VIEWPOINT: Do Del. car insurance minimums really protect drivers?
Nearly every state has at least a certain amount of car insurance that drivers must carry in order to use their roads. These requirements are often referred to as minimums because they are the bare minimum of car insurance that a driver can carry in order to drive legally. Delaware is one such state that has its own minimums in place. Drivers looking to save on car insurance will ask themselves if they can get by with the lowest amount of car insurance possible.
For the most part, the answer is everyone would be better off well beyond the minimum car insurance requirements. However, because Delaware isn’t exactly New York or California, there is some more leeway than normal for lower car insurance rates. To answer this question in the case of Delaware, let’s really look at the minimum car insurance requirements of the Diamond State.
Delaware enforces general liability car insurance with the 25/50/10 rule that is present in other states. This isn’t an official rule, but a handy way of remembering the minimum limits of basic liability coverage – at least $25,000 in bodily injury per person, $50,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 in property damage. What also makes Delaware unique with its car insurance requirements is also at least $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) with $30,000 per accident. This is so the driver at-fault for the damage can also be covered on their own rather than being left with those expenses.
While all this may sound more than average, Delaware actually has some of the lowest car insurance rates in the country. It’s been reported that minimum car insurance coverage costs $355 annually. This is the cheapest with USAA; the next on that list would be State Farm, with an annual rate of $791. Of course, car insurance rates also depend on the driver and their vehicle, so averages are a little difficult to establish.
Normally, car insurance companies always promote buying more coverage than the minimum requirement if you can afford it. This isn’t a marketing gimmick but rather a cautious recommendation since car accidents can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with just tens of thousands of dollars as coverage, which leaves you a bit short-changed. Driving underinsured or without car insurance at all isn’t worth it, as that can result in fines and license suspension. Even in Delaware’s case, it is better to be safe than sorry with auto coverage.
Full car insurance in Delaware, complete with comprehensive and collision coverage, is around $1,775 annually. That’s around the national average. You may argue that safe driving and residence in rural Delaware is a reason to go with the minimum car insurance. Even so, you don’t want to risk someday getting into an accident with a luxury car owner with parts whose repair costs exceed your coverage limits. It’s not a question of how expensive car accidents will be but rather when they will occur.
Samuel Rakestraw is an insurance analyst at Insurance Navy.