Delaware Car Insurance Requirements

Get the details on minimum car insurance coverage requirements in Delaware, plus other basics on auto insurance in Delaware.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

Like most states, Delaware requires that every registered motor vehicle be covered by a car insurance policy that meets certain minimum requirements, in case the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident. In this article, we'll discuss:

  • Delaware law as it relates to financial responsibility for a car accident
  • how Delaware's car insurance laws work in the context of an insurance claim or lawsuit after the crash, and
  • the minimum requirements for liability and personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage under Delaware law.

Delaware Is a "Fault" Car Accident State

Delaware follows a "fault" system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses stemming from a car accident. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is responsible for compensating anyone who suffered harm as a result of the crash (although from a practical standpoint it's typically the at-fault driver's insurance carrier that will cover these losses, up to policy limits).

After a car accident in Delaware, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways when trying to get compensation for their losses ("damages"), including medical bills, lost income, property damage, and "pain and suffering":

  • by filing a claim with his or her own insurance company, assuming that the loss is covered under the policy (in this situation, the insurance company will likely turn around and pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company)
  • by filing a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier, or
  • by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.

Note: Even though Delaware is not one of the dozen or so mandatory no-fault car insurance states—where drivers must turn first to their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for injury claims and other out-of-pocket losses after an accident—PIP coverage is still required in the state. More on this below.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Delaware

As touched on above, Delaware requires vehicle owners to have the following minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury liability per person injured in an accident you cause
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury liability when two or more people are injured in an accident you cause, and
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident you cause.

This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or killed or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident caused by you or another covered driver, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.

Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.

Finally, remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a car accident.

Delaware also requires vehicle owners to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage at the following minimums:

  • $15,000 for any one person injured in an accident and covered under the policy, and
  • $30,000 for all persons injured in an accident and covered under the policy.

This coverage pays medical bills, lost income, and certain other financial losses (including $5,000 in funeral expenses if a car accident results in death) for any covered driver or passenger, regardless of who was at fault for the car accident.

If you're looking for more details on car insurance requirements in Delaware, the state's Department of Insurance publishes an insurance guide for Delaware drivers.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

If you drive a vehicle without car insurance in Delaware, you could face a fine of between $1,500 and $2,000 for a first offense, and a $3,000 to $4,000 fine for any subsequent offenses. A six-month suspension of your driving privileges is also possible. Note that these fines and penalties will likely pale in comparison to the financial hit you could take if you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.

If you're involved in a car accident in Delaware, especially if your injuries are significant or there's a lot of back-and-forth as to who was at fault for the crash, it may be time to discuss your situation (and your options) with a car accident lawyer.

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