Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, research investigative pieces…

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states…

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Reviewed byRachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent for 14 Years

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Rhode Island Statistics SummaryDetails
Road Miles 2014Total in State: 6,027
Vehicle Miles Driven: 7,677 Million
Vehicles 2014Registered: 832,892
Total Stolen: 1,833
State Population1,057,315
Most Popular VehicleRAV4
Percentage of Motorists Uninsured15.20%
State Rank: 13th
Driving DeathsSpeeding (2017) Total: 41
Drunk Driving (2017) Total: 34
Average Premiums 2015 (Annual)Liability: $759.80
Collision: $411.51
Comprehensive: $132.19
Combined Premium: $1,303.50
Cheapest ProviderState Farm Mutual Auto
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With a population of 1,057,315 and an area of 1,212 square miles, the state of Rhode Island holds the title of “the smallest state in America.”

But that’s not all Rhode Island boasts of — it’s rugged coastline and famed colonial towns make it a popular place for sailing, fishing, and vacationing.

Rhode Island has just over 800,000 registered vehicles and approximately 6,000 miles of roadway.

But, one thing is certain — if you want to have a registered vehicle to drive up and down the seaside or visit a friend at Brown University for the weekend, you must have car insurance. It’s the law.

We know that finding the right car insurance policy can be extremely time consuming and sometimes even annoying, so that’s exactly why we wrote this ultimate guide to Rhode Island car insurance.

In this guide, we will discuss things like types of car insurance, auto insurance discounts, car insurance companies with the best ratings, rules of the road, emergency stats, and much more.

Don’t go away, you can start comparing insurance rates in your area right now by entering your zip code in the box above.

Table of Contents

Rhode Island Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

First, we want to make sure you understand different types of car insurance coverage. After all, no one wants to pay for something (or invest in something) if they don’t understand why they need to have it in the first place.

Let’s start with the basics: car insurance types, companies, and special discounts. We want to begin by explaining minimum liability coverage and the difference between no-fault and at-fault.

Keep reading to find out more.

Rhode Island’s Car Culture

Because Rhode Island was one of the first states, it holds a lot of history: specifically automobile history. According to The Hartford, the first car race on a track was hosted in Cranston in 1896, and the first automobile parade took place in Newport in 1899.

Also in Newport, in 1904, a judge handed down the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile.

Rhode Island residents drive about 2,000 miles less than the average American per year although it is the second most densely populated state in America.

This means traffic in Rhode Island can be a bummer, but if you’re looking to explore all that the Ocean State has to offer, the best way to do it surely by automobile.

Rhode Island Minimum Coverage

By law, every driver in Rhode Island must have minimum liability car insurance coverage. This is to protect drivers if and when an accident occurs.

Having liability insurance ensures a driver is financially covered and is able to cover the costs of any damages resulting from an accident – to his own vehicle and anyone else’s.

That’s right, this means Rhode Island is an at-fault state.

In Rhode Island, any person who causes an accident is responsible for covering the costs of damages to all parties involved.

It seems simple and fair, doesn’t it? While Rhode Island is one of 38 states to claim the at-fault title, 12 states in the U.S. are considered to be no-fault states.

Any car insurance policy in Rhode Island must meet these minimum requirements:

  • $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
  • $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
  • $25,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle

Remember in the grand scheme car values and costs, these amounts above really aren’t that high. Insurance money runs out fast, so it’s good to carry more than the minimum amount required.

Forms of Financial Responsibility

Because every driver in Rhode Island is required to carry minimum liability insurance, every driver is also required to carry a form of financial responsibility or proof of insurance.

This is just a document you will receive after you have purchased a car insurance policy.

If a law enforcement officer asks to see proof of insurance, you can show him or her any of the following documents:

  • Valid liability insurance ID cards
  • Electronic insurance ID card
  • Copy of your current car’s insurance policy
  • Valid insurance binder (a temporary form of car insurance)

Driving without proof of insurance in Rhode Island (or proof of financial responsibility) is a misdemeanor.

Rhode Island residents who do not carry proof of insurance can face fines of up to $1,000, and license suspension up to 12 months.

If you’re caught driving without proof of insurance, you may be required to get SR22 insurance. This type of insurance may raise your car insurance rates.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Ever heard of the term “insurance premium”? This is the total amount of money a driver will spend on car insurance for over one year.

Now, if you’re a new resident or new driver in Rhode Island, you might be interested in knowing what the average premium is compared to the average resident’s income.

Rhode Island’s average per capita income in 2014 was $42,585. The average car insurance premium was $1,257.40.

Rhode Islanders spend 2.95% of their total annual income on car insurance.

Surrounding states like Massachusetts and Connecticut have significantly higher average incomes of about $10,000 more than Rhode Island, but surprisingly, the average premiums are about the same.

When compared to the rest of the country, the average American has an income of just over $40,000 and pays an average car insurance premium of $981.


Core Coverage in Rhode Island

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs (2015)
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The data above comes directly from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). But because this data was pulled in 2015, insurance costs are likely to be higher today.

Even though it is tempting to purchase only the minimum insurance required, it is important to have the right coverage that fully suits your needs and your vehicle. Trust us, you will be glad for this advice after you have been involved in an accident.

Up next, we will talk about additional coverage options.

Additional Liability Coverage in Rhode Island

Loss Ratio201220132014
Medical Payments (MedPay)99.07%100.17%97.52%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UUM)69.26%63.74%63.43%
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At least 7.60% of Rhode Island drivers are uninsured. Just to be clear, uninsured and medical payment insurance are additional insurance options, but drivers are not required to carry these add-ons by law.

Even though it’s not required, it still might be a good idea to have these types of insurance.

Rhode Island is ranked 43rd in the U.S. for uninsured drivers.

Let’s say you get hit by an uninsured driver and your car needs to be totaled and you have medical bills up to your eyes.

Most likely, that uninsured driver will go bankrupt trying to pay for these costs and you will never see a dime of money that was rightfully owed to you. This is where uninsured insurance comes into play.

But what exactly is a loss ratio?

A loss ratio is how we determine a companies financial strength. By knowing these percentages, we can figure out how many filed claims were paid out by an insurance company and how many claims were not paid.

By looking at the table above, we know that insurance companies in Rhode Island paid about 69 percent percent of uninsured insurance claims filed from the years 2012-14.

If this number was too high (over 100 percent) these companies may have been at risk for going bankrupt because they were paying too many claims – some of these claims may have even been fraudulent.

On the other hand, if the number was too low (under 50 percent) these companies may have been scamming clients because they were only paying about half of all of the claims received.

So what should you look for when finding a new insurance company? You should avoid car insurance companies with low and high loss ratios. Stick with companies who have loss ratios of 50-90 percent.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

There are many car insurance add-on options out there. But how do you know which ones are right for you?

Click on the links below to learn more about each type of coverage.

You don’t have to choose just one policy from this list. Add one, or add them all. The decision is completely up to you.

Demographic Rates: Male vs. Female vs. Age

Usually, many people that women have higher insurance rates than men, but this is usually not the case.

CompanyMarried 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old maleSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old male
Allstate F&C$3,991.81$3,919.97$3,965.46$4,138.80$6,951.89$8,211.70$4,181.73$4,314.24
Geico General$3,352.25$3,435.27$3,435.27$3,358.93$10,460.06$13,683.07$3,471.31$3,624.88
Liberty Mutual Fire Ins Co$3,967.26$3,967.26$3,781.20$3,781.20$9,610.11$15,000.77$3,967.26$5,397.88
Nationwide Mutual$2,870.60$2,916.99$2,522.14$2,676.05$7,505.22$9,664.73$3,412.17$3,709.14
Progressive Direct$2,657.85$2,523.06$2,442.97$2,428.75$11,882.34$13,361.63$3,245.10$3,307.02
State Farm Mutual Auto$1,529.96$1,529.96$1,349.64$1,349.64$4,204.16$5,604.41$1,680.96$2,003.27
Travelers Home & Marine Ins Co$1,681.61$1,701.83$1,712.33$1,702.69$17,367.38$27,457.38$1,729.94$1,922.42
USAA CIC$2,081.24$2,057.69$1,994.32$1,954.09$9,649.96$11,028.79$2,842.49$2,983.23
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Normally, men pay more for car insurance than women do. Factors like marital status and gender should probably not play a role in a car insurance rate, but sadly, they do.

Age as a factor, on the other hand, is completely understandable. Usually, the older you get, the lower you’re policy will be.

Car insurance companies know that with age, comes experience, and you’re less likely to be an accident or get a ticket when you’re 25 than when you’re 16.

Cheapest Rates by Zip Code in Rhode Island

Did you know that where you live plays a role when deciding your car insurance rate? Some cities have more accidents than others. Injuries are more likely to happen in some places than they are in others.

Car insurance companies have access to these statistics and that’s why they need to know not only where you live, but where you drive.

Look for your zip code in the table below.

CityZipcodeAverageAllstate F&CGeico GeneralLiberty Mutual Fire Ins CoNationwide MutualProgressive DirectState Farm Mutual AutoTravelers Home & Marine Ins CoUSAA CIC
NORTH PROVIDENCE02911$6,341.33$5,770.56$7,510.66$7,555.06$5,736.03$6,818.86$2,733.99$9,171.84$5,433.62
CENTRAL FALLS02863$5,975.22$5,711.10$7,660.12$6,431.29$5,352.61$6,633.86$2,733.99$8,213.51$5,065.26
EAST PROVIDENCE02914$5,580.28$5,306.99$6,040.54$6,431.29$4,824.04$7,082.60$2,733.99$7,548.79$4,674.02
WEST WARWICK02893$5,161.34$5,307.13$6,118.54$6,431.29$4,483.28$5,127.81$2,733.99$6,996.78$4,091.92
NORTH SCITUATE02857$5,035.12$5,459.02$6,145.50$5,749.70$4,501.52$5,271.32$2,084.74$6,736.18$4,332.97
EAST GREENWICH02818$5,002.54$5,007.06$5,187.83$5,992.38$4,714.15$5,127.81$2,733.99$7,078.97$4,178.12
PEACE DALE02883$4,976.25$4,079.57$4,953.55$5,512.74$3,712.07$9,855.70$2,034.57$5,704.68$3,957.14
WEST GREENWICH02817$4,789.81$4,867.09$5,614.71$5,512.74$4,358.70$5,271.32$2,084.74$6,431.08$4,178.12
NORTH SMITHFIELD02896$4,712.58$4,788.03$5,110.94$5,607.51$3,979.08$4,695.54$2,733.99$6,698.38$4,087.14
NORTH KINGSTOWN02852$4,625.78$4,704.29$4,564.15$5,512.74$4,296.51$5,127.81$2,034.57$6,719.02$4,047.14
WEST KINGSTON02892$4,362.34$4,407.99$4,953.55$5,512.74$3,712.07$3,999.24$2,084.74$6,393.60$3,834.82
HOPE VALLEY02832$4,288.65$4,322.23$4,534.73$5,749.70$3,760.68$3,999.24$2,084.74$5,817.48$4,040.43
WOOD RIVER JUNCTION02894$4,240.73$4,280.51$4,534.73$5,749.70$3,813.30$3,999.24$2,084.74$5,416.44$4,047.14
PRUDENCE ISLAND02872$4,222.09$4,142.01$3,886.67$5,236.06$4,036.99$5,064.86$2,034.57$5,886.01$3,489.60
BLOCK ISLAND02807$4,125.16$4,204.43$4,129.79$5,749.70$3,417.05$3,999.24$2,084.74$5,831.01$3,585.36
LITTLE COMPTON02837$4,027.83$4,018.83$3,886.67$5,236.06$3,731.00$4,480.85$2,034.57$5,473.51$3,361.12
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Cheapest Rates by Cities in Rhode Island

CityAverage Grand Total
HOPE VALLEY$4,288.65
PEACE DALE$4,976.25
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Providence is the biggest city in Rhode Island, so it makes sense that car insurance is the most expensive there.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Best Rhode Island Car Insurance Companies

With literally hundreds of car insurance companies out there, it’s difficult to choose just one to ensure you and your vehicle.

How do you know if your claims will be paid when the treacherous day comes that you get into an accident? Does the company have good customer service ratings?

Don’t worry, because we’ve done all the work for you so you can rest assured when choosing a new insurance company.

In this section, we cover companies’ financial ratings, AM’s best ratings, and which companies have the most complaints.

The Top 10 Largest Companies Financial Rating

CompanyAM RatingDirect Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
Progressive GroupA+$193,72065.71%21.01%
Allstate Insurance GroupA+$107,25662.08%11.63%
Amica Mutual GroupA+$105,70863.36%11.47%
Liberty Mutual GroupA$65,12465.17%7.06%
USAA GroupA++$63,85178.38%6.93%
Metropolitan GroupA$55,07557.15%5.97%
Nationwide Corp GroupA+$52,88163.34%5.74%
Mapfre Insurance GroupA$42,52363.64%4.61%
Travelers Groupa+$21,85354.69%2.37%
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In the table above, we show AM best ratings. AM best ratings measure a company’s financial strength.

We previously discussed a company shouldn’t have a loss ratio of over 100 percent or under 50 percent. All of the companies above have great loss ratio percentages and very good ratings.

Companies with Best Ratings

People don’t know how important customer service is when it comes to car insurance companies until they’re standing on the side of the road after an accident trying to explain what happened over the phone to a customer service representative.

Take a look at J.D. Power’s Customer Satisfaction study to learn which companies had the best rankings in 2018.

JD Power Rhode Island Study

With the exception of USAA, Amica Mutual was ranked as the best company for customer service in 2018.

Companies with the Most Complaints in Rhode Island

The data below is pulled from the NAIC. It includes complaint statistics for the top 10 largest car insurance companies in Rhode Island.

CompanyNational Median
Complaint Ratio
Company Complaint Ratio (2017)Total Complaints (2017)
Progressive Group10.75$120
Allstate Insurance Group10.5$163.00
Amica Mutual Group10.46$52
Liberty Mutual Group15.95$222
USAA GroupN/A0$2
Metropolitan Group11.3$70
Nationwide Corp Group10.28$25
Mapfre Insurance Group16.25$27
Travelers Group10.09$2
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Every company receives complaints at some point or another. What you should really be aware of is how a company handles a complaint.

These companies are some of the best in the country, and even though they have received complaints, they are still very highly recommended.

Cheapest Companies in Rhode Island

Besides USAA, which is a company that only serves military members and their families, State Farm Mutual Auto has the cheapest premium in Rhode Island.

CompanyAverageCompared to State AveragePercentage Compared to State Average
Allstate F&C$4,959.45-$43.91-0.89%
Geico General$5,602.63$599.2710.70%
Liberty Mutual Fire Ins Co$6,184.12$1,180.7619.09%
Nationwide Mutual$4,409.63-$593.73-13.46%
Progressive Direct$5,231.09$227.734.35%
State Farm Mutual Auto$2,406.50-$2,596.85-107.91%
Travelers Home & Marine Ins Co$6,909.45$1,906.0927.59%
USAA CIC$4,323.98-$679.38-15.71%
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Commute Rates by Companies

How far you drive every day can also affect your rate.

Group10 Miles Commute
6000 Annual Mileage
25 Miles Commute
12000 Annual Mileage
Liberty Mutual$5,983.25$6,384.99
State Farm$2,333.47$2,479.54
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Coverage Level Rates by Companies

Sometimes car insurance companies will give you a break on your policy if you have more insurance than the minimum that is required.

GroupLow CoverageMedium CoverageHigh Coverage
Liberty Mutual$5,810.12$6,145.16$6,597.08
State Farm$2,277.64$2,402.31$2,539.55
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Credit History Rates by Companies

Credit can also play a role when it comes to car insurance rate. If you have poor credit, your rates will most likely be extremely high.

Rhode Island residents have an average credit score of 687.

Collectively, the average credit score in the U.S. is 675, so Rhode Island’s average score is higher the national average by 13 points.

GroupPoor Credit HistoryFair Credit HistoryGood Credit History
Liberty Mutual$8,135.91$5,399.61$5,016.84
State Farm$3,232.92$2,184.74$1,801.84
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Keep your credit report in good standing, and your car insurance rates will most likely stay lower. On the other hand, if you have poor credit, you could be paying thousands of dollars more per year for your car insurance policy.

Driving Record Rates by Companies

Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket and then noticed your car insurance policy increased? That’s because your driving record is probably the most influential factor when determining car insurance rates.

GroupClean RecordWith 1 Speeding ViolationWith 1 AccidentWith 1 DUI
Liberty Mutual$5,729.87$5,729.87$6,618.39$6,658.34
State Farm$2,231.90$2,231.90$2,930.32$2,231.90
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Check out Geico’s rates. If you go from having a clean record to getting one DUI, your yearly premium will increase by over $6,000. Not only can drinking and driving cost you thousands of dollars in fines, but it can also cost you thousands of dollars in car insurance.

Number of Insurers in Rhode Island

How many licensed insurance companies are there in Rhode Island?

DomesticForeignTotal Number of Licensed Insurers
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In total, there are 749 licensed insurance companies in Rhode Island. But what is the difference between foreign and domestic insurance?

Domestic insurance laws are formed under state law. Foreign insurance laws are formed under the laws the U.S. Foreign insurance is applicable to any state in the U.S.

Rhode Island Laws

Sometimes it’s difficult to know all of the laws ever written that apply to you and your driving, especially in a state as small as Rhode Island where drivers are constantly crossing over state lines.

No one wants to get fined for disobeying a driving law, so to help you avoid the headache and the fines, we want to make sure you are aware of driving laws specific to Rhode Island.

Are you considering moving to the Ocean state any time soon? It might be a good idea to pay attention to this next section.

Remember how we said just one speeding violation could drastically raise your rates? The same concept could apply to breaking just about any driving law.

Car Insurance Laws

By now you should know that it is mandatory for every driver in Rhode Island to at least carry minimum liability coverage at all times. If you decide to drive without this insurance, your license could be suspended and you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

But how are these laws written into practice?

According to the NAIC, State laws have a considerable influence on auto insurance.

Each state determines the type of tort law and threshold (if any) that applies in the state, the type and amount of liability insurance required, and the system used for approval of insurer rates and forms.

Rhode Island uses what’s called “flex rating” and “prior approval” when approving an individual’s insurance rate.

  • Flex rating: prior approval of rates required only if they exceed a certain percentage above (and sometimes below) the previously filed rates.
  • Prior Approval: Rates/forms must be filed with and approved by the state insurance department before they can be used. Approval can be by means of a deemer provision, which indicates approval if rates/forms are not denied within a specified number of days.

Windshield Coverage in Rhode Island

Even though there aren’t any specific laws when it comes to insurance companies paying to have a broken windshield replaced, some companies may offer this service with comprehensive coverage.

High-Risk Insurance

High-risk insurance (or SR22 insurance) is required by any and all drivers who are convicted of a DUI.

According to SR22 Insurance, SR22 auto insurance is a type of high-risk auto insurance policy issued by an insurance provider that reassures and warranties the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles that the policyholder, as required by the state law, has the minimum insurance coverage.

Besides getting a DUI, here are some other reasons you might need to get SR22 insurance:

  • Anyone with one or more DUIs on their record
  • Multiple ticket violations
  • Anyone caught driving without insurance coverage
  • Being uninsured at the time of an accident
  • Being unable to verify insurance coverage for a random state verification request

If you need SR-22 insurance, some providers can refuse you as a client because you are considered a “high-risk” driver.

Low-Cost Insurance in Rhode Island

Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not have an insurance program for families with low income, however, there are more ways to save money on your car insurance policy.

When you’re signing up with a new insurance company, always ask for these discounts:

  • Homeowner’s discount
  • Good Driver discount
  • Student discount
  • Multi-car discount
  • Military discount

Looking for more ways to save? Enter your zip code in the box below to start comparing rates in your area right now!

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Automobile Insurance Fraud in Rhode Island

Auto insurance fraud is a serious crime in the state of Rhode Island. If convicted, you may face time in prison and have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.

As defined by the Insurance Information Institute, insurance fraud can be “hard” or “soft.” Hard fraud occurs when someone deliberately fabricates claims or fakes an accident.

Soft insurance fraud, also known as opportunistic fraud, occurs when people pad legitimate claims, for example, or, in the case of business owners, list fewer employees or misrepresent the work they do to pay lower premiums for workers compensation.

To report fraud in Rhode Island, please call the Fraud Unit at (401) 574-8175. You can also visit to report fraud anonymously.

Statute of Limitations

If you get into a car accident, you have a certain amount of time to file a claim with a car insurance company. This is called the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations law protects both the client and the insurer. It protects the client by giving him or her a decent amount of time to file a claim, but it also protects the insurer from receiving a claim many years after an accident happened.

In the state of Rhode Island, you have three years to file a claim for personal injury, and ten years to file a claim for property damage. Rhode Island holds the record for the state with the longest amount of time to file a property damage claim.

Remember, 10 years can go by quickly, so make sure you file those claims now if you have any.

Rhode Island Specific State Laws

According to Title 31, Chapter 31-16, no Rhode Island vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction upon any curve or upon the approach to, or near the crest of a grade, where the vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction within five hundred feet (500′).

Violations of this section are subject to fines.

In case you were thinking about riding your horse on the highway, don’t. In Rhode Island, it’s illegal to ride a horse on a highway for the purpose of racing or testing the speed of the horse.

It is also illegal to coast downhill when your vehicle is in neutral.

When passing someone on the left, you must give a “timely, audible signal” such as honking or shouting. The original 1916 law specified that a bell or horn should be used. Apparently, a turn signal doesn’t suffice in the state of Rhode Island.

Be very careful in Scituate, RI: you’ll need to transport beer from the liquor store or other place of purchase to your home in something other than your car because it is illegal to have it in your car even if it is unopened.

Vehicle Licensing Laws

By the year 2020, every driver will be required to carry a REAL ID if he or she wishes to go through security at the airport to board a domestic flight.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

You must have car insurance on any vehicle you drive in the state of Rhode Island. But what are the penalties for driving without car insurance?

Number of OffensePenalty
1st Offense- Fine of $100 to $500
- License and registration suspension up to three months - reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
2nd Offense- Fine of $500
- license and registration suspension up to six months - reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
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Even if you really have car insurance but you’re caught driving without proof of insurance, you still may have your license suspended.

Let’s go back to the basics. What is an acceptable form of proof of insurance?

  • Electronic insurance ID card
  • Original insurance ID card
  • Copy of your current car’s insurance policy
  • Valid insurance binder (a temporary form of car insurance)

As a Rhode Island driver, you must be ready and willing to show your proof of insurance to any law enforcement officer who requests to see it – no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Teen Driver Laws

According to the IIHS, in Rhode Island, driver education is required of permit applicants younger than 18. However, young drivers can start driver’s education at 16 years old.

Teen Driving LawsTime/Age
Mandatory Holding Period6 months
Minimum Supervised Driving Time50 hours, 10 of which must be at night
Minimum Age16, 6 months
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Below are the laws for drivers with a restricted license.

Young Driver LawsRestrictions
Nighttime restrictions1 a.m.-5 a.m.
Passenger restrictions (family members excepted unless noted otherwise)no more than 1 passenger younger than 21
Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted
Nighttime restrictions12 months or age 18, whichever occurs first (min. age: 17, 6 mos.)
Passenger restrictions12 months or age 18, whichever occurs first (min. age: 17, 6 mos.)
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Driver License Renewal Procedures

If you are over the age of 75, you must renew your license every two years. If you are under the age of 75, you must renew your license every five years.

Proof of adequate vision is required at every renewal.

All drivers may renew licenses online or by mail, but he or she must renew licenses in person at least every other renewal.

New Residents

According to Rhode Island’s Department of Motor Vehicles, if you have a driver’s license from your previous state, you’ll need to transfer it to Rhode Island within 30 days of becoming a resident.

You’ll need to visit your local RI DMV office in person and submit the required forms and payment.

Keep in mind that the bare minimum car insurance requirement for Rhode Island drivers is:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability

Remember that you’ll also need to contact your current insurance provider and let them know you’re moving. Some insurance providers do not cover all states in the U.S., so it’s always a good idea to double check before you try to get insurance with another company.

Negligent Operator Treatment System

Negligent driving or “reckless driving” is a crime in Rhode Island.

NOLO defines reckless driving as driving “recklessly so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered.”

As used in the state, the word “recklessly” basically means the driver was aware of—or should have been aware of—but disregarded the dangerousness of the driving.

The consequences of a Rhode Island reckless driving violation depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties for a conviction are:

  • First offense. A first reckless driving conviction is a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $500 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. A second or subsequent reckless driving violation is a felony. Convicted motorists face up to five years in prison and/or a maximum $5,000 in fines.

For any reckless driving violation, a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend the driver’s license for up to a year. And for a third reckless driving conviction within a 12-month period, the DMV must revoke the driver’s license.

Rhode Island Rules of the Road

As you well know, driving violations and points on your record will most likely increase your car insurance rate. But don’t worry! In this section, we will cover Rhode Island’s must-know rules of the road.

Fault vs. No-Fault

Rhode Island is an at-fault or “fault” state. This means that anyone who causes an accident is responsible for covering the costs of any damages resulting from that accident, including personal injuries.

Having said that, the person who caused the accident may report a claim with his or her insurance company to help cover the costs of the accident.

In the case of this scenario, it’s better to have more insurance than the minimum amount required.

Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws

It’s important to the state of Rhode Island to keep all drivers and passengers safe while in a moving vehicle.

If you’re unsure about these state-specific seat belt laws, take a look at the table below.

Seat Belt LawsDetails
Effective SinceJune 18, 1991
Primary Enforcementyes; effective 6/30/11
Age/Seats Applicable18+ years in all seats
1st Offense Max Fine$40
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Adults aren’t the only ones who need to buckle up safely in the car. Children must be in the correct car seat while driving at all times.

Type of Car Seat RequiredAge
Rear-Facing Child Restraintyounger than 2 years or less than 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint
Preference for Rear Seatchildren 7 and younger must be in rear seat if available
Child Booster Seat7 years and younger and less than 57 inches and less than 80 pounds
Adult Belt Permissible7 years and younger who either weigh 80 pounds or more or who are at least 57 inches tall; 8 through 17
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The maximum base fine for breaking any of these laws the first time is $85. Additional fees may apply.

There are also restrictions against riding in the cargo area of a pick-up truck.

You will not be covered by your insurance company in the case of an accident if you are:

  • 16 and older
  • 15 and younger who are secured in the cargo area

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

We’ve all heard of “keep right or move over laws,” right?

In the state of Rhode Island, drivers are required to keep right if driving slower than the average speed of traffic.

However, state law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including roadside assistance vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, and slow to a safe speed.

Also included in the law are road maintenance vehicles.

Speed Limit Laws in Rhode Island

Do you know the speed limit laws on every type of road in Rhode Island? If you don’t, you are more likely to be pulled over for a speeding violation — and you know what that means — you’re insurance company is sure to raise your rates.

So pay attention to this table below as it highlights speed limits in Rhode Island.

Type of RoadwaySpeed Limit
Rural Interstates65 mph
Urban Interstates55 mph
Other Limited Access Roads55 mph
Other Roads55 mph
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Have you ever heard of Uber or Lyft? If you want to be employed by a company that offers ridesharing services, you must have what is called ridesharing insurance.

Currently, Geico and Liberty Mutual are the only two companies that offer ridesharing insurance in the state of Rhode Island.

Although both Geico and Liberty Mutual have ridesharing insurance, they may have separate requirements for obtaining it.

Automation on the Road

What is automation?

According to the IIHS, in driving, automation involves using radar, camera, and other sensors to perform parts or all of the driving tasks on a sustained basis instead of the driver.

Rhode Island does not currently have any laws about automation. But stay tuned because automation in cars is the future if driving.

Safety Laws in Rhode Island

We’ve talked about the rules of the road, but now it’s time to discuss Rhode Island’s safety laws. In this section, we will highlight laws about DUIs, impaired driving, distracted driving, and more.

First, let’s start with DUI laws.

DUI Laws

In 2017, there were 34 traffic fatalities in Rhode Island resulting from alcohol-impaired drivers. These 34 lost lives are the reason Rhode Island has such strict drinking and driving laws.

Take a look at some of these DUI laws in the table below.

Name for OffenseDriving under the influence (DUI)
BAC Limit0.08
High BAC Limit0.15
Criminal Status1st-2nd non-injury misdemeanors, 3rd+ non-injury felony. DUI w/serious bodily injury is felony.
Look Back Period5 years
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What are the penalties for drinking and driving?

DUI PenaltyALS or RevocationImprisonmentFineOther
1st Offense60 days - 18 monthsno minimum, but up to 1 year or 10-60 hours community service$100-$500 +$500 to hwy assessment fundpossible attendance to treatment program; SR-22 insurance
2nd Offense1-2 years10 days - 1 year$400mandatory alcohol treatment program, IID for 1-2 years
3rd Offense2-3 years1-5 years$400-$5000 +$500 to hwy assessment fundvehicle may be seized or forfeited, mandatory treatment program, IID for 2 years
4th OffenseSame as 3rdSame as 3rdSame as 3rdSame as 3rd
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As you can see, there are different punishments depending on how many times you break the law and drink and drive.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

In Rhode Island, there is a zero tolerance policy for THC and metabolites. If you get caught doing drugs while driving, you could have your license suspended, face jail time, and have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of fines.

Even if you aren’t technically doing marijuana while driving and you are consuming a different drug, law enforcement can still convict you of impaired driving.

Next time you’re considering doing drugs, think twice. Impaired driving isn’t a laughing matter, so don’t even mess with the law. If convicted, your insurance company is sure to raise your car insurance rate.

Distracted Driving Laws

Although technology can be a wonderful thing when used appropriately, sometimes it can be life-threatening. Studies have shown that the effects of texting and driving can be worse than drinking and driving.

Here are the rules about using your cell phone while driving in Rhode Island.

Distracted Driving LawsDetails
Hand-held banall drivers
Text banall drivers
Young drivers all cellphone bandrivers younger than 18
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Primary enforcement means that any law enforcement officer has the right to pull you over even if he or she suspects you are using your phone inappropriately while driving.

Driving in Rhode Island

We’ve covered the safety rules of the road, but now it’s time to get into Rhode Island’s risks of the road.

We are going to address topics like vehicle theft, traffic fatalities, traffic congestion, and crash reports. Being aware of these things can help you avoid accidents, theft, and even sitting in traffic jams.

It’s great to have insurance, but as we stated before, we want to help you avoid tragedy so you can keep your rate nice and low. Don’t go away, vehicle theft is up first.

Vehicle Theft in Rhode Island

Did you know some vehicles are more frequently stolen than others?

Make/ModelYear of VehicleThefts
Honda Accord1997101
Honda Civic199895
Toyota Camry201469
Nissan Maxima200045
Toyota Corolla201440
Nissan Altima201338
Ford Pickup (Full Size)200336
Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee199932
Honda CR-V199927
Toyota Avalon200018
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The data above shows the top ten most stolen vehicles in the state of Rhode Island. The year listed is the most popular model stolen. Keep in mind that if your car is stolen, comprehensive insurance will most likely replace it.

Where you live can play a role in vehicle theft as well. The list below is pulled from the FBI and shows the cities in Rhode Island where vehicle theft occurred the most in 2016.

Central Falls48
East Greenwich3
East Providence40
Little Compton0
New Shoreham30
North Kingstown10
North Providence44
North Smithfield8
South Kingstown16
West Greenwich3
West Warwick27
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Some of these cities have zero theft, and no, that’s not a typo, that’s correct.

Road Fatalities in Rhode Island

In the year 2017, there were 83 traffic fatalities in the state of Rhode Island. But what were the causes of these fatalities? How did they happen? Where did they happen? Did it just take the EMS a really long time to reach the victim?

We will answer all of these questions and more in this next section.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

According to this table, most of the fatalities in this list surprisingly happened in broad daylight. A couple of them occurred in the rain, but other than that, the weather really wasn’t the culprit for traffic fatalities.

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
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Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

Below is a list showing the number of fatalities per year by county.

County NameFatalities
Per 100k
Bristol County0211104.
Kent County9979175.485.474.285.510.38
Newport County851239.666.
Providence County39292628486.194.594.14.417.53
Washington County961011147.124.757.938.7311.1
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Traffic Fatalities Rural vs Urban

Usually, more fatalities happen in the country than they do in the city.

Since the state of Rhode Island is so small, traffic fatalities seemed to happen more in populated areas, probably because there are more cars on the road and the chances of getting into an accident were also much higher.

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Fatalities by Person Type

Does the type of vehicle and person type play a role in traffic fatalities?

 Person Type20132014201520162017
OccupantsPassenger Car2917181935
Light Truck - Pickup43343
Light Truck - Utility33566
Light Truck - Van11104
Total Occupants3726283149
Large Truck01111
Other/Unknown Occupants01000
Light Truck - Other00010
MotorcyclistsTotal Motorcyclists11109411
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist30022
Total Nonoccupants171581623
Other/Unknown Nonoccupants01000
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Fatalities by Crash Type

Crash Type20132014201520162017
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)6551455183
(1) Single Vehicle4439273657
(2) Involving a Large Truck52128
(3) Involving Speeding1713202341
(4) Involving a Rollover87121111
(5) Involving a Roadway Departure3624232347
(6) Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)18107812
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Five-Year Fatality Trend For The Top Five Counties

Normally, this study is supposed to cover ten counties, but in the case of Rhode Island, there are only five.

County NameFatalities
of Total
Providence County39292628486057585558
Kent County9979171418161820
Washington County961011141412222217
Newport County851231210244
Bristol County0211104221
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Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

Speeding is another major cause of fatalities in Rhode Island.

Per 100k
Bristol County0100102.04002.04
Kent County324561.831.222.443.053.66
Newport County301123.6201.21.22.4
Providence County971012211.431.111.581.893.29
Washington County2355111.582.383.963.978.72
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Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver (BAC = .08+) by County

Thirty-four innocent victims lost their lives as a result of drunk driving in 2017.

Per 100k
Bristol County0000100002.04
Kent County342561.832.431.223.053.66
Newport County510006.041.21000
Providence County1071111181.591.111.741.732.82
Washington County4454103.173.173.963.187.93
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If you choose to drink and drive, you are risking ruining your life and someone else’s.

Teen Drinking and Driving

Teens don’t have a lot of experience driving because usually, they’ve only had a license for a year or two. If you add alcohol with a lack of driving experience, you’re in for a dangerous ride.

Number of Under 18 DWI Arrests:Total Per One Million People (DUI Under 18 Arrests):Rank:
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In 26 states and D.C., under-21 alcohol-impaired related driving fatalities per 100,000 population were at or below the national average of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

Rhode Island is ranked 37th in the U.S. for teen drinking and driving related arrests. That’s not a great number.

In 2016, Rhode Island ranked at .8 deaths per 100,000 people. While that’s not a super high number, drinking and driving are still one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities.

Up next, let’s move on to EMS response time.

EMS Response Time

EMS response time could mean the difference between life and death. Showing up seconds too late could result in losing a victim.

If you are involved in an accident, you need to make sure you call emergency services immediately because you never know the seriousness of someone’s injuries.

EMS response time is usually faster in the city than it is in rural areas. This could be because cities are usually more heavily populated with places like hospitals and fire stations.

AreaTime of Crash to EMS NotificationEMS Notification to EMS ArrivalEMS Arrival at Scene to Hospital ArrivalTime of Crash to Hospital ArrivalTotal Fatal Crashes
Rural3.69 mins7.82 mins39.11 mins48.78 mins17
Urban7.44 mins6.39 mins25.53 mins36.38 mins59
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It’s interesting that there are more fatal crashes in the city than there are in rural areas. Also, it takes on average about three more minutes for an EMS team to reach a victim involved in a car accident in the city than in the country.


Have you ever wondered how many cars your neighbors own? Did you know that how many cars you own can affect your car insurance rate? If you have multiple cars listed on your policy, you should be able to qualify for a multi-car discount.

Car Ownership

Rhode Island residents own an average of two cars. The orange bars represent Rhode Island and the gray bars represent the national average.

Car Ownership in Rhode Island

Commute Time

According to Data USA, using averages, employees in Rhode Island have a shorter commute time (23.9 minutes) than the normal US worker (25.5 minutes). Additionally, 2.36 percent of the workforce in Rhode Island have “super commutes” in excess of 90 minutes.

Commute Time in Rhode Island

Commuter Transportation

79.4 percent of commuters drove alone to work in 2017. Almost ten percent carpooled to work.

Commuter Transportation in Rhode Island

Traffic Congestion in Rhode Island

According to TomTom, Providence is 293rd most traffic congested city in the world. Not bad!

CityWorld Traffic
Rank 2018
Level on
Travel Time
Providence29319%13 Mins
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Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about Rhode Island car insurance, it’s time to start shopping for a great rate! To get started, enter your zip code in the box below for a free quote.

Good luck and happy shopping.