Last updated on April 26th, 2018
In order to register a vehicle with the DMV in the state of Rhode Island the vehicle owner must ensure that the vehicle is covered with minimum levels of liability insurance as required by the state. These minimum levels currently sit at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage as well as $25,000 in property damage coverage. Liability coverage essentially functions to financially protect other drivers from the policy holder while also protecting the policy holder from the legal and financial implications of an accident that they caused. Bodily injury liability coverage will pay for the injuries suffered by any secondary parties at the hands of a policy holder; basically meaning that it will pay for the injuries of all drivers involved in the accident except those of the policy holder. Property damage liability coverage works in much the same way, except instead of financially reimbursing other drivers for their injuries it serves to financially reimburse other drivers for any property damage suffered at the hands of the policy holder. Because liability car insurance depends so much on the safety and driving ability of the policy holder before a Rhode Island car insurance company writes a policy they will typically use the customer’s driving history to help calculate their premiums. Drivers with a history of auto accidents, especially ones that were their fault, will usually be charged much higher premiums than a driver with a clean driving history. When registering a vehicle in Rhode Island the vehicle owner must also sign a statement agreeing to maintain continuous coverage on their vehicle while it is actively registered with the DMV. If at any time while the vehicle is actively registered the vehicle owner allows insurance on the vehicle to lapse or cancels the policy altogether they will be subject to penalties from the DMV for failure to maintain insurance.
As in most states, Rhode Island allows for the purchase of other types of auto insurance coverage not required by the state as well as the purchase of liability coverage in excess of the amounts mandated by the state. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, while not an official requirement in Rhode Island, is recommended by the state for most drivers. Uninsured and underinsured motorist serves to protect the policy holder if they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or a driver that does not have enough coverage to cover the entire costs of the accident. Since Rhode Island uses a fault based system which places the financial responsibility for the accident on the driver found to be at fault, if a driver is involved in an accident and the at-fault driver either has no coverage or not enough coverage they would be in a position where they would have to pay for the costs of an accident even though they were not at fault. This type of coverage is also meant to help limit law suits over car accidents by reducing the need of a driver to take an at-fault driver to court in order to recoup any money they had to pay out of pocket for injuries resulting from an accident. Rhode Island residents also have the option of purchasing comprehensive and collision coverage which will pay for any physical damage to the insured vehicle regardless of who is at fault or how the damage is caused to the vehicle.
In the state of Rhode Island it is a requirement that all drivers carry proof of insurance on them at all times while operating a vehicle. If a Rhode Island resident is pulled over or involved in a traffic accident and is not able to provide proof of insurance to the law enforcement officer on the scene they will receive a citation which will require them to provide proof of insurance to the court within 15 days. If the driver cannot provide proof of insurance for the time noted on the citation the driver’s license will be suspended and their vehicle registration will be revoked. The reinstatement of a suspended license and registration will require the motorist to provide proof of insurance to the DMV. Additionally, there are a handful of fees and fines that must be satisfied before a driver can have their driving privileges reinstated by the DMV. In most instances, the fines and fees resulting from a driver being caught without car insurance in Rhode Island can reach $500 or more. Drivers that are caught driving without car insurance in Rhode Island will also be required by the DMV to file an SR-22 with the state. The SR-22 serves as a sort of guarantee that car insurance will be maintained on a vehicle because the insurance company will notify the state at any time if the insurance policy is cancelled or not renewed.