Costly car repairs and a high percentage of uninsured drivers push the typical monthly car insurance premium in Rhode Island to $50 over the national average — or $600 more a year. And while there’s nothing you can do to change those statistics, you could score a far cheaper rate simply by taking a half-hour to shop around.
Insurers calculate their rates based on a number of factors, including your age, your driving record, your ZIP code, and the make and model of your vehicle. And each company weighs these factors a little differently. The only way to know which one is going to offer you the best deal is to get a handful of quotes and to compare the coverage options and rates.
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No one wants to pay more for car insurance than is necessary. The best way to determine whether your premium is fair is to shop around. Comparison shopping takes time, but can save you money and is the best way to find the best insurance company for you and your family.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Rhode Island
These companies are chosen based on their high ratings for financial solvency from A.M. Best and their scores from J.D. Power’s recent customer satisfaction surveys. A.M. Best is a top financial-strength rating agency that measures a company’s long-term stability, and J.D. Power is a leading name in customer satisfaction reporting. These things should factor into your decision just as much as a low premium, if not more. No one wants an insurance company that drags its feet when it’s time to pay a claim or a rude claims representative.
The price differences among these companies is big. Progressive is easily the cheapest option at $1,656 a year, and Geico is $458 more. The latter ended up being more expensive because it requires you to buy coverage for medical payments and uninsured motorists. But even that is significantly cheaper than the $3,528 Allstate wants for minimum coverage. For that price, you could purchase significantly more coverage from Progressive.
Rhode Island’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Rhode Island’s minimum coverage is pretty average compared with the rest of the nation. Residents are required to carry at least $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, along with $25,000 of property damage liability coverage. You’ll often see this written as 25/50/25.
Why are Rhode Island’s insurance rates so high?
Rhode Island has three things working against it when it comes to car insurance premiums. The increased likelihood of collisions with uninsured drivers raises the risk that your insurance company will have to pay for damages, even if you weren’t at fault, so insurance companies take this into account. If Rhode Island’s new insurance verification system does its job in reducing the number of uninsured motorists on the road, this issue may abate.
Additionally, Rhode Island has some of the nation’s highest car repair costs. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) claims this results from laws in Rhode Island that limit insurers’ ability to check the power of the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island (ABARI). This has enabled the auto body shops to raise their costs significantly, and the insurance companies have no choice but to comply. Insurers pass the high cost of repairs down to you, resulting in bigger premiums.
The third factor that contributes to the state’s high car insurance rates is that it has the second-highest population density in the nation, second only to New Jersey. This raises rates because urban areas have more insurance claims. Rhode Islanders see some of the fewest stolen vehicles of any state in the country, but there’s still an increased risk of accidents when you have so many drivers on the roads. If you live in a rural area of the state, you may see your rates fall from the state average to reflect the smaller chance of an accident.
Should you have more than minimum coverage?
Paying a little extra for good car insurance can save you a ton of money down the road. Consider these facts: On average, a driver gets into a car accident once every 17.9 years. The average cost of a disabling injury is $93,800, and that’s not considering what you might have to pay in property damages or if you injure multiple people.
Say that you have the minimum coverage, and you cause an accident that seriously injures another driver, which is about $50,000 in damages. Your insurance will cover only half of that, and you’re likely to end up being sued and draining your savings to pay for the rest. Upgrading your coverage to double the state minimum would cost only $78 more a year with Progressive — that’s just $6.50 more per month. And then in the accident scenario above, you wouldn’t have to pay a dime out of pocket. That peace of mind might be worth paying for.
Do you need uninsured motorist coverage?
You may want to consider purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 15 percent of Rhode Island drivers don’t have insurance and that’s a huge risk for you. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you collide with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or if you’re involved with a hit-and-run driver. With this coverage, you don’t end up paying for the damages out of pocket. Underinsured motorist coverage goes right along with this and covers the remainder of the damages if the at-fault driver’s insurance limits aren’t high enough, which is often the case if they have only minimum coverage.
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Do you need collision and comprehensive insurance?
If you have a lease or loan on your vehicle, your lender will likely require you to purchase collision and comprehensive protection. This covers repairs to your vehicle, regardless of whether you were at fault. Collision coverage deals primarily with accidents involving another vehicle and comprehensive protection covers things like theft, vandalism and natural disasters.
Even if your lender doesn’t require this type of coverage, it’s often worth the investment because car repair costs can quickly drain a bank account, especially in a state like Rhode Island where repairs already cost far more than the national average.
What is no-fault insurance?
This form of insurance pays for your medical bills and other bills from an accident, regardless of who caused it. Rhode Island is not a no-fault state.
What happens if you drive uninsured?
The high number of uninsured Rhode Island drivers led the state to create the Rhode Island Insurance Verification System, or the RIIVS for short. This system matches car insurance policies to actively registered vehicles. Any registered vehicle that fails to match an existing insurance policy for three consecutive months will be sent a Request for Insurance Verification notice in the mail.
Failure to comply with this notice will result in your registration being revoked. Until you purchase insurance and pay the $251.50 reinstatement fee, you won’t be able to renew your registration or your driver’s license.
Do you need SR-22 insurance?
If you have been caught driving uninsured, if you have multiple traffic violations or if you have a DUI, you may be required to get SR-22 insurance. You can get SR-22 insurance via your regular car insurance agent. Your agency should be able to fill out the paperwork and file the policy on your behalf. It is often quite expensive to get this paperwork completed. Once your violations have dropped off your record, you will be able to drop the SR-22 insurance.
Shop Around: You Might Be Surprised to Find Something Better
Your risk of getting into an accident isn’t all that insurers care about; they also worry about you leaving them for another company. They have special algorithms designed to measure the likelihood of this by looking at your credit score, shopping habits and even your social media pages. This data tells them how likely you are to shop for a better rate. If they determine you’re unlikely to shop around, they raise your rates just enough not to alarm you — a strategy called “price optimization.”
You would think staying loyal would earn you a discount, but it may cost you instead. If insurers believe you’re complacent, they’ll raise your rates, expecting you won’t realize you’re paying more than you have to. On the other hand, people who frequently shop around are likely to get more competitive rates because their current insurer wants to hang onto their business. That’s why it’s best to shop around at least every year or two. The more you hunt for quotes, the harder your company has to try to keep you.
Rhode Island is one of the few states that has taken a stand against price optimization. In 2015, the insurance commissioner issued a bulletin stating that any insurer doing business in Rhode Island must remove non-risk-related factors from its premium algorithms within 60 days because this is in violation of state law that requires rates to not be “excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.” If you last purchased a policy before November 2015, you may want to take some time to look for a new policy to make sure your rates accurately reflect you as a driver and not your shopping habits.
If you are looking for new insurance, your circumstances could affect your policy. For example, if you or someone else on your policy is a new driver, you’re going to face higher-than-usual insurance rates simply because that driver’s ability and track record is unknown. Of course, over time, those rates will likely begin to drop, especially if you are a good driver. Many insurance agencies offer good driver discounts, so it pays to keep your record clean.
If you have a low credit score in the 580 to 669 range, you may have trouble getting a low insurance rate. This is because studies have shown that drivers in this demographic file larger claims, making them riskier to insure. However, like with new drivers, if you keep your record clean, you may qualify for a good driver discount despite your low credit score.
Best Car Insurance in Rhode Island
- Liberty Mutual
The only way to find the best car insurance is to get quotes and to compare rates and coverage limits. Make sure that you consider purchasing more than the minimum coverage. It will cost only a little more each month (sometimes it actually costs less!) and if you get into an accident, you’ll be extremely grateful to have the extra protection. Go get your quotes!