Delaware state law mandates that motorists in the First State carry three basic levels of car insurance: Bodily Injury (BI), Property Damage (PD) and Personal Injury Protection, otherwise known as PIP.
Delaware’s mandatory auto insurance laws
Delaware residents are required by state statutes to obey Delaware’s Financial Responsibility (FR) Law, which states that drivers must be able to prove financial responsibility in the event of a vehicle accident.
The majority of Delawareans meet this statute by purchasing a Delaware auto insurance policy that meets the state required minimums of insurance.
According to state statutes, the minimum amounts of liability insurance that meet Delaware’s FR law requirements are:
- $15,000 – bodily injury (BI), one person
- $30,000 – bodily injury, per accident
- $10,000 – property damage (PD)
BI and PD coverage protects you in the event that you are found liable for having caused an accident. Your BI coverage will pay for another’s injuries or death up to the limits you have purchased. Any difference will come out of your pocket.
PD protects you in the event that you caused an accident by covering any property damages to another. Again, you are covered up to the limit you have purchased.
Speak to your auto insurance agent to ensure that you have adequate coverage.
Personal Injury Protection
- $15,000 – bodily injury, one person
- $30,000 – bodily injury, per accident
Motorists in the state of Delaware are required to carry PIP. This coverage protects you whether or not you are found to be at fault in the event of a car accident. Medical costs and lost wages are covered by your auto insurance policy for both you and any passengers you are carrying at the time of the accident. Your PIP coverage will also cover up to $5,000 for funeral-related costs.
Note: To meet Delaware’s state requirements, your car insurance liability policy must be issued by an agency or company licensed to do business in the state of Delaware. To confirm whether or not the auto insurance company you are working with is licensed in Delaware, consumers can call the toll-free number found at the end of this article.
Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured (UIM) coverage — optional in Delaware
While UM/UIM coverage is optional for Delaware residents, uninsured and underinsured motorists are an issue in any state. UM/UIM auto insurance coverage protects you in the event that you sustain losses in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. This optional insurance provides coverage for you also if a driver flees the scene of an accident.
Registering your vehicle in Delaware
When registering your vehicle with the state of Delaware, you must provide evidence of carrying the proper insurance on that vehicle. This requirement can be met by showing one of the following:
- Your Delaware auto insurance ID card. It is mandatory to have this ID card in your vehicle, in the event that you are stopped. Your card must reflect the current policy period and contain the National Association of Insurance Commissioners code. Photocopies will not be accepted.
- Your current auto insurance policy covering the current period.
- An auto insurance binder issued by an authorized vehicle insurance agency or company on company letterhead. The binder must have been issued within the previous thirty days.
Required vehicle inspection
In the state of Delaware, before your vehicle registration is complete, you must have your vehicle pass an inspection. Inspections are performed at a location approved by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Teen drivers in your household
Talk to your Delaware auto insurance agent about when to add a teen driver to your current policy. Some auto insurance companies in Delaware do not require you to add the teen driver until (s)he has been licensed as an unrestricted motorist; other companies will insist that any teens in your household be made additional drivers on your policy the day of receiving their driver’s learning permit.
Of course, when a teen driver has been added to your policy, your premium rates will go up. One way to lessen the impact of higher premiums is to consider purchasing a less expensive used car for that teen. Financially, allowing your young driver to use your newer and more costly automobile will impact your premium rate more than having them drive a less expensive, economy car with the minimum legal auto insurance coverages, saving you money in the long run.
If your teen earns A’s or B’s in school, ask your agent if your insurance company offers what is known as a “good student discount.”
If you drive a leased vehicle, or if you have financed your vehicle through a commercial lender—either way, the leaser or lender is going to require that you carry additional auto insurance on your vehicle so that they can protect their asset.
Penalties for driving uninsured
If you are caught driving without insurance in the state of Delaware, you face fines and having your vehicle plates and/or driving privileges suspended. The state also runs random checks on vehicles registered in the state to identify any vehicles that are operating without the minimum required insurance coverages.
Average annual auto insurance cost
According to Insure.com, the 2011 average annual premium for auto insurance rates for Delawareans is $1,489, just slightly under the national average of $1,561.
Delaware Insurance Department www.delawareinsurance.gov
Delaware Commissioner’s Consumer Services
Tel 800-282-8611, toll-free in Delaware
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles www.dmv.de.gov