state of Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it still has over 400 miles of beaches to explore, with many beautiful lighthouses and seaside colonial towns. Providence is one of the oldest standing cities in the country, with plenty of rich history to enjoy. With so much to explore in such a small space, you don’t want to set out without insurance coverage.

Unfortunately for Rhode Island residents, average car insurance rates are higher than in most of the country. This is partly because of the large urban population across the state. (More congestion leads to more claims.) But insurance companies also point to the high costs of vehicle repairs in Rhode Island compared to the rest of the country.

The good news is that, with a little leg work, you can still find a cheap car insurance policy that protects you financially. Thanks to the internet, comparing quotes has never been easier - and lets you compare rates from multiple insurance companies all from the comfort of your home. You only need to answer a few basic questions about yourself and the vehicle you want to insure, and within moments you’ll see rates from insurers operating in your area.

But before you start shopping, you need to figure out the right level of coverage. So what are the state’s legal minimums? And what other policies should you consider? Let’s explore.

Rhode Island Car Insurance Laws

Car insurance laws in Rhode Island require all motorists to carry a car insurance policy with the following minimums:

Liability Coverage

  • $25,000 Bodily Injury Liability per person
  • $50,000 Bodily Injury Liability per accident
  • $25,000 Property Damage Liability per accident

Your Bodily Injury policy will pay for medical expenses and funeral costs, as well as economic losses like lost wages, as a result of injuries you are liable for in an at-fault accident. Property Damage liability coverage will pay to repair or replace vehicles and structures damaged in an at-fault accident. Liability coverage isn’t meant to protect you or the people in your vehicle - it’s only meant to help you meet your financial responsibility to other people in the event of an accident.

It’s also worth noting that in a serious car wreck, you could easily exceed your property damage and bodily injury limits. Emergency medical care is very expensive (a ride in an ambulance costs more than a plane ticket across the world), and many cars are valued at over twice the minimum limit of your property damage policy. Raising the limits on your policy is a lot cheaper than the out of pocket costs of a car accident, so make sure you’re not underinsured!

Driving without insurance in Rhode Island

You are required to show proof of insurance in order to register your vehicle and must maintain it throughout your vehicle’s registration. If you’re unable to show proof of insurance in a traffic stop, you will face increasingly harsh penalties for every offense.

The first offense means a fine between $100-$500, as well as suspension of your license and registration for up to three months. The second offense means a fine of $500 and up to six months suspension of driving privileges. The third and all subsequent offenses mean you could pay up to $1000 and have your license revoked for a year. You will also be required to file for SR-22 insurance, sometimes for as long as three years.

This will put a huge spike in your already high car insurance premiums, on top of the serious risk of getting into a car accident with no protection. As much as car insurance might cost, it will cost a lot more to go without it.

Optional Policies to Consider

While your Liability Coverage will keep you legal to drive, it won’t do anything to help you deal with the cost of injuries to you or your passengers, nor will it help you repair your vehicle. If you can’t afford any sudden expenses, then you need to consider adding additional protection.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you the same way another driver’s liability policy would in the event you’re in an accident with an uninsured motorist. It can also combine with an underinsured motorist liability policy to pay the difference between their maximum limit and the cost of your medical care.

Your insurance company must offer you an Uninsured Motorist Policy with limits equal to your Bodily Injury and Property Damage limits, but you may choose to reject them. This policy is usually fairly cheap, and when you need to make a claim, it doesn’t raise your rates as much as other claims would.

Comprehensive and Collision

Also known as “Full Coverage,” most lenders will require you to carry this policy as long as you’re still paying off your vehicle. However, even if your vehicle is paid off in full, it’s worth considering. Damage to your car may not seem like a big deal, but the better condition your car is in, the more it will be worth it when it’s time to sell it or trade it in. And if your vehicle is totaled, you may have a hard time coming up with the money to replace it.

Collision coverage will help you repair your vehicle if you’re in a car accident, no matter who is at fault. It will also help you repair your vehicle if you hit a stationary structure, like a fence or pole. Comprehensive coverage will pay for damages caused outside of collisions. This can include damage from hail, falling limbs, or a collision with a deer. It will also protect you from theft or vandalism.

Medical Payments

Also known as MedPay, this policy is designed to quickly reimburse you for any medical expenses related to your car crash. Although the limits are usually fairly low, it can be a big help if your health insurance has a high deductible, or if you need dental work or chiropractic care that wouldn’t be covered under your normal health insurance. This policy will cover you and your family members, no matter what vehicle they are in when they are injured. It will also cover you if you’re hit by a car as a pedestrian.

What determines your car insurance rates?

Car insurance companies use a combination of personal factors, vehicle information, and the level of coverage you opt for to set your premiums. While some of these factors are out of your control, such as your age, gender, and address, others (like your driving record and credit score) you can take steps to improve more immediately.

The kind of vehicle you drive and the amount you drive each year are also a major factor in calculating your premiums. Before you buy a car, find out how much it will cost to insure. Safety features like anti-lock brakes and air-bags will give you discounts, while cars that are more likely targets for theft make carrying comprehensive insurance more expensive.

While you can choose a car insurance policy with bare minimum coverage to save money each month, the reality is it’s a lot more expensive to get into an accident when you don’t have the protection you need. If you can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket after an accident, you can’t afford to skimp on insurance coverage.

Your rates are subject to change each time you renew. Things like speeding tickets and DUIs have a major impact on your premiums, while other things like a ticket for not wearing a seat belt will have a smaller impact. Either way, maintaining a clean driving record for as long as possible and taking defensive driving courses every few years will make sure you always get the best rates.

Finding Cheap Car Insurance

In order to find the cheapest car insurance that keeps you protected, you’ll need to compare rates from as many companies as possible. Every insurer uses different formulas to calculate their rates. Some target higher risk demographics, while others only want to ensure the drivers least likely to get into an accident. That means no single insurance company will have the lowest rates for everyone.

Once you’ve selected the level of coverage that feels right to you, you can use’s free quote comparison tool to view as many quotes as you’d like, with no obligation to buy. You’ll be able to take the time to carefully compare quotes without the pressure from an insurance agent trying to make a sale.

There are many discounts offered by insurance companies, and you should take advantage of as many of them as you qualify for. These can include discounts for safe driving, maintaining a good GPA, or bundling multiple policies, such as homeowner’s insurance. If you have more than one vehicle, you can also get a multi-car discount. Many employers offer discounted insurance rates with certain providers.

Once you’ve found an affordable insurance policy that leaves you protected, you can purchase your policy online and print out proof of insurance within minutes. Even if you already have coverage, taking the time to compare rates can save you hundreds of dollars a year.