Wise to Insure Yourself Against Uninsured Drivers in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in New England. Therefore, it is important to add uninsured-motorist coverage to your auto-insurance policy before an accident with an uninsured driver puts a potentially big dent in your piggy bank.

Uninsured Driver Statistics

A study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), a nonprofit division of the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America, estimated that one in six drivers in the United States does not have car insurance.

The IRC study found a strong correlation between the number of uninsured motorists and the national unemployment rate. Accordingly, even though the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists decreased from 2003 to 2007, the number of uninsured drivers is expected to have increased because of the 2009 recession.

The IRC’s state-by-state analysis of uninsured motorists revealed that Rhode Island had the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in New England in 2007, the latest year for which data is available. According to the study, 14 percent of Rhode Island drivers did not have auto insurance.

In an interesting contrast, three other New England states were among the five states with the lowest rates of uninsured drivers:

  • Massachusetts: one percent
  • Maine: four percent
  • Vermont: six percent

Uninsured-Motorist Insurance

Basic auto-insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage or injuries caused by other drivers – they only pay for damage caused by the insured driver. Therefore, if you are in an >accident with an uninsured driver, you may be stuck paying for the damage to your car and any medical treatment for your injuries, even if you have car insurance.

Fortunately, it is possible to buy additional insurance to protect against uninsured drivers. Uninsured-motorist insurance covers both damage to your vehicle and any medical expenses related to an accident that is caused by an uninsured driver.

In addition, underinsured-motorist insurance provides funds for accidents caused by drivers who carry only the minimum liability insurance required by state law. Underinsured-motorist insurance will make up the difference between the amount the at-fault driver’s insurance pays, and the actual price of your repairs and medical care.

Uninsured- and underinsured-motorist insurance is especially valuable during an economic downturn when drivers are more likely to buy only the minimum amount of insurance required or drive without insurance altogether. With uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, drivers will not have to worry about paying for accident repairs themselves or recovering money from an at-fault driver directly in a personal injury lawsuit.

Broadly, Rhode Island law requires that insurance companies offer uninsured- and underinsured-motorist coverage with every policy. However, in some circumstances consumers may reject this type of coverage in writing and with proper notice of the “hazard of uninsured and underinsured motorists.”

Notwithstanding the option not to purchase uninsured and underinsured coverage, Rhode Island drivers would be wise to make this investment considering the unusually high proportion of uninsured drivers with whom potential accidents could occur.

Selecting Additional Coverage

When selecting uninsured- and underinsured-motorist insurance, consider the following tips:

  • Shop around – there are many types of policies available
  • Compare prices among insurance providers
  • Avoid buying on price alone – it is important to have adequate coverage and reliable customer support
  • Educate yourself about insurance terms and consult consumer-friendly information sources

If you have been in an accident and have questions about uninsured- and underinsured-motorist coverage or your auto-insurance policy, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area.



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