Delaware’s auto repair costs are some of the most expensive in the nation, driving up car insurance premiums there 40 percent above the national average. But that doesn’t mean you can’t score a good deal. With as little as 30 minutes of comparison shopping, you could save a bundle on your annual premium.
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Delaware’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Delaware’s liability coverage minimums are far lower than the national average. Residents are required to carry just $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $30,000 per accident, plus $10,000 of property damage liability. You may see this written as $15,000/$30,000/$10,000. This coverage pays for damages to another driver, their passengers and their property when you are found to be at fault in the accident.
Delaware is one of the few states that also requires personal injury protection, or PIP, with the same $15,000/$30,000 minimums as the liability coverage. PIP pays for medical bills, lost wages and funeral costs, among other things. It is a no-fault coverage, meaning you can use it to cover your medical expenses even if you were at fault in the accident, and you can usually get the money from your insurance company much quicker because you don’t have to wait for a determination of who was at fault or file lawsuits.
How do insurers determine their rates?
Insurance premiums depend on many factors, so there’s no way to predict which company is going to offer you the most competitive rates. Insurers look at your driving record, vehicle make and model, address, age, education level and more when calculating your rates. Every company has its own algorithm that weighs these factors differently, so the only way to find the best deal is to get a handful of quotes and compare their rates. The more quotes you get, the better. You’ll want at least five or six to make a good comparison.
How long does the quote process take?
You should be able to get most quotes online within five minutes. This is the best way to go because online quotes are saved, so if you want to go back later and tinker with coverage limits, you can do so. If you must call the insurance company, expect the process to take about 15 minutes. Most of the information you need to give insurers will be at the front of your brain, but if you don’t know your average annual mileage or the details of any accidents you may have had over the past five years, get that information together before getting started.
What criteria do you look at when choosing insurance companies to compare?
A good insurer must be financially stable enough to pay claims when you need it to, and its customer service should be good, not causing you headaches. After all, filing a claim is stressful enough. Look for companies that have received top ratings from A.M. Best, a top rating agency for companies’ financial strength, and high scores from J.D. Power, a global leader in customer satisfaction surveys. Abiding by these two criteria is a surefire way to find a solid auto insurer.
Why are Delaware’s rates so high?
Delaware’s insurance premiums come in nearly 40 percent above the national average. This is partly because it has a higher population density than many states, with more people living close together, which increases the chances of accidents, theft and vandalism. It also tends to raise the costs of medical care and auto repairs, which means insurance companies must pay out more for a claim in Delaware than they would in Nebraska, for example. In fact, one study found that Delaware’s auto repair costs rank as the third most expensive in the nation.
Delaware’s uninsured drivers may also be contributing to the high rates. Nearly 12 percent of drivers are uninsured, which isn’t bad compared with some states (over 25 percent of Florida’s drivers are uninsured), but it still hurts insurance rates. When insurance companies know there’s a chance they could get stuck paying for damages another driver caused, they raise your rates to reflect that risk.
Is Delaware a no-fault state?
Delaware is a “fault” state, so if you cause a car accident, you will be responsible for covering any resulting damages. If you are the victim in an accident, you will have the following options as a claimant: You can file a claim with your own insurance, file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
What is SR-22 auto insurance?
SR-22 is not actually an insurance policy. Instead, it refers to the SR-22 document, which is a certificate that proves that you carry the state’s legal minimum of vehicle liability insurance. It serves as a contract between an insurance company and a state government in which the insurer will notify the state if a policy is canceled. An SR-22 is a way for the government to monitor high-risk drivers.
What happens if you’re caught without insurance?
Driving uninsured will cost you a lot more than your auto insurance premiums would. A first offense will earn you a fine of at least $1,500, and your driving privileges will be suspended for six months. Repeat offenses within three years will get you a $3,000 fine on top of the suspension.
How do you reduce your insurance rates?
There are numerous factors that affect your premiums and there’s a lot you can do to adjust these factors in your favor. Most people aren’t going to do anything as drastic as moving to a cheaper ZIP code, but things like letting your insurance company monitor your driving and limiting your mileage can lead to big savings. You can also pay your premium in full, and most companies will offer you a discount for doing so.
Is going with cheap car insurance the best option?
Minimum coverage might seem like a good idea, but if you can afford to do so, it’s always better to go with higher coverage limits. Consider that the average driver will file an auto insurance claim every 17.9 years. The average cost of a disabling, nonfatal injury is $93,800, and that’s just for one person. If you injure multiple people, expect that cost to rise astronomically.
If you stick with the state minimum coverage and get into an accident that causes an $80,000 injury, for example, your insurance will cover $15,000, leaving you to pay the remaining $65,000 out of pocket. Raising your coverage limits to $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 would cost a bit extra each year, but it would save you $35,000 in the scenario above. However, even this would leave you with $30,000 to pay out of pocket, so you may want to consider even higher coverage limits. A few extra dollars on your monthly premiums may be worth the peace of mind.
What other coverage options are there?
Consider adding uninsured motorist coverage. This isn’t required by law, but it can save you quite a bit of money. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 12 percent of Delaware drivers don’t have insurance. If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, your insurance won’t pay for the damages unless you have uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage goes hand in hand with this. If the other driver has only minimum coverage, he or she may not have enough to pay for all the damages. Underinsured motorist coverage steps in and pays the remainder of the damages beyond the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
If you have a lease or loan on your vehicle, you may be required to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage, too. Comprehensive and collision pays for repairs to your vehicle. If you are still making car payments, chances are your lender will require you to carry these policies to make sure they get paid, even if something happens to your car. Collision coverage deals primarily with accidents involving another vehicle.
Wildlife collisions, vandalism, theft and natural disasters are all included under comprehensive coverage. Even if you aren’t required to buy vehicle protection, it’s not a bad idea to do so, especially if you have a newer car. Repair costs add up quickly and paying a few extra dollars per month is much easier than coming up with thousands of dollars to cover the damages after an accident.
What is the main takeaway?
Spending some time evaluating your car insurance is likely to save you a lot of money now, and if you do it on a regular basis, you can avoid becoming a victim of price optimization. Most of the time, you don’t even have to pick up the phone and the process takes no more than 10 minutes per quote. Go ahead, try it out on a few companies and compare the rates. Odds are, you’re going to find some savings.
Even If You’re Happy With Your Insurance, It’s Important to Shop for a New Policy Every Few Years
Your insurance premium cost depends not only on your risk profile but also your shopping habits. A technique known as price optimization has become increasingly common. Companies look at your credit score, online shopping habits and even your social media activity to determine how likely you are to stay loyal to your insurer, even after it starts raising your premium.
Unfortunately, loyalty is not rewarded. If insurers think you won’t shop for a better deal, they’ll charge you higher rates, and you’ll be none the wiser. Don’t be fooled by loyalty discounts. You may think they’re saving you money, but it’s just a ploy to keep you around. Sure, these discounts claim to cut 5 percent off your average premium, but what your insurance company didn’t tell you is it had already raised your rate 15 percent because its data found that you’re not likely to shop for a better deal. That means you’re still paying 10 percent more than you have to.
Shop for a new policy every year or two to ensure your quotes are accurately reflecting your risk – not your shopping habits. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it makes a huge difference. If companies know you’ll go with whoever offers you the best price, they’ll offer more competitive rates to secure your business. After all, it’s better for their bottom line to offer you a lower rate and keep you as a customer than to lose you to a competitor.
When you’re searching for a new policy, be on the lookout for any discounts that you may qualify for. If you’re a young driver under the age of 25, you can submit proof of good grades for a student discount or enroll in a defense driving course to receive a better quote. Good drivers who go accident-free or violation-free for a few years may be rewarded with better rates. For those with bad credit, it’s especially important to shop around. Your efforts can pay off here. You may choose to go with a company that specializes in insuring high-risk drivers because you’ll likely find better rates with them than other insurance companies.
In October 2015, Delaware joined a number of states that have banned price optimization within their borders. The state issued a bulletin requiring all insurers to remove non-risk-related factors from their pricing algorithms by mid-2016, arguing that they’re discriminatory and in violation of state laws. If you last purchased auto insurance before July 2016, you may want to look around for a new policy to make sure your rate reflects your level of risk as a driver and not your shopping habits.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Delaware
- State Farm
Compare Affordable Car Insurance Rates in Delaware