Drivers in Rhode Island – the “Ocean” state – are required to carry at least the minimum auto insurance coverages in order to be on the road legally. However, if your driving record includes things like traffic accidents or motor vehicle violations, it may be difficult to find an auto insurer willing to cover you. Why? Because these records make insurers think you have a higher chance to file for claims, and insurers want to avoid losses. If you are refused auto insurance coverage, the Rhode Island Automobile Insurance Plan (RI AIP) may be your best bet. If you meet the eligibility criteria described below, you should be able to find auto insurance coverage in at least the minimum amounts of 25/50/25 for liability.
What is the Rhode Island Automobile Insurance Plan (RI AIP)?
The Rhode Island Auto Insurance Plan has been around since 1968. Insurers licensed in Rhode Island have the freedom to choose the type of drivers they prefer to cover in the voluntary market. The Plan is an assigned risk plan and essentially the residual market for Rhode Island auto insurance. It is created to ensure that RI drivers, who most companies would prefer not to insure, have access to at least the state minimum car insurance as well. As of 2014, there was around 16,000 (about 21% of all licensed drivers in RI) drivers in the Plan's assigned risk pool.
The RI AIP is the mechanism to share the costs of high risk motorists across all the insurance companies in the state. Put another way, Rhode Island requires all licensed auto insurers to cover a share of high risk drivers in order to do ANY auto insurance business in the state. The Rhode Island AIP calculates each insurer’s market share in Rhode Island, and assigns an equivalent share of high risk drivers to respective insurers.
So while the Rhode Island Division of Insurance considers the RI AIP to be a last resort, it is there for you if you need it. Remember that you will be assigned an insurer, rather than choosing one yourself.
Rhode Island AIP Eligibility
In order to obtain coverage through the RI AIP, you have to attest on your insurance application that you have tried to find auto insurance in Rhode Island within the last 60 days, without success. If this is the case, then you also need a car registered in Rhode Island and a valid driver’s license. Be sure to fill out the application fully and accurately – your insurer may verify your information.
- Your application for insurance coverage through the Rhode Island AIP may be held up if:
- You have an unpaid auto insurance premium bill with any insurer within the last 12 months
- You’ve opted for Physical Damage Coverage but not presented your car for inspection
- Your application omits or misrepresents important information about you or your driving record
The good news is that your application can proceed immediately once you pay the outstanding premium or bring your car for inspection by a designated insurance representative. The bad news is that if your application is deemed to have been made in bad faith, the Rhode Island AIP can refuse to insure you and make you wait 12 months before you can re-apply to the Plan.
Rhode Island AIP Coverage
Auto insurance coverage that you receive through the Rhode Island AIP is designed to be the same as what other drivers in the state receive. However, your RI auto insurance premium may be higher. Once you are assigned an insurer, that coverage will last for 3 years. Mandatory coverages that you must buy are shown in the table below. While the minimum levels will cost you less, you should consider purchasing more than the minimums in order to have auto insurance protection that is appropriate for your needs.
There are additional coverages that your assigned insurer must, by law, offer you - but are basically optional because you may reject them in writing if you choose. Medical Payments will be offered, but you can refuse. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury can be rejected entirely, or you can select a coverage level lower than what you selected for Liability Bodily Injury. Uninsured Motorist Property Damage is only offered at $25,000 per accident, and comes with a $200 deductible, but again you can reject it. Finally, Comprehensive and Collision coverages are offered, each with a choice of deductibles: $100, $200, $500, or $1,000.
|Rhode Island AIP Min. Limits||Rhode Island AIP Maximum Limits|
|$2,500 per person / accident||$2,500 per person / accident|
|Actual cash value of your car, up to a max of $75,000||No higher limit|
|$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident||cannot exceed the BI limits chosen|
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
|$25,000 per accident||$25,000 per accident|
Note that the Rhode Island AIP offers coverage for cars, pickup trucks, vans, motorcycles, motor homes and even antique autos of 25 years or more.
Rhode Island AIP Premiums and Payment Plans
An auto insurance policy obtained through the Plan tends to cost more than the average Rhode Island policy. But there is no magic formula for knowing just how much more. Rhode Island’s auto insurers use different sets of criteria to evaluate you as a risk, and price your policy. It pays to know the factors auto insurance companies are likely to consider, so that you can take actions over time to reduce your insurance premiums.
High risk drivers in Rhode Island are also offered the same payment options as other drivers. These include:
- Paying the full annual premium along with your application.
- Paying 30% of the full annual premium as a deposit with your application, and the 70% balance within 30 days of receiving your policy.
- Paying in installments. This involves paying a deposit of at least 15% of the entire annual premium up front with your application. Then you will be billed in 9 equal monthly installments until the entire premium is paid. A $5 charge is added to the monthly bill is you choose this payment option.
In the happy event that your driving record improves and you succeed in finding auto insurance in Rhode Island’s voluntary auto insurance market, you can notify your assigned insurer of this fact, and receive a prorated refund of your auto insurance premium. “Voluntary” is insurance industry terminology for the regular market where most Rhode Islanders find auto insurance.
How Do I Get Insurance through the Rhode Island Automobile Insurance Plan?
Any licensed auto insurer in Rhode Island can explain the RIAIP to you, and help you apply for coverage - or just to get an auto insurance quote - if that’s appropriate for you.
To learn more about the RIAIP, call Rhode Island’s Division of Insurance Regulation for consumers at 401-462-9520.