Last updated: July 2022
Delaware might be the nation’s “First State,” but drivers here don’t have special privileges; they need auto insurance like residents of almost every other state. To make sure our Delaware drivers are following auto insurance laws, we’ve put together this handy little guide. We’ll walk through minimum requirements, penalties for driving without insurance, optional coverages, and more!
Personal Auto Insurance
Ever been shopping for auto insurance and wondered what you’re getting exactly? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Auto insurance can get a little confusing, so we’re here to simplify things.
At its core, auto insurance is simply a contract between you and the insurance company of your choosing that protects you from financial losses in the event of an accident. You pay a certain amount of money (a premium), either upfront or in installments, for your coverage. In return, your insurer agrees to cover your losses as defined in your policy documents. Just about every state has certain mandatory car insurance coverages included on every policy and additional options you can purchase to protect yourself and your loved ones better.
Car Insurance Coverages Required in Delaware
Wondering about car insurance laws in Delaware? Residents of the Blue Hen State are required to carry bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP).
What is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?
If you cause a crash that injures someone else, your bodily injury liability coverage can help pay for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition to medical expenses, bodily injury liability coverage can help pay for the victim’s funeral expenses and your legal fees if you’re sued.
It is worth noting that bodily injury liability coverage under your own policy will not typically cover your own injuries that result from an accident.
What is Property Damage Liability Coverage?
If you cause an accident that damages someone else’s property, your property damage liability coverage will help pay for their financial losses. While many people think property damage coverage only protects the vehicle, it also covers things like guardrails, fences, mailboxes, storefronts, and more.
Remember, property damage liability coverage will not pay for any damages to your own vehicle. You will need collision coverage if you want to make sure your car is protected.
What is Personal Injury Protection?
While PIP coverage is often called “no-fault insurance,” Delaware is still an at-fault state. Its PIP coverage requirement helps you pay for your own expenses after an accident, even when you are at fault. PIP coverage can help you pay for medical fees, lost wages, service expenses (like childcare while you recover), and funeral expenses, regardless of fault.
Delaware Minimum Insurance Limits
Every insurance policy has coverage limits, representing the highest dollar amount your insurer will pay after a covered loss as outlined in your policy. Minimum insurance limits are the smallest amounts of coverage you can purchase and still be street legal. These minimum liability coverage limits are often written out with three numbers. For example, in Delaware, the minimum limits are 25/50/10, meaning you must have:
- $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $10,000 of property damage coverage
In addition, you must carry PIP coverage in 15/30 amounts, meaning you must have:
- $15,000 of PIP coverage per person
- $30,000 of PIP coverage per accident
PIP coverage in Delaware also comes with a $5,000 allotment for funeral bills. Although these amounts listed above will ensure you’re complying with all laws, the Delaware Department of Insurance notes the minimum limits are “relatively low.” You might want to consider purchasing additional coverage.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Delaware
Thinking about driving without insurance in Delaware? Think again! Whenever a police officer stops you, you must show valid proof of insurance. If you simply forgot your insurance card, you should be able to avoid any punishment. As of 2014, you can show your ID card on your phone if you have a digital copy downloaded or if your insurer has an app. However, if you’re convicted of driving without insurance, you face steep fines and could lose your driving privileges, according to the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles. First-time offenders will be fined no less than $1,500, and each subsequent charge within three years will result in a $3,000 fine. If the financial consequences don’t scare you, losing your driving privileges might. That’s right; you could also face a six-month driver’s license suspension.
Optional Coverages in Delaware
As we noted above, liability-only car insurance is the bare minimum. You’ll be complying with state laws, but you might not feel fully protected in the event of an accident. This is why auto insurers in Delaware offer additional coverage options.
What Is Collision Coverage?
Delaware law doesn’t mandate collision coverage, but your lending institution might require you to carry collision insurance if you lease or finance your vehicle. If you’re involved in a covered accident, collision insurance will pay to repair or replace your vehicle, regardless of fault. It does not pay for bodily injuries. Here are some examples of situations covered by collision:
- Your car collides with another automobile or motorcycle
- Your vehicle is hit by another driver who flees the scene
- Your car strikes a telephone pole, mailbox, or another stationary object
- Your car flips over
What Is Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive insurance is not a state-mandated coverage in Delaware. However, much like collision coverage, a lending institution will typically require you to carry comprehensive coverage if you lease or finance your ride. Sometimes called “other than collision coverage,” comprehensive insurance pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged by something other than a traditional accident, like:
- Fallen tree branches
- Contact with a deer or other animal
- Vandalism or theft
- Natural disasters
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
It would be nice if everybody followed the rules of the road and had state-approved coverage in force, but some drivers choose to get behind the wheel without an appropriate insurance policy. In Delaware, approximately 8.5% of drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute. To protect yourself from these individuals, you might consider adding uninsured motorist coverage to your policy. If someone crashes into you and doesn’t have insurance (or if they flee the scene), your uninsured motorist coverage would help pay for your injuries and to repair or replace your vehicle. It essentially serves as a stand-in for the insurance the other driver should have been carrying. The property damage element to uninsured motorist coverage comes with a $250 deductible in Delaware, so be prepared to pay that if you’re about to file a claim.
What is underinsured motorist coverage?
In some states, like Delaware, there is underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage helps protect you if the other driver has an insurance policy, but their limits aren’t high enough to pay your bills. Underinsured motorist coverage only applies to bodily injuries in Delaware, so it’s important to carry collision coverage if you also want your car protected.
What Is Towing and Labor Coverage?
Car won’t start or unsafe to drive after an accident? If you have towing and labor coverage on your policy, you’re covered for tows to the repair shop and labor charges for services to get your car running again. Generally speaking, it’s only available if you purchase comprehensive and collision coverage. It’s also worth noting that if you’re a member of an auto club (like Direct’s Roadside Assistance Offering), you might already have coverage for this type of incident.
What Is Rental Reimbursement Coverage?
If you’re in an accident, there’s a good chance your car needs some work. But how do you get around while your vehicle is in the repair shop? After all, rental cars can be pretty expensive. Well, with rental reimbursement coverage, you’ll get help paying for the cost of your temporary ride. Please note that rental reimbursement coverage is typically only an option if you’ve purchased comprehensive and collision coverage.
Delaware Nonstandard Auto Insurance
Do any of these bullet points describe your driving situation? If so, you might be a high-risk driver:
- Had previous insurance coverage lapses
- Never purchased a policy before
- Just received your driver’s license
- Been in an at-fault accident (or more than one)*
- Received more than one speeding ticket*
- Were recently convicted of DUI/DWI*
- Recently received several traffic citations*
- Have a below-par credit history
- Filed multiple insurance claims recently*
- Own a valuable vehicle
If you’re a high-risk driver, don’t sweat it. You just might need to run a search for high-risk (or nonstandard) auto insurance. While not every company offers high-risk coverage, some insurers, like Direct Auto, specialize in nonstandard auto coverage! We work with high-risk drivers to find affordable coverage options, and we won’t consider you high-risk forever if you keep driving responsibly over the coming months and years!
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost in Delaware?
Wondering how much car insurance costs in Delaware? You’re not the first person to ask, but the answer isn’t straightforward. After all, your car insurance premium depends on many factors, like
- The coverages you want and the limits you choose
- The make, model, and year of your vehicle
- The amount you drive and the location you drive
- Your demographic information
- Your driving record
- Your credit history
Generally speaking, Delaware has been one of the more expensive states for car insurance in recent years. Only a handful of states had more expensive average premiums. This doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable coverage, though! Companies like Direct Auto offer plenty of discounts, flexible payment options, and more to make paying for insurance easier.
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Delaware Insurance Resources
- Delaware Department of Insurance
- Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles
- Delaware’s Instant Auto Insurance Guide