Auto Insurance in Massachusetts

Overview

Massachusetts, the Bay State, introduced legislation in 2008 that has proven to save Bay Staters when shopping for auto insurance.

The Bay State is a no-fault insurance state. This means that drivers are covered by their insurance company through a Personal Insurance Protection policy (PIP). And since often times the minimum personal protection amounts are not high enough to cover what can be enormous costs in the event of an accident, Bay Staters can rest assured knowing that if they shop carefully, they can find the coverage they need at affordable prices.

Managed competition

In April 2008, Massachusetts under the Patrick-Murray Administration, reformed auto insurance, creating what is known as managed competition. These changes have led to lower rates for the consumer by allowing insurance companies to compete for a driver’s business.

It has also led to more discounts and improved benefits for many Bay State drivers.

Since the auto insurance reform, drivers in Massachusetts have saved nearly a half-billion dollars, with many drivers maximizing savings by shopping around for a better premium. In a survey conducted by the state’s Division of Insurance, over half of the people who responded said they beefed up their coverage with the dollars they saved through managed competition; In effect, reinvesting their savings in more robust policies.

Consumers interested in checking on rates can start their search at www.mass.gov/autorates.

Minimum Limits

The state’s requirements on automobile policies are some of the most extensive throughout the nation. Your auto Insurance policy must meet the following minimum limits:

  • $20,000 – bodily injury, one person
  • $40,000 – bodily injury, one accident
  • $8,000 – Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident – for uninsured motorist coverage
  • $5,000 – property damage

Proof of insurance

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, you must present your insurance identification card to prove that the vehicle is insured. If you do not provide proof of insurance you could face a traffic citation.

Letting your insurance lapse or failing to provide proof if stopped and receiving a citation could mean an increase in your insurance premium. Factors involved in premium increases are:

  • Your driving record
  • Your traffic violations
  • The number and severity of at-fault accidents you were involved in

Who is liable

As a no-fault state, if you are in an accident in Massachusetts and receive bodily injuries, your injuries will be paid for regardless of who is found to be at fault, up to the specified limits of the policy.

If you have no other health insurance and the health insurance PIP pays the first $2,000 of your medical bills, but the expenses must have occurred within two days of the date of the accident. PIP covers up to a total of $8,000.

Who is insured

In order to be covered by your Massachusetts auto insurance policy, all drivers in the household must be listed on that policy.

Driving under the influence

In Massachusetts, operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) is a serious criminal offense.  If you are stopped and have a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, you will be arrested for OUI.

The first time you are arrested and charged with OUI, your fines will be anywhere from $500 up to $5,000. Your licensed may be suspended for a year and you may face jail time in the range of no time to two and a half years. You may given an option of completing an alcohol education course, and if completed, could lead to a reduction in your sentence. However, with a second charge of OUI, completing such a program is not an option as a means of getting your sentence reduced.

If you are arrested and charged with a second OUI, the state clamps down. You can be fined up to $10,000 and be imprisoned for up to two and a half years, with a minimum jail sentence of 30 days for a second offense of drinking and driving.

Driving and drinking under the legal age

In Massachusetts, if you are drinking and are under the age of 21, which is the legal drinking age, you will be charged with an administrative penalty if you test .02 or higher. You may also incur other charges.

Average Annual Cost of Insurance

According to Insure.com, the 2011 average annual premium for Massachusetts auto insurance is $1,328. The national average is $1,561.

 

Resources

Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org

Massachusetts Department of Insurance
1 South Station
Boston, MA 02110 United States
Tel 617-521-7794; 888-283-3757 (In State toll-free)
Web www.state.ma.us/doi

The Official Website of the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation (OCABR)

Auto Insurance Premium Comparisons
Web www.mass.gov/autorates