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UPDATED: Oct 9, 2020
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Vehicle Honda Rav4
Uninsured Motorists 15.20%
Welcome to The Ocean State, better known as Rhode Island.
Known for its sandy shores and colonial towns, its educational institutions and gilded mansions, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States by land area. North to south, the state is only 48 miles, and east to west Rhode Island is even smaller, covering only 37 miles.
Given its size, Rhode Island has no counties. Instead, the state contains 39 municipalities, each having its own form of local government.
Rhode Island, one of the 13 original colonies, is also home to a lot of American firsts. Rhode Islanders were the first to take military action against Great Britain by sinking one of England’s ships, The Gaspee, in Narragansett Bay, located between Newport and Providence.
The sport of polo was played for the first time in the United States near Newport in 1876, and Rhode Island was home to the first National Lawn Tennis Championship in 1899 and an open golf tournament in 1895.
Newport, Rhode Island, also hosted the first circus in the United States in 1774.
The founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, established the first working model of democracy after he was banished from Plymouth, Massachusetts, because of his supposedly extreme views concerning freedom of speech and religion.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams publicly acknowledged Roger Williams as the originator of these concepts reflected in what would become the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Here’s a fun piece of Rhode Island trivia: Judge Darius Baker imposed the first jail sentence in the United States for speeding on August 28, 1904, in Newport.
If you’re exploring this great state by car, there may be something you haven’t considered lately: “Am I paying too much for car insurance?”
Consumers in Rhode Island paid an average of $5,003.36 for car insurance in 2018.
We know car insurance isn’t something you want to spend a lot of time on, so that’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide about car insurance in the great state of Rhode Island.
We’ve done the work for you so you don’t have to. Simply enter your ZIP code above to get started on your car insurance quote today.
Rhode Island Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
We know that researching insurance information for your state is hard work, right? That’s why we’ve created this guide: to help you navigate the insurance laws and costs in The Ocean State.
Read on to find more about how to understand what kind of insurance you need and the demands put on Rhode Island’s drivers.
Rhode Island Minimum Coverage
- Bodily Injury Liability Insurance: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability Insurance: $25,000
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
And remember, these are just minimum requirements. What type of insurance is best for you, your vehicles, and your family might be coverage beyond Rhode Island’s minimum requirements.
Forms of Financial Responsibility
Like most states, Rhode Island requires you to carry proof of insurance with you at all times while driving your car. You may be asked to provide evidence of your insurance coverage if you are:
- Registering your vehicle’s license and registration
- Stopped by a law enforcement officer
- Involved in an accident
Proof of insurance in Rhode Island consists of any paperwork that has been legally notarized and which bears your assigned vehicle identification number on it.
You can obtain proof of insurance from the Rhode Island DMV or through your insurance provider upon your purchase of a policy, usually in the form of a car insurance ID card.
Rhode Island General Law section 31-47-9 outlines the various offenses and fines for driving in The Ocean State without proof of insurance.
- For your first offense, you risk license/registration suspension for three months, as well as a fine between $100 and $500.
- For your second offense, you risk losing your license/registration for six months and paying a fine of a flat $500.
- From your third suspension onward, you risk losing your license/registration for a full year and paying a fine of $1,000.
Want to avoid that trouble? Don’t drive without both car insurance and legal proof that you actually have that car insurance.
You might be wondering: as a Rhode Islander, how much of my income can I expect to pay for car insurance?
Premiums as a Percentage of Income
DataUSA reports that Rhode Island households have a fairly high median household income at $63,870.
With average insurance premiums of $5,003.36 annually, Rhode Islanders pay an average of 7.83 percent of their income on car insurance premiums.
Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates in RI (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Rhode Island’s average insurance premiums have been rising slightly, but not substantially. The table below offers their findings for average total premiums in The Ocean State from 2011 to 2015.
If you’re interested in expanding your coverage, you’ll want to look into additional liability coverage.
The various types of additional coverage can help keep you and your bank account safer in the unfortunate case of a car accident. Before you go choosing what additional liability you may want, though, you’ll need to think about the loss ratios that might come along with it.
The table below details the loss ratios each additional form of liability coverage generates in the long-term.
|ADDITIONAL LIABILITY COVERAGE IN RHODE ISLAND||LOSS RATIO|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage||67.21|
|% of uninsured and rank||14.3% (15)|
Loss ratios describe the amount of financial security each provider and coverage type can offer a driver. Higher loss ratios reflect a company’s willingness to pay out on applicable claims but can also reflect that company’s wobbly financial standing. Comparatively, lower loss ratios mean that a company is more financially stable but perhaps less likely to pay out on claims.
Think about it this way: if a car insurance company pays out $65 in claims for every $100 it takes in in premiums, then it has a loss ratio of 65.
Typically, you’ll want to work with a car insurance provider and coverage type with a loss ratio between 60-80 percent. Our research shows that is the loss ratio sweet spot.
Add-Ons, Endorsements, and Riders
It’s good to know that a lot of car insurance providers offer some great add-on coverages that can help protect you, your family, and your pocketbook. You can explore additional, optional coverage by considering some of the add-ons below. Click on the available links to learn more:
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
- Pay-as-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
You might also want to check out personal injury protection (PIP), which is explained in the short video below.
Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in RI
Do men and women pay different amounts for car insurance?
You’ve likely heard that insurance companies discriminate on the basis of gender in calculating insurance premiums. To some extent, this is true. That’s why six states—California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina—have outlawed gender bias for car insurance premiums.
Though Rhode Island has yet to act on this legally, rates for men and women don’t differ greatly, except for teens. Young men can expect to pay significantly more than young women.
What is more significant than gender to car insurance providers in determining your premium? Age and marital status.
The following table provides the average annual car insurance premiums for Rhode Islanders of different demographics for the state’s top car insurers.
|COMPANY||DEMOGRAPHIC||AVERAGE ANNUAL RATE|
|Allstate||Single 17-year-old male||$8,211.70|
|Allstate||Single 17-year-old female||$6,951.89|
|Allstate||Single 25-year-old male||$4,314.24|
|Allstate||Single 25-year-old female||$4,181.73|
|Allstate||Married 60-year-old male||$4,138.80|
|Allstate||Married 35-year-old female||$3,991.81|
|Allstate||Married 60-year-old female||$3,965.46|
|Allstate||Married 35-year-old male||$3,919.97|
|GEICO||Single 17-year-old male||$13,683.07|
|GEICO||Single 17-year-old female||$10,460.06|
|GEICO||Single 25-year-old male||$3,624.88|
|GEICO||Single 25-year-old female||$3,471.31|
|GEICO||Married 35-year-old male||$3,435.27|
|GEICO||Married 60-year-old female||$3,435.27|
|GEICO||Married 60-year-old male||$3,358.93|
|GEICO||Married 35-year-old female||$3,352.25|
|Liberty Mutual||Single 17-year-old male||$15,000.77|
|Liberty Mutual||Single 17-year-old female||$9,610.11|
|Liberty Mutual||Single 25-year-old male||$5,397.88|
|Liberty Mutual||Married 35-year-old female||$3,967.26|
|Liberty Mutual||Married 35-year-old male||$3,967.26|
|Liberty Mutual||Single 25-year-old female||$3,967.26|
|Liberty Mutual||Married 60-year-old female||$3,781.20|
|Liberty Mutual||Married 60-year-old male||$3,781.20|
|Nationwide||Single 17-year-old male||$9,664.73|
|Nationwide||Single 17-year-old female||$7,505.22|
|Nationwide||Single 25-year-old male||$3,709.14|
|Nationwide||Single 25-year-old female||$3,412.17|
|Nationwide||Married 35-year-old male||$2,916.99|
|Nationwide||Married 35-year-old female||$2,870.60|
|Nationwide||Married 60-year-old male||$2,676.05|
|Nationwide||Married 60-year-old female||$2,522.14|
|Progressive||Single 17-year-old male||$13,361.63|
|Progressive||Single 17-year-old female||$11,882.34|
|Progressive||Single 25-year-old male||$3,307.02|
|Progressive||Single 25-year-old female||$3,245.10|
|Progressive||Married 35-year-old female||$2,657.85|
|Progressive||Married 35-year-old male||$2,523.06|
|Progressive||Married 60-year-old female||$2,442.97|
|Progressive||Married 60-year-old male||$2,428.75|
|Travelers||Single 17-year-old male||$27,457.38|
|Travelers||Single 17-year-old female||$17,367.38|
|Travelers||Single 25-year-old male||$1,922.42|
|Travelers||Single 25-year-old female||$1,729.94|
|Travelers||Married 60-year-old female||$1,712.33|
|Travelers||Married 60-year-old male||$1,702.69|
|Travelers||Married 35-year-old male||$1,701.83|
|Travelers||Married 35-year-old female||$1,681.61|
|USAA||Single 17-year-old male||$11,028.79|
|USAA||Single 17-year-old female||$9,649.96|
|USAA||Single 25-year-old male||$2,983.23|
|USAA||Single 25-year-old female||$2,842.49|
|USAA||Married 35-year-old female||$2,081.24|
|USAA||Married 35-year-old male||$2,057.69|
|USAA||Married 60-year-old female||$1,994.32|
|USAA||Married 60-year-old male||$1,954.09|
Clearly, car insurance for teen drivers can be expensive. 60-year-old motorists pay the cheapest rates out of all the age groups in our research.
But why do older drivers pay cheaper rates for car insurance? Research consistently shows that young drivers are not only inexperienced, but also that they may engage in risky driving behavior.
Statistics consistently show that drivers in their teens and twenties are more likely to be in a car accident, and thus they cost more for insurance providers to ensure.
Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code
Did you know that car insurance rates vary not only by what state you live in, but also by where you live in your state? Even in a small state like Rhode Island, this is true.
The lowest average rate by Rhode Island ZIP code is $3,908.01, found in 02842, or Middletown, a small suburb just outside of Newport.
The highest Rhode Island ZIP code for car insurance is 02907, an area on the southwest side of Providence, the state’s biggest city. Residents pay an average car insurance premium of $7,262.39 per year.
The searchable table below provides a breakdown of the average car insurance premiums by Rhode Island ZIP code.
|ZIP CODE||AVERAGE RATE|
As you can see, Rhode Island car insurance rates fall between just under $4,000 and just over $4,200. This range is likely determined by population density, economic status of the area, and risks assessed for motorists by car insurance providers.
It’s easy to find the cheapest car insurance rates for you. Just enter your ZIP code to get started.
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BEST RHODE ISLAND CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES
How do you find the best car insurance company for meeting you and your family’s needs?
From company financial ratings to rates for drivers of various histories, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each insurer.
When shopping for car insurance, the key issues you need to prioritize include:
- The level of insurance coverage you need
- The amount of money you can afford to pay for your car insurance premium
- The type of insurance company you want to do business with
Let’s cover some of the factors that can help you figure out the best car insurance company for you and your family in the Ocean State.
The Largest Companies’ Financial Rating
A good insurance company has the ability to financially cover its customers. That’s why considering financial ratings is important.
A.M. Best ranks America’s insurance companies by financial solvency. What does it mean for a company to receive a high grade? This video explains their methodology and meaning well.
The table below provides the financial ratings for Rhode Island’s 10 largest car insurance providers.
|COMPANY NAME||AM BEST RATING||DIRECT PREMIUMS WRITTEN||LOSS RATIO||MARKET SHARE|
Companies with Best Ratings
According to J.D. Power and Associates’ U.S. Auto Insurance Study, the best-rated insurance company in Rhode Island is Amica Mutual.
The graph below depicts New England’s, including Rhode Island, insurance providers, and their J.D. Power ratings.
But who are the cheapest car insurance providers in the great state of Rhode Island?
Cheapest Companies in Rhode Island
So many factors can affect your car insurance premium, you’re probably not surprised to learn. In the sections below, we’ll explore several of these factors.
But let’s start with a table that shows the overall averages for Rhode Island’s biggest car insurance providers and how they stack up against the state average premium.
|COMPANY||AVERAGE ANNUAL RATE||COMPARED TO STATE AVERAGE||PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE|
Do you know your commute can affect your car insurance premiums?
Commute Rates by Companies
Rhode Islanders have an average one-way commute of 23.9 minutes compared to the national average of 25.5 minutes.
Still, their insurance premiums are affected by their commute distance.
Whether you drive a little or a lot, State Farm is likely your cheapest insurance provider in the Ocean State.
The following table lists Rhode Island’s biggest car insurance providers and their corresponding average rates for both a 10- and 25-mile average commute distance.
|COMPANY||COMMUTE AND ANNUAL MILEAGE||ANNUAL AVERAGE|
|Allstate||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$4,924.56|
|Allstate||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$4,994.34|
|Geico||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$5,488.96|
|Geico||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$5,716.30|
|Liberty Mutual||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$5,983.25|
|Liberty Mutual||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$6,384.99|
|Nationwide||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$4,409.63|
|Nationwide||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$4,409.63|
|Progressive||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$5,231.09|
|Progressive||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$5,231.09|
|State Farm||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$2,333.47|
|State Farm||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$2,479.54|
|Travelers||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$6,909.45|
|Travelers||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$6,909.45|
|USAA||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||$4,282.66|
|USAA||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||$4,365.30|
Coverage Level Rates by Companies
Did you know that what coverage level you request affects how much money you will pay in car insurance premiums?
The more extensive the coverage, the more expensive car insurance usually becomes. The less coverage, the cheaper your insurance will likely be.
If you’re in Rhode Island, however, State Farm will likely remain your cheapest provider, whether you need a little insurance or a lot.
Below is a table that illustrates the different types of insurance coverage levels and their average yearly rates for Rhode Island’s biggest insurance providers.
|Company||COVERAGE LEVEL||ANNUAL AVERAGE|
Luckily, Rhode Island has relatively affordable insurance rates across all levels of coverage compared to other parts of the United States.
Did you know that your credit history also affects your car insurance premiums?
Credit History Rates by Companies
Credit history is a big factor for insurance companies when they are calculating your insurance premium.
On average, Rhode Islanders have a high credit score. With an average Experian score of 687, Ocean Staters have of one the highest average credit scores across the United States. (The national average is 675.)
But what if you have poor credit? Who are the best car insurers in Rhode Island for you? Likely State Farm or, if you qualify, USAA will be your most affordable options.
The table below shows average rates for those with a good, fair, or poor credit rating for Rhode Island’s top car insurance providers.
|COMPANY||CREDIT HISTORY||ANNUAL AVERAGE|
What affects your car insurance premium even more than your credit history is a factor that worries a lot of folks: your driving record.
Driving Record Rates by Companies
Do you have a spotless driving record? Most of us don’t, and we need to be prepared for our car insurance premiums to be affected by our driving histories.
If you live in Rhode Island and have a DUI in your past, for example, State Farm will likely be your most cost-effective car insurance provider.
The following table shows different insurance companies and their annual averages for people with varying driving records in Rhode Island.
|Company||Driving Record||Annual Average|
|Allstate||With 1 DUI||$5,752.11|
|Allstate||With 1 accident||$5,049.86|
|Allstate||With 1 speeding violation||$4,782.41|
|GEICO||With 1 DUI||$9,473.52|
|GEICO||With 1 accident||$4,766.89|
|GEICO||With 1 speeding violation||$4,548.61|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 DUI||$6,658.34|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 accident||$6,618.39|
|Liberty Mutual||Clean record||$5,729.87|
|Liberty Mutual||With 1 speeding violation||$5,729.87|
|Nationwide||With 1 DUI||$4,855.18|
|Nationwide||With 1 accident||$4,480.98|
|Nationwide||With 1 speeding violation||$4,225.48|
|Progressive||With 1 accident||$6,772.26|
|Progressive||With 1 speeding violation||$5,089.68|
|Progressive||With 1 DUI||$4,794.93|
|State Farm||With 1 accident||$2,930.32|
|State Farm||Clean record||$2,231.90|
|State Farm||With 1 DUI||$2,231.90|
|State Farm||With 1 speeding violation||$2,231.90|
|Travelers||With 1 DUI||$7,989.23|
|Travelers||With 1 speeding violation||$7,053.75|
|Travelers||With 1 accident||$6,403.21|
|USAA||With 1 DUI||$6,559.16|
|USAA||With 1 accident||$4,263.97|
|USAA||With 1 speeding violation||$3,333.54|
Largest Car Insurance Companies in Rhode Island
Who are the largest car insurance providers in Rhode Island?
|Rank||Company Group/group/code Company Name||Direct Premiums Written||Loss Ratio||Market Share|
Progressive Insurance has the highest market share in the state, as you can see in the table below.
Number of Insurers in Rhode Island
When you hear the phrase “foreign or domestic car insurance company,” what do you think that means?
When it comes to auto insurers, domestic simply means an in-state provider, and foreign, an out-of-state provider.
According to the NAIC, Rhode Island has 22 domestic car insurance companies and 727 foreign car insurance providers.
RHODE ISLAND LAWS
Rhode Island has some beautiful drives, like this one through historic Providence.
Now that you have a basic understanding of car insurance in Rhode Island under your belt, we can take a look at laws specific to The Ocean State.
Rhode Island’s laws can be confusing because the legalities in the state aren’t always the same as those in Rhode Island’s neighbors, such as New York or Massachusetts.
You’ll want to make sure you know precisely what you’re allowed to do on the road so you stay out of trouble in the great state of Rhode Island. To help you avoid such an unfortunate situation, we’ve collected some of the most important driving laws in Rhode Island below.
Car Insurance Laws
As we’ve already discussed, Rhode Island requires you to have minimum liability insurance with at least:
- Bodily Injury Liability Insurance: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability Insurance: $25,000
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
And again remember, these are just minimum requirements. What type of insurance is best for you, your vehicles and your family might be coverage beyond Rhode Island’s minimum requirements.
How State Laws for Insurance are Determined
Do you know about the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)?
Well, unless you’re an insurance nerd like us, you probably don’t, and that’s okay.
The NAIC is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization for the insurance industry, including car insurance. They were created and are governed by the chief insurance regulators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.
In case you’re curious about how insurance laws actually get made, they offer this great white paper to help you understand.
Some insurance companies may offer windshield replacement with comprehensive coverage, but Rhode Island laws have no regulations that are unique or specific to windshields.
In Rhode Island, like in many states without glass claims regulations, you can insist that your auto insurer use original manufacturer parts as a replacement after a crash, but you may have to pay the difference in cost.
Thinking about using a kit to do glass repair yourself? Check out the video below.
You may have a difficult time securing car insurance coverage if Rhode Island’s providers consider you a high-risk driver. What factors contribute to this label?
You’ll be considered a high-risk driver if you’ve got a troubled driving history. This means that any tickets, DUI/DWI convictions, or owning a high-risk car like a sports car could raise your insurance rates or make it impossible for you to find coverage at all.
If you’re considered a high-risk driver, you may have to apply to receive coverage through the Rhode Island Auto Insurance Plan.
This plan has been available to Rhode Island residents since 1968. Through this plan, high-risk drivers who providers would rather not cover can have access to the state minimum car insurance.
In 2014, 16,000 drivers in Rhode Island were insured courtesy of the RI AIP. That means 21 percent of all of the drivers registered in Rhode Island were able to rely on the state to ensure that they drove the roads safely.
To qualify for coverage through the RI AIP, you’ll have to offer the state proof you sought out car insurance coverage within the 60 days preceding your appeal and were denied.
So as long, then, as your car is registered with the state of Rhode Island and you’re in possession of a valid drivers’ license, you should qualify for insurance coverage through the RI AIP.
By providing this service, the state of Rhode Island has attempted to ensure that no driver on its road will drive without insurance, thereby making the roads of the state much safer.
Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not have any car insurance programs that are available to low-income residents.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Rhode Island
Automobile insurance fraud is a serious crime. Just ask this lawyer.
So what is car insurance fraud? According to the Insurance Information Institute, auto insurance fraud can be committed in one of two primary ways:
- Intentionally staging an accident or making a false claim
- “Padding” or adding intentionally false things to a legitimate claim
Just be honest in all your dealings with your car insurance provider and you are likely to avoid car insurance fraud.
Statute of Limitations
Do you know what a statute of limitations is?
Put simply, a statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a court case following an accident.
In Rhode Island, you have three years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and a whopping 10 years to report property damage.
It’s a good idea to check out the National Motorists Association guide to driving in Rhode Island.
Here is some interesting (and important) information for driving in the Ocean State the NMA provides:
- Dome light must be turned on when pulling over if stopped by the authorities after dark.
- Speed limits are presumed (driving faster than the speed limit is only evidence of unreasonable speed — you can still argue that your speed was safe under the specific conditions).
- Speeding and all minor traffic violations are handled by the Administrative Adjudication Division.
Vehicle Licensing Laws
Like all other states in the United States of America, Rhode Island has mandatory licensing laws in addition to the laws we have already covered. You’re probably not surprised to learn that the Ocean State requires a valid driver’s license to operate a vehicle.
And be honest: who doesn’t love getting their picture taken at the DMV?
Okay, maybe that’s not the case. But you should know: licensing yourself and your vehicle in Rhode Island may be easier than you think.
According to Rhode Island’s Division of Motor Vehicles, any Rhode Island resident 18 years of age or older who has never been issued a Rhode Island driver’s license — or if the license has been expired for more than five years — must apply for a driving instruction permit by taking the computerized knowledge exam.
- New residents from out-of-country who are 18 or older must apply for an Instruction Permit.
- A driver’s education course is not required to obtain an instruction permit.
- Review the Rhode Island Driving Manual
- Bring the License/ID/Permit Application to the Cranston DMV headquarters.
- Refer to the third page of the License/ID/Permit Application for a list of documents needed to perform this transaction.
- Costs are listed in the DMV Fee Table
Do you have some business to do with the Social Security Administration in Providence? A REAL ID can save you the hassle of bringing other forms of identification with you to conduct official state or federal government business.
If you have a recent Rhode Island driver’s license, you should know that the Ocean State is in full compliance with the REAL ID Act passed by Congress and enforced by Homeland Security.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
In short: it’s a bad idea to drive without insurance. The table below shows the penalties you’ll face in Rhode Island.
|OFFENSE||FINE||LICENSE SUSPENSION||REINSTATEMENT FEE|
|1||$100-$500||Suspension up to three months||$30-$50|
|2||$500||Suspension up to six months||$30-$50|
As you can see, one offense alone can result in a fine of up to $500. That’s the kind of fine you’ll want to make an effort to avoid.
Remember, proof of insurance in Rhode Island consists of a copy of your car insurance policy and a valid insurance card or any form of notarized paperwork that has your vehicle identification number on it.
What are the teen-specific driving laws in Rhode Island?
Teen Driver Laws
Like many states, Rhode Island requires a specific permit for teen drivers.
According to Rhode Island’s Division of Motor Vehicles, “A Rhode Island drivers permit can be issued to any Rhode Island resident who is 16 but less than 18 years of age, and has completed the 33-hour driver education course certified by the Community College of Rhode Island. For more information call CCRI (401) 825-1214.”
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
As you grow older in Rhode Island, your ability to renew your license may vary. For anyone under 72, the process of renewing your license will require you to visit the Rhode Island DMV every five years in order to ensure that your license is updated. Luckily, the Rhode Island DMV allows you to renew your license in person, by mail, or online as long as you’re younger than 72 years old.
For drivers over 72, however, your license expiration date will be extended to your 75th birthday, at which point you’ll need to have your license renewed every two years.
After you turn 72, you’ll also need to go to the DMV or local AAA branch in person for your license renewal in order to have your eyes tested.
Rhode Island’s Division of Motor Vehicles makes it pretty easy to transfer your out-of-state license when you move to The Ocean State.
Within 30 days of moving to the state, the Rhode Island DMV explains, you need to complete the following:
- Fill out and sign the License/ID/Permit Application.
- Refer to the third page of the License/ID/Permit Application for a list of documents needed to perform this transaction.
- Pay the requisite fee. Costs are listed in the DMV Fee Table.
License Renewal Procedures
Rhode Islanders have one of the easiest license renewal processes in the country.
As a Rhode Island resident, you’ll need to get your license renewed every five years, which you can easily do online, through the mail or by visiting either the DMV or a local AAA branch office.
Rules of the Road
Now that we’ve gone over basic license procedures for the state of Rhode Island, what rules do you need to know about while driving down the road on an average day?
Fault vs. No-Fault
Rhode Island is a traditional “at-fault” state, meaning you’ll be held liable, both financially and legally, if you are found to be the cause of an auto accident.
But we want to make sure you have the best insurance you can to protect you and your family.
And how do you do that? Remember: the more comprehensive your insurance, the better prepared you are to face accidents and other auto incidents, whether or not you are at fault.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
Remember, car insurance companies reward you for good driving behavior. And sometimes, like with seat belts, that good behavior is also required by law.
Rhode Island has instituted a primary seat belt law that applies to both adults and children. This law, according to the Rhode Island State government, states that:
- Anyone driving a car needs to be properly wearing a seat belt or shoulder harness when the car is in motion.
- Any passenger 8 years old or older needs to be wearing a seat belt or safety harness while the car is in motion.
- Any passenger younger than 8 needs to be in an appropriate car seat unless they are over 57 inches in height or weigh more than 80 pounds.
- Infants and toddlers need to be kept in a rear-facing car seat unless they are older than 2 years of age or weight more than 30 pounds.
- Any children who are over 2 years old or weigh more than 30 pounds need to be in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
Rhode Island law requires that if you’re driving at a speed that’s slower than the posted speed limit, you stay on the right side of the road. If a driver on the left side of the road is moving slowly, though, you can pass on the right-hand side, unlike in many states.
Move Over Laws in Rhode Island are equally straightforward. A Move Over law requires you to move out of the way of an oncoming vehicle that is driving on the same side of the road as you.
These vehicles include:
- Utility Workers
- Law Enforcement
- Utility Trucks
- Drivers with Hazard Lights on
In general, flashing lights in your rearview mirror mean that you need to move over. That way EMS authorities can do their jobs more effectively and drivers on the road can stay safer.
Rhode Island’s maximum speed limits are:
- Rural Interstates: Cars 65 mph, Trucks 65 mph
- Urban Interstates: Cars 55 mph, Trucks 55 mph
- Other Limited Access Roads: Cars 55 mph, Trucks 55 mph
Thinking about taking an Uber or Lyft in Rhode Island? That’s probably fine, but the state is lagging in enacting insurance requirements for ridesharing options.
At this point in time, only Geico and Liberty Mutual offer ridesharing insurance in Rhode Island.
Most major rideshare companies require their drivers to have insurance that covers not only the driver but also all passengers, with the state of operation’s minimum requirements.
Automation on the Road
What the heck is automation?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explains that automation is simply the use of a machine or technology to perform a task previously carried out by a human. Automation typically refers to radars, cameras, and other sensors used to gather information about a vehicle’s surroundings.
Rhode Island has yet to legislatively act on automated driving, but it is something the state will have to consider in the near future.
You know driving safely is important, no matter where you’re driving. The first step in driving safely is knowing a state’s safety laws and regulations.
Since you now know the proper way to insure and register your vehicle in Rhode Island, let’s take a look at some important safety information to keep you, your family, and your vehicles safe in the Ocean State.
Whether you’re drunk or just buzzed, driving under the influence of alcohol is never a good idea.
The BAC — blood alcohol content — limit in Rhode Island is 0.08. Get caught driving over that limit and you face some hefty fines and possible jail time:
- Imprisonment with no minimum, but up to one year or 10-60 hours community service
- Fine $100-$500 +$500 to highway assessment fund
- Other Possible attendance to a treatment program; SR-22 insurance
- Driver’s License Revocation one year
- Imprisonment five days – six months
- Fine $300-$2500
- Other one year IID
- Alcohol Highway safety school
- Treatment when ordered
- Driver’s License Revocation two to three years
- Imprisonment one to five years
- Fine $400-$5000 +$500 to highway assessment fund
- Other vehicles may be seized or forfeited.
- Mandatory treatment program.
- IID for two years
In 2017 alone, the state of Rhode Island had 34 drunk driving fatalities. It’s not worth the risk. Call a taxi or a friend.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws
Get busted driving high in Rhode Island and you face the same consequences as a DUI outlined above.
Distracted Driving Laws
Rhode Island has an all-encompassing ban on cellphone use and texting while driving.
It does not matter how old you are; if a police officer catches you on your phone at any point while driving in Rhode Island, you will be ticketed and potentially have your license revoked for a short time.
Your text or hand-held phone call can wait in the Ocean State.
Driving in Rhode Island
As you already know, driving safely is important wherever you are.
Read on for some important information about keeping you, your family and your vehicles safe in the great state of Rhode Island.
Vehicle Theft in Rhode Island
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps track of vehicle thefts and other crimes city-by-city in all states. In Rhode Island, this means they’re tracking vehicle theft everywhere, from Barrington to Woonsocket.
In 2016, Cranston, Rhode Island, led the state in vehicle thefts with 136.
You might want to know what vehicles are stolen the most in the Ocean State. The table below shows the top 10 most-stolen cars in Rhode Island for 2018 by make, model, and model year.
|RANK||MAKE/MODEL||YEAR OF VEHICLE||THEFTS|
|7||Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2003||36|
|8||Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||1999||32|
Car thieves in Rhode Island really like to steal Hondas, our research shows.
Road Fatalities in Rhode Island
Unfortunately, the scenic, seaside roadways of Rhode Island sometimes turn deadly.
Below we’ll explore the different variables of road fatalities, which totaled 59 across the Ocean State in 2018.
Most Fatal Highway in Rhode Island
GeoTab reports that Interstate 95 is Rhode Island’s most fatal highway, with 39 fatal crashes over the last decade. This isn’t that surprising given that I-95 is the East Coast’s major thoroughfare.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
While the weather in Rhode Island isn’t particularly severe, it can still impact the safety of drivers on a daily basis.
The table below provides a breakdown of fatal crashes by weather and light conditions across Rhode Island in 2017.
|WEATHER CONDITION||DAYLIGHT||DARK, BUT LIGHTED||DARK||DAWN OR DUSK||OTHER / UNKNOWN||TOTAL|
Luckily, Rhode Islanders seem to be safe drivers in the snow, which is good since they get a lot of it.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
More people often mean more crash fatalities.
The table below provides the five-year road fatality trends for the Ocean State’s five biggest counties from 2013 to 2017.
|All Counties in Total||65||51||45||51||83|
Not surprisingly, Providence County, which contains the city of Providence, consistently sees the most fatalities of any Ocean State’s county.
In some states, there is a large gap in fatalities between urban and rural areas. But in tiny Rhode Island, the divide isn’t that telling.
In the table below, you’ll find the traffic fatalities by rural and urban designation for Rhode Island between 2013 and 2017.
|TRAFFIC FATALITIES BY ROAD TYPE||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
As in most states, more crashes happen in Rhode Island’s urban areas than its rural areas.
Fatalities by Passenger Type
What kind of vehicles are Rhode Islanders riding or driving when they’re in a deadly car crash?
The table below shows fatalities by passenger type from 2013 to 2017.
|Light Truck - Pickup||4||3||3||4||3|
|Light Truck - Utility||3||3||5||6||6|
|Light Truck - Van||1||1||1||0||4|
|Light Truck - Other||0||0||0||1||0|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||3||0||0||2||2|
More Rhode Islanders die in passenger cars than any other type of vehicle each year.
Fatalities by Crash Type
Similarly, how many vehicles are involved in deadly crashes across the Ocean State? And what causes these crashes?
The table below shows the number of vehicle fatalities in Rhode Island by crash type from 2013 to 2017.
|Involving a Large Truck||5||2||1||2||8|
|Involving a Rollover||8||7||12||11||11|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||36||24||23||23||47|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||18||10||7||8||12|
Crashes involving a single vehicle and/or a roadway departure tend to be the most deadly crash types in the Ocean State.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Remember, the speeding restrictions in Rhode Island are fairly strict, as we’ve already discussed. They are put in place to protect people driving in the state.
The following table illustrates the 2013-2017 statistics on fatalities caused by speeding in Rhode Island by county according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Again, the more densely-populated Providence County leads the state In fatalities involving speeding.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County
Drunk driving is one of the most avoidable causes of road fatalities.
This table offers the 2013-2017 statistics on crash fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver in Rhode Island by county according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Providence County — home of the urban center of Providence and many of the state’s major institutions — leads the state in both alcohol-impaired and speeding fatalities.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Fortunately, on average, teen drinking and driving is less of a problem in Rhode Island than it is across the United States.
Whereas America has a national average of 1.2 teen deaths from drunk driving per 100,000 people, the rate is only 0.8 underage alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people in The Ocean State.
EMS Response Time
In Rhode Island, EMS response times have the same average whether a crash occurs in an urban or rural area.
The table below breaks down the average EMS response time for urban and rural areas of Rhode Island, from the time of the crash to hospital arrival.
|LOCATION OF INCIDENT||TIME OF CRASH TO EMS NOTIFICATION||EMS NOTIFICATION TO EMS ARRIVAL||EMS ARRIVAL AT SCENE TO HOSPITAL ARRIVAL||TIME OF CRASH TO HOSPITAL ARRIVAL|
|Urban||4.5 min||8.3 min||36.5 min||46.88 min|
|Rural||4.5 min||8.3 min||36.5 min||46.88 min|
Transportation in Rhode Island
If you live in Rhode Island, chances are you live in a two-car household and drive 23.9 minutes each way to work by yourself.
According to DataUSA, 42.1 percent of Rhode Island’s households own two cars, 22.4 percent own one car, and 21.3 percent own three.
DataUSA also reports that Rhode Islanders have an average commute of 23.9 minutes each way, just below the national average of 25.5 minutes.
According to DataUSA, “in 2017, the most common method of travel for workers in Rhode Island was Drove Alone (79.4 percent), followed by those who Carpooled (9.44 percent) and those who Worked At Home (4.53 percent).”
Public transit is fairly popular in Providence, but not in other parts of the state.
Traffic Congestion in Rhode Island
Do you need to worry about dealing with Rhode Island traffic congestion if you wake up after your morning alarm? Not at all.
None of Rhode Island’s cities are listed on the INRIX’s scorecard for global traffic.
We think the Ocean State is a great place to take a drive and to call home. From world-class educational institutions to some of the best seafood in the United States, there’s a lot to draw people to and keep them in our nation’s smallest state.
With below-average car insurance premiums, Rhode Islanders can spend more money doing the things they love.
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about your liabilities as a driver in Rhode Island.
What part was the most helpful? Was there something we’ve left out? Just let us know.
Simply by entering your ZIP code below, you can take the next step in getting the best auto insurance quotes for Rhode Island, the beautiful Ocean State.