New Rhode Island Law Prohibits Higher Auto Insurance Rates for Widowed Policyholders

Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson and Rep. Arthur Handy to prohibit auto insurers from charging higher rates solely because a policyholder is widowed has been signed into law. The new legislation (2024-H 7606, 2024-S 2269) was approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly on May 21 and signed by Governor Daniel McKee on May 31. It will take effect for policies issued after January 1, 2025.

The new law ensures that auto insurers cannot treat widows or widowers differently from married individuals in terms of classification or rates. Representative Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), who experienced the issue firsthand after the passing of his wife, Tish DiPrete, in 2021, emphasized the unfairness of the practice.

“Marital status is one of many factors insurance companies weigh when they decide what their risk is to insure a driver. But a person doesn’t become a bigger risk as a result of losing their spouse. Besides being baseless, it’s just callous to add higher insurance rates to the heavy burdens of those who are grieving their spouses,” Handy stated.

The issue came to Senator Lawson’s attention through a constituent who faced a significant increase in her car insurance premiums following the death of her husband. After informing her insurance company of her husband’s death, she was notified that her car insurance would increase by $450 per year.

“Everyone who has experienced loss knows how devastating it is to deal with the practical matters and expenses and the uncertainty of a major life change on top of the heavy emotional toll of the grieving process. Adding an additional expense to the lives of those mourning a loved one is unnecessary and unfair,” said Senator Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).

The local insurance industry supported the bill, recognizing that it promotes fairer outcomes for policyholders. They noted that widowed persons, unlike other rating factors, present little to no additional risk as drivers.




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