Division of Insurance - Consumers

Whether you already have an insurance policy, or you are looking to purchase one, chances are you may have some questions. This section is designed to be your resource to find out more information and help you make informed decisions about your insurance coverage.

Select an insurance type below to learn more about the lines of business the Rhode Island Insurance Division regulates, plus additional information that could be helpful to Rhode Island consumers.

If you have general insurance-related questions or need help resolving an issue, we can help. You can file a complaint online, or reach us by phone at (401) 462-9520.

Homeowners insurance is a financial protection policy that pays a lump sum if your house is damaged or destroyed by fire, weather, theft or other disasters.

Homeowners insurance is an important purchase for many people. There are two major reasons to buy homeowners insurance:

  • Protect your assets: Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home and your personal property, as well as your personal legal responsibility (or liability) for injuries to others or their property while they are on your property.
  • Satisfy your mortgage lender: Most mortgage lenders require you to have insurance while you have a mortgage and to list them as the mortgagee on the policy. If you let your homeowner’s insurance lapse your mortgage lender will likely force your home to be insured and you are likely responsible for this cost. Compared to a policy you would buy on your own, the premium for the policy they purchase might be more costly and the coverage is only for damage to the actual structure of your home.

Most homeowners insurance policies provide a package of coverages. The main types of coverage are described below:

  • Dwelling: Pays for damage to your house and to structures attached to your house such as an attached garage or attached barn. This includes damage to fixtures, such as plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and permanently installed air-conditioning systems.
  • Other Structures: Pays for damage to fences, sheds, freestanding garages, guest cottages and other structures that are not attached to your house.
  • Personal Property: Reimburses you for the value of your possessions, including furniture, electronics, appliances and clothing that become damaged or lost even when they aren’t on your property, such as those at an off-site storage locker or with your child away at college.
  • Loss of Use: Pays some of your additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable while it is being repaired.
  • Personal Liability: Covers your financial loss if you are sued and found legally responsible for injuries to someone else or for damage to another person’s property.
  • Medical Payments: Pays medical bills for people injured while on your property.

Keep in mind that you are only covered for a loss that is caused by a peril that your policy covers. For example, if your home becomes unlivable due to an earthquake and your homeowner’s policy does not cover damage as a result of an earthquake, your policy won’t pay for that damage. You should review your homeowner’s policy for the limits of your coverage to ensure you have adequate insurance and a better understanding for damage that is excluded.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their homeowners insurance questions:

  • If you are unable to secure property insurance coverage through the voluntary market, contact the Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association at (800) 851-8978 or http://www.rijra.com/ for further assistance.
  • Lead Liability - For questions on mitigation of properties in accordance with the Lead Hazard Mitigation Act, please contact the RI Office of Housing and Community Development at (401) 222-7901 or http://ohcd.ri.gov/

Fraud Reporting: To report suspected arson, please contact the RI State Fire Marshal's Arson Tipline at (401) 383-7723.

To speak with someone directly regarding your Homeowners Insurance concerns, contact:
Sharon Wiggins
Insurance Analyst
sharon.wiggins@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-9605

Auto insurance is one of the most used types of personal insurance. It is a requirement in Rhode Island that you purchase auto insurance to drive legally in this state. Auto insurance can be divided into two basic coverage areas: liability and property damage.

Two factors determine what you pay for auto insurance. The first factor is underwriting; the process where insurance companies assess the risk associated with an applicant. The second factor is rating. Rating assigns a price based on what the insurer believes it will cost to assume the financial responsibility for an applicant’s potential claim.

Liability
Most auto insurance policies contain two major coverage parts for liability: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury liability insurance protects you against the claims of other people who are injured in an accident for which you were at fault. Their claims for bodily injury may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Property damage liability insurance pays for any damage you cause to the property of others. This includes damages to other vehicles and other property such as walls, fences and equipment.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder directly. This coverage pays if you are injured or if your vehicle is damaged by an at-fault driver who does not have auto insurance.

Property Damage
Property damage coverage may include both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage for an insured vehicle.

Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car as the result of your auto colliding with an object such as a tree or another car. You are not required by law to purchase collision; however, collision coverage may be required by your lending institution or lessor. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from almost all other causes including fire, severe weather, vandalism, flood and theft. Comprehensive coverage may also cover broken glass such as windshield damage. You are not required by law to carry comprehensive coverage.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their auto insurance questions:

  • Uninsured Motorists: If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, contact the Financial Responsibility Unit at the Division of Motor Vehicles at (401) 462-5709.
  • If you are unable to secure automobile insurance coverage through the voluntary market, contact the Rhode Island Automobile Insurance Plan (AIPSO) at (401) 946-2600 for further assistance.
  • Fraud Reporting: To report suspected automobile insurance fraud, please contact the RI State Police at (401) 444-1000.

To speak with someone directly regarding your Automobile Insurance concerns, contact:
Jennifer Castaldi
Insurance Analyst
jennifer.castaldi@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-9561

Life insurance pays a death benefit if you die while the policy is in effect, in exchange for premiums you pay before your death. You can use the death benefit to protect against financial hardships such as loss of your income, funeral expenses, medical or nursing care expenses, debt repayments, and child care costs after your death.

There are many different types of life insurance policies, but generally, they fall into two classes of life insurance products: term and cash value policies.

Term life insurance is a policy that is purchased for a period of time (a term). The policy pays money to the named beneficiaries if the insured dies during the term. Term life insurance is intended to provide lower-cost coverage for a specific period.

Term life policies may include a provision that allows coverage to continue (renew) at the end of the term, even if your health status has changed. However, those premiums may be higher than the original policy. Ask what the premiums will be before you renew. Also, ask if you lose the right to renew at a certain age. If the policy is non-renewable, you will need to apply for coverage at the end of the term.

cash value life insurance policy is different because you can keep it for as long as you need it. These policies also have savings or investment features, which make it possible for policy owners to get money from the policy while they’re still alive. Whole life, universal life and variable life are types of cash value policies.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their life insurance questions:

NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Service - Helping connect consumers to life insurance policies they didn’t know their deceased family members had.

To speak with someone directly regarding your Life Insurance concern, contact:

Adrienne Evans
Principal Insurance Analyst
adrienne.evans@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-9613

An annuity is a contract in which an insurance company agrees to make a series of payments in return for a premium (or premiums) that you have paid. Many consumers buy annuities so that they will have a regular income after they retire. An annuity is an investment and shouldn't be used to reach a short-term financial goal.

There are several types of annuities, all of which carry varying levels of risk and guarantees. To find the annuity that will best suit your needs, it is important to know the difference between each and the benefits offered.

Annuities can be classified as either immediate or deferred, depending on the timing of when their income payout phase begins. Immediate annuities are purchased with a one-time contribution and provide income payments to the annuitant within one year of purchasing the contract. Deferred annuities are purchased with either a single contribution or flexible contributions over time and provide income payments to the annuitant that begins at some future date. Interest earnings credited on deferred annuities accumulate tax deferred until withdrawn.

Annuities can also be classified as either fixedvariable, or indexed, based on the provisions of the contract. Fixed annuity contracts guarantee a minimum credited interest. For immediate fixed annuity contracts, annuitants receive a fixed income stream based, in part, on the interest rate guarantee at the time of purchase. For fixed deferred annuity contracts, the insurer credits a fixed interest rate to contributions in the accumulation phase and pays a fixed income payment in the annuitization phase. Variable annuity contracts allow the policy owner to allocate contributions into various subaccounts of a separate account based upon the risk appetite of the annuitant. The contributions can be invested in stocks, bonds or other investments. Income payments in the annuitization phase can be fixed or fluctuate with the investment performance of the underlying subaccounts of the separate account. In contrast to fixed annuities, policyholders assume all of the investment risk with variable annuities because they are separate account products that are valued at market every day. Additionally, variable annuities are registered as securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under indexed contracts, interest credits are linked to an external index of investments, such as bonds or the S&P 500, but also contain a minimum guaranteed interest rate.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their annuity questions:

To speak with someone directly regarding your Annuity concern, contact:

Megan Mihara
Insurance Analyst
megan.mihara@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-0204

Long-term care is the kind of help you need if you are unable to care for yourself because of prolonged illness or disability. It can range from help with daily activities at home, such as bathing and dressing, to skilled nursing care in a nursing home.

Medicare and other types of health insurance generally do not cover long-term care. Long-term care insurance helps pay for a variety of supportive services that assist people with health or personal care that might result from a chronic disease, serious accident, sudden illness, or cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term care services are different from traditional medical care because its focus is not necessarily to improve the medical condition of an individual, but to maintain the individual’s quality of life.

Long-term care services may be provided by a health care professional, such as a nurse, a home health aide, or other personal care provider. Varying amounts and levels of care can take place in a variety of locations. This can range from a few hours of care per week in one’s home to around-the-clock care in a nursing facility.

Long-term care insurance policies can vary greatly: some policies only cover the care you receive in a nursing home and exclude coverage provided in an assisted living facility, or it may cover any type of long-term care facility but only at a set dollar amount per month. Some policies provide an unlimited monthly benefit, but a maximum lifetime benefit, and so on.

Because long-term care insurance policies vary greatly in the amount, scope of services they cover, and the settings in which services are delivered, it is imperative consumers understand the different benefit options available to them prior to purchasing a policy. Be sure to review the coverage provided by a prospective policy prior to purchasing.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their long-term care insurance questions:

To speak with someone directly regarding your Long Term Care Insurance concern, contact:

Megan Mihara
Insurance Analyst
megan.mihara@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-0204

Limited Health Benefit Insurance Plans are often confused with more comprehensive health benefit plans, such as major medical. It is important to know what the differences are because there are limitations as to what is covered and what is not covered. Limited benefit plans provide coverage for a particular healthcare setting, ailment, or disease.

Here are some examples and descriptions of limited health benefit plans:

  • Basic Hospital Expense Coverage: Covers a period of usually not less than 31 days of continuous in-hospital care and certain hospital outpatient services.
  • Basic Medical-Surgical Expense Coverage: Covers costs associated with a necessary surgery, including a certain number of days (usually not less than 21 days) of in-hospital care.
  • Hospital Confinement Indemnity Coverage: Covers a fixed amount (usually not less than $40) for each day that you are in a hospital. The benefits paid are not based on your actual expenses.
  • Accident Only Coverage: Covers death, dismemberment, disability or hospital and medical care caused by an accident. Specified accident coverage that covers only certain accidents may also be purchased.
  • Specified Disease Coverage: Covers diagnosis and treatment of a specifically named disease or diseases, such as cancer.
  • Disability Income: This coverage provides for weekly or monthly benefit payments while you are disabled after a covered injury or sickness.

We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with their limited health benefit insurance questions:

To speak with someone directly regarding your Life Insurance concerns, contact:

Adrienne Evans
Principal Insurance Analyst
adrienne.evans@dbr.ri.gov
(401)-462-9613

There are many types of insurance beyond the major insurance types, such as auto, homeowners, and life. Below are some examples and descriptions of the most common types of insurance available for consumers:

  • Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is a type of insurance for risk associated with traveling such as loss of luggage, trip cancellation and delays. Travel insurance gives consumers peace of mind when booking a trip that they will be reimbursed for part of or all their expenses should an undesirable event occur which prompts cancellation or interruption of the trip, but it can vary greatly in what they cover. Be sure to read the fine print to make you sure you understand what is covered and and what is not covered.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: Workers’ compensation insurance protects a business owner from claims by employees who experience a work-related injury or illness – either sustained on business premises or due to business operations. In all states, most companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
  • Surplus Lines Insurance: When every road to buy coverage fails, surplus lines insurance (sometimes called excess lines insurance) may be the answer. Sometimes the unconventional, huge, or substandard nature of what needs to be insured makes it impossible to get insurance through regular lines of insurance because the insurance companies are unable or unwilling to accept the risk. For those instances, a licensed insurance agent that has been authorized to sell surplus lines insurance can help provide coverage. While the insurance agent is licensed by the Rhode Island Insurance Division, the rates and policy language are not reviewed by the Rhode Island Insurance Division and not all of Rhode Island’s insurance laws apply to surplus lines insurance. Authorized insurance companies that sell surplus lines insurance have the flexibility to create policies that insure the otherwise uninsurable.
  • Pet Insurance: Just like health insurance for you or a family member, there are several types of pet insurance policies:
    • A pet health insurance policy reimburses the pet owner for specified veterinary care. As with your health insurance policy, these policies typically itemize covered treatments, deductibles (the amount you're responsible to pay) and lifetime or per illness maximums. The cost of the policy may vary based on the amount and type of coverage as well as the breed or species.
    • A pet life insurance policy covers end-of-life costs for your animal. This can include burial or cremation expenses and even bereavement counseling for you and your family.
    • Pet injury coverage may be part of your auto insurance policy. It covers the treatment of a pet injured in a car accident up to a set limit. Check with your insurance agent or company to determine if your auto policy includes coverage for a pet traveling in your car.
    • Renters Insurance: If you live in a rented apartment, house or condominium, your landlord's insurance doesn't cover your personal property in the event that it is stolen or damaged as a result of a fire, theft or other unexpected circumstances. Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss, and also protects you in case someone is injured while on your property.
    • Medical Professional Liability Insurance (also called medical malpractice insurance): This type of insurance protects physicians and other licensed health care professionals from liability associated with wrongful practices resulting in bodily injury, medical expenses and property damage, as well as the cost of defending lawsuits related to such claims.

    We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with questions about these (and other) lines of insurance:

    • Workers' Compensation:
    • Medical Malpractice:
      • If you are unable to secure medical malpractice insurance coverage through the voluntary market, contact the Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association of Rhode Island at (401) 369-8240 for assistance.

    To speak with someone directly regarding your Insurance concerns, contact:

    ​​​​​​​Holly Campbell
    Principal ​​​​​​​Insurance Analyst
    holly.campbell@dbr.ri.gov
    (401)-462-1040

    Natural disasters like high winds, hail, and flooding from storms and runoff can bring devastating losses each year. While hurricane season begins in June, extreme weather-related losses can occur throughout the year. It's important to be sure you and your family have a plan to stay safe and that you understand how your insurance policies work to help you recover if disaster strikes.

    Preparing for Extreme Weather: Don't Wait Until It's Too Late
    Unpredictable weather patterns are becoming more frequent as some regions see different types of catastrophic events or more intense weather activity. Leading to several consecutive record-breaking years in the number of severe weather events.

    Navigating the Claims Process: Recover and Rebuild
    After a loss, you want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Navigating the insurance claims process is critical to getting the money you're owed.

    Disaster Preparedness
    From flooding to hurricanes, disasters strike everywhere in the U.S. That's why Spring is a good time to make sure your insurance needs are in order, especially your homeowners or renter's policies.

    My Insurance Doesn't Cover What?
    An insurance policy for your home or apartment is supposed to provide a sense of security. But before you get too comfortable, take time to speak to your agent or insurer to understand what's covered and what's not in your homeowners or renters policy.

    Flooding - Know Your Coverage, Understand Your Risk
    The best time to review your flood insurance options is before a flood occurs. Without understanding your risk and insurance options, you might find yourself inadequately covered when you need coverage the most.

    We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with questions about disaster planning:

    Technological advancements make life easier. But, they can come at a cost. Every day it seems like another data breach story hits the news. As individuals and families use more technology, there is a lot at stake when it comes to protecting themselves online.

    Avoid putting your family at risk with these tips:

    • Keeps tabs on your information: Monitor your children’s information as well as your own. Partly because of their unused credit and Social Security numbers, children are targeted for identity theft 35 times more often than adults.
    • Understand policy terms: Banks and credit card companies typically offer fraud protection, so learn the policy terms. Victims of identity theft may be eligible for free security freeze services as provided by each state’s security freeze law. If you keep money in investment accounts, ask your advisors about protection in the event of a security breach.
    • Set social limits: Weigh and consider sharing personal information on social media as it could increase vulnerability. The more hackers know about you, the easier it is for them to build data profiles with your information.
    • Weigh costs against risks: Some homeowners policies now offer identity theft protection, including access to credit monitoring and repair services in the event of a breach. This coverage may not refund what was lost, but instead cover the costs associated with restoring your personal identity.
    • Reconsider fancy features: Innovations in automobiles can mean new risks to personal data and safety. Before buying that fancy new car, make sure you understand the technology features and how accidents caused by technological malfunctions are covered.

    We have put together a list of additional publications and resources to further assist Rhode Island consumers with questions about cybersecurity

    There are a number of other resources available to assist you with additional questions you may have about insurance: