

Defensive Driving

Defensive driving classes in Rhode Island are six hours long and cost $165. Reserve a class online at https://ridmvreservations.ri.gov.

Suing Thresholds

There’s no serious injury or monetary threshold to meet to file a civil lawsuit following a car accident in Rhode Island. You can sue for both economic and non-economic damages, including lost wages, medical expenses, pain, suffering, and anxiety. If you were at fault at all in the accident, your compensation would be reduced by your degree of fault.

Accident Reporting Laws

In Rhode Island, you’re legally required to report any car accidents that result in injury, property damage, or death worth over $1,000 within 21 days. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $500.

Factors That Impact the Cost of Insurance

Credit scores are a factor that insurance providers in Rhode Island may take into account when determining premiums. That means people with poor credit scores will see higher rates. Companies are also allowed to consider gender, so men will pay more in Rhode Island as well.

Total Loss Threshold

In Rhode Island, a car is declared a total loss if its salvage value is less than the cost of repairs. In this case, the vehicle wouldn’t be repaired, but would be declared a total loss. Your insurance company would reimburse you for your vehicle’s actual market value if you have comprehensive coverage.

Rhode Island Contact Information for Drivers

How to Register Your Car in Rhode Island

  1. Print and fill out the application from https://dmv.ri.gov/registrations-plates-titles/registration/new-registration.
  2. Bring all of the documents listed on pages 3 and 4 of the application.
  3. Determine your fee based on the below chart.
Transaction type Itemized fee Total fee minimum
Commercial new Based on vehicle weight, prorated by date: $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge fee per year $17.50
Commercial renewal (1 year) Based on vehicle weight: $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge fee per year $17.50
Commercial vanity renewal (1 year) Based on vehicle weight: $120, $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge fee per year $137.50
Duplicate $19.50 $19.50
Farm plate $18.50, $10 DOT surcharge $19.50
Motorcycle new Prorated by date: $2.50, $13 DOT surcharge fee $15.50
Motorcycle renewal (2 years) $41.50, $13 DOT surcharge fee $54.50
Motorcycle vanity renewal (2 years) $41.50, $68, $13 DOT surcharge fee $122.50
Passenger new Based on vehicle weight, prorated by date: $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge per year $17.50
Passenger renewal (2 years) Based on vehicle weight: $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge per year $17.50
Passenger vanity renewal (2 years) Based on vehicle weight: $120, $2.50, $15 DOT surcharge per year $137.50
Plate change (1 plate) $22.50 $22.50
Plate change (2-way) $42.50 $42.50
Temporary registration $12.50 $12.50
Trailer registration (3,000 pounds or less) $9 (per year), $2.50, DOT surcharge equal to half of the registration fee for the trailer $11.50
Trailer registration (over 3,000 pounds) Based on vehicle weight, prorated by date: $2.50 trailer fee calculation, DOT surcharge equal to half of the registration fee for the trailer $2.50
Update registration $7.50 $7.50

You can then complete the registration in person, online, or by mail.

  • To complete the registration in person, you can find find a Division of Motor Vehicles location at https://dmv.ri.gov/locations-hours. Make a reservation online before your visit via https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/real-id/make-reservation.
  • You can renew your registration online at https://www.ri.gov/DMV/registration_renewal/.
  • You can mail in the required application, the form, and a blank check to this address:
    • 600 New London Ave.
    • Cranston, RI 02920

All forms must be notarized and all documents must be original. Make out your check to the Rhode Island DMV. Otherwise, you can use a credit card by providing your credit card number, CVV code, the name on the card, and the expiration date.

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title

  1. Fill out the form at https://dmv.ri.gov/registrations-plates-titles/titles.
  2. Get the form notarized.
  3. Enclose a $52.50 payment.
  4. Send the form and payment to this address:
    • Division of Motor Vehicles Research and Title Office
    • 600 New London Ave.
    • Cranston, RI 02920

Insurance Department Contact Information

  • URL: https://dbr.ri.gov/questioncomplaints/
  • Email address: DBR.Insurance@dbr.ri.gov
  • Phone number: 401-462-9500
  • Mailing address:
    • 1511 Pontiac Ave.
    • Cranston, RI 02920

How Much Are Car Repairs in Rhode Island?

Car repairs in Rhode Island cost only 1 percent more than the national average at $387.61. Most of the cost goes into parts — $249.82, to be exact — while $137.79 pays for labor, according to a 2020 CarMD report.

Crime and Fatality Rates

Car Theft

While Rhode Island may have high uninsured driver and car insurance rates, it ranks the 11th lowest in the country in motor vehicle theft rates. In 2020, there were only 143 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, 72 percent less than the rest of the country. Surprisingly, the state’s only Metropolitan Statistical Area, the greater Providence area, had rates lower than the state average, at only 136 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau data.

Traffic Deaths

Rhode Island also has low rates of motor vehicle deaths, with 57 occurring for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That’s 1,142 percent less than the national average, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data.

Conclusion

Rhode Island is the smallest state. You only have to drive 48 miles north from its southernmost point to hit Massachusetts and 37 miles west from its easternmost point to hit Connecticut. Are you aware of Massachusetts auto insurance laws? You should be, as you’ll most likely be passing through the Bay state at some point or another.

But if you want to learn more about Rhode Island specifically, read our FAQs below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is car insurance cheaper in Rhode Island or Massachusetts?

Car insurance is cheaper in Massachusetts than in Rhode Island. As of the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of car insurance in Rhode Island was $1,382.64, which is 23 percent higher than the national average. In Massachusetts, it was $1,182.69, which is 9 percent higher than the national average.

Why is car insurance so expensive in Rhode Island?

Car insurance is so expensive in Rhode Island for many reasons, including the following:

  • As a coastal state, it carries a greater risk of glass damage and other weather-related damages due to floods and hurricanes.
  • Rhode Island’s minimum liability limits of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 are higher than the national averages.
  • Rhode Island ranks No. 2 in the country for population density, after New Jersey. There are 1,061 people per mile. This density means a greater risk of car accidents, car theft, vandalism, and other incidents that lead to claims.
  • The state’s average car repair costs are slightly higher than the national average. This is partly due to a bill that lets auto body shops charge markups on repairs, which the American Property Casualty Insurance Association spoke out against publicly.
  • According to 2020 estimates from the Insurance Research Council, 17 percent of Rhode Island drivers lack insurance, which makes insurance more expensive for everybody else, as they are more likely to buy and pay higher limits for uninsured motorist coverage.

What year was car insurance made mandatory in Rhode Island?

Car insurance was made mandatory in Rhode Island in 1993, according to the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

Who has the best cheap car insurance in Rhode Island?

These are the companies with the best cheap car insurance in Rhode Island:

  • Allstate
  • Amica
  • GEICO
  • MetLife
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • Quincy Mutual
  • Travelers

Citations

  1. CONSUMERS GUIDE TO AUTO INSURANCE. THE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS REGULATION.
    https://dbr.ri.gov/sites/g/files/xkgbur696/files/documents/divisions/insurance/property_casualty/com_guide-auto_insur.PDF

  2. Title 31 Motor and Other Vehicles Chapter 47 Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. Rhode Island Governement. (2021, Jul 1).
    http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE31/31-47/31-47-9.htm

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

  4. Fun facts & trivia. Rhode Island Government. (2022).
    https://www.ri.gov/facts/trivia.php

  5. New License Permits. State of Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.
    https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/permits-tests/new-license-permits

  6. RHODE ISLAND MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION/MAINTENANCE PROGRAM. State of Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles. (2018 Jul 25).
    https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-12/ri-dmv1-2018-06-25.pdf