UPDATED: Feb 28, 2018
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Delaware state laws require that all drivers have an auto insurance policy that meets legal minimum limits. These laws ensure that everyone on the road is financially responsible for at-fault accidents and that no one will be unable to provide for damages caused. Delaware’s law requires a very basic liability insurance policy.
Delaware requires every driver to carry liability coverage for bodily injury and for damage to property. The minimums required by law are:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury and death that occurs as the result of an at-fault accident, and $25,000 per incident for multiple people injured in the same accident
- $10,000 to pay for damage to another person’s vehicle or any other personal property damaged as the result of an at-fault accident
Delaware also requires each driver to carry Person Injury Protection (PIP) often called “no-fault” car insurance. The minimum requirements for PIP coverage are $15,000 for bodily injury for one person and $30,000 for injury when there are multiple people involved in an accident. Often, PIP coverage includes up to $5,000 for funeral expenses.
Because the legal minimums may not be sufficient to cover the damage done in a serious accident, many drivers choose to increase their liability limits. Higher limits provide better protection and prevent financial hardships that can result when insurance is not adequate to cover all of the costs.
Increasing liability limits is just one of the options that are available to Delaware drivers to better protect them from the financial impact of a car accident. Auto insurance companies offer a range of different options, including:
- Collision coverage to pay for damage to your own vehicle in the event of an at-fault accident. Without this coverage, you will be responsible for any damage to your own vehicle when you are found at fault. This coverage usually has a deductible that must be paid for coverage to apply.
- Comprehensive coverage to pay for any damages other than those caused by a collision. Damage that falls under this coverage includes theft, vandalism, fire, weather, and any other non-accident damage.
- Glass repair and replacement are also usually covered under comprehensive. This coverage also has a deductible.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage to pay for any damage done by another driver who has either no insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all of the damage.
- Rental Reimbursement coverage to pay for alternate transportation during repairs to your vehicle during a covered claim.
- Towing & Labor coverage to pay for towing and associated costs for a non-accident roadside emergency.
Insurance companies in Delaware may offer a variety of other optional coverage choices; these can differ from company to company and allow each driver to customize their insurance policy to meet their particular needs.
Proof of Insurance Laws and Penalties
In Delaware, drivers must not only have insurance that meets the legal minimums, they must also carry proof of insurance at all times when on the road. Drivers are required by law to present proof of insurance to police officers during traffic stops and at the scene of an accident.
Drivers who fail to carry the required insurance will face fines in addition to other penalties. Delaware’s fines for driving uninsured are among the highest in the country.
For a first offense, drivers will be fined $1,500. Second and subsequent offenses face a penalty of $3,000 as well as a 6-month suspension of driving privileges.
When canceling an insurance policy on a vehicle and not replacing it with another, drivers are required to relinquish their plates to the DMV. The DMV tracks insurance information and will penalize drivers who are found not to be in compliance.
Shopping For Car Insurance in Delaware
Delaware car insurance rates rank among the higher costs in the nation on average, according to a 2017 Insure.com comparison study. The state ranks 9th overall and has an annual rate approximately $200 higher than the national average.
Delaware drivers can shop around for their car insurance in order to obtain a better rate. The Delaware Department of Insurance offers a rate comparison service on their website to help drivers shop for insurance and find the best rates on a policy that suits their needs. The Department of Insurance also keeps records of complaints against insurance companies to help consumers make the best decision.
While credit scores can be used to help determine insurance rates, Delaware law is strict in terms of how they can be used.
Some drivers may find it difficult to obtain insurance as a result of problems with driving records or other issues. These drivers are considered high-risk, and face higher rates or in some cases are turned down for insurance altogether on the voluntary market.
To ensure that all drivers are able to get the insurance they need to be on the road legally, the state of Delaware offers the Delaware Automobile Insurance Plan, which assigns high-risk drivers to an insurance company. This system spreads the risk among all of the insurance companies in Delaware and ensures everyone has access to car insurance. Rates through this program are still high, and it is considered a last-resort option for drivers who have been denied coverage by multiple companies.
Teen Drivers in Delaware
Delaware’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) program ensures that teen drivers learn new driving skills over time. The Delaware program uses a two-level system rather than the three stages in most states but requires the completion of a driver education program prior to obtaining the stage one permit. The first level is also broken into two stages.
Level One Permit
In order to obtain the level one permit to drive, teens must first meet the following requirements:
- The teen must be at least 16 years of age
- The teen must complete an approved driver education course and present a certificate of completion
- The teen must have a sponsor, usually a parent or guardian, sign to take on liability for the teen
There are two stages to the Level One Permit.
For the first six months the teen must:
- Have a supervising driver in the vehicle at all times who is at least 25 years old and have held their license for a minimum of 5 years.
- Complete 50 hours of driving practice, with 10 of those hours at night
- There must only be a maximum of 1 other passenger other than your supervising driver in the car
For the second six months with the Level One Permit, the teen must:
- Not drive between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., unless with a supervising driver or for approved work, church, or school activities
- Not have more than one passenger other than a supervising driver in the vehicle, with the exception of family members
Class D Driver’s License
After 12 months with a Level One Permit without any suspensions for a year, a teen driver who is at least 17 years old can graduate to a Class D Driver’s License. With this license, teens can drive with no further restrictions.
All teen drivers in Delaware are required to meet the same insurance requirements as adults. In most cases, a parent or guardian will take responsibility for providing insurance until the teen establishes a separate residence. Teens away at school can remain on the parent or guardian’s policy.
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