Keeping Your Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy in Good Standing During COVID-19 Emergency

Traffic jam in Massachusetts
Traffic jam in Massachusetts

Save yourself time and frustration. Our tips for keeping your Massachusetts auto insurance policy in good standing during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Be proactive and keep your auto insurance policy in good standing during the COVID-19 emergency. When you move or cannot make payment, let your auto insurer know in advance. This will save you a great deal of time, frustration and money during an already stressful time.

First, some news on a small savings. Due to a decrease in driving, many insurers have committed to giving Massachusetts drivers a 15 percent discount for April and May (roughly $30 in savings on a $1,200 policy), according to The Boston Globe. Not a large savings, but you don’t have to be proactive here. Just look for the credit to appear on your premium statements or a rebate check to arrive in the mail.

How Auto Insurance Works For You

Auto insurance is a critical tool in protecting yourself and your family from injury and major financial loss in a car accident or truck crash. If you were negligent in a car crash, you need to have coverage to financially compensate any victims for their medical expenses and other losses. This protects your other financial assets.

When another driver is at fault and causes your injuries, you should be entitled to seek compensation from their auto insurance policy. What’s unfair is this coverage may not be available if the driver is uninsured or is underinsured and has only purchased the state’s minimum requirement for compulsory coverage.

Many drivers should also purchase optional coverages to protect themselves. Read more in our article, “Understanding and Buying Massachusetts Car Insurance.”

Keep Current with Auto Insurance Billing

If you are unable to pay your auto insurance premium, notify your insurance agent or insurer in advance of your payment date. Auto insurers have the right to cancel your policy for non-payment and they can do so in short time. This can lead to extra fees and take up a lot of your time. The worst scenario is if you are stopped by a police officer when your auto insurance has lapsed. You could be fined and your license could be suspended, adding another layer of time and frustration.

Avoid this stress. Call your insurer and request a payment extension. The Massachusetts Department of Insurance has advised insurers “to work with consumers to be flexible and make every possible effort to avoid policy cancellation.” Read this advisory.

And if you don’t have electronic access to your auto insurance policy, ask about setting it up now so you can monitor your account.

Update Your Address

The Massachusetts Department of Insurance calls this “the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from a claim denial.”  Your insurer sets your premium in part based on your address and the risk of collision there. If you don’t update your address, your insurer may still pay claims for your compulsory coverage. Very likely they will deny claims for your optional coverages.

If you have moved or returned home from college, notify your insurer that you have changed your address and are garaging your vehicle in a different location. Your insurance company may (or may not) provide you with some leeway up to 30 days. Regardless, update your policy immediately. You also have an obligation to update your motor vehicle registration and license and you can do this online.

Don’t own a car? Remind your family members to add you back to their policy.

Reconsider Your Coverages

As Massachusetts looks to reopen, some workers will telecommute. Still, we urge you not to reduce your auto insurance coverages to save money. Not yet. But start a conversation with your auto insurance agent about your current coverages and if they meet your needs.

Start by asking about your optional coverages. Specifically, do you have enough MedPay coverage? And do you need more underinsured and uninsured coverage? A note, if you can only raise one, purchase more MedPay, which will help pay your medical bills. For a few dollars, you can increase your coverage by $10,000 or more and this makes a big difference). Then consider raising your underinsured and uninsured coverages as well. If you do, make sure you purchase the same amount of bodily injury coverage.

If you are spending more time on a bicycle, we urge you to wear a helmet first and foremost. You will also benefit by adding auto insurance coverages to help with your medical expenses and other losses. You may be able to add coverages to your own auto insurance policy or to a household policy. Read our article, “What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance.”

Going forward, if you transition to working at home more, monitor your mileage. You may be able to request a low mileage discount and save money without losing any coverage.

Also, consult your insurance agent if you begin driving as part of a new job or as an independent contractor for a restaurant or business. If you are in a car accident while making work deliveries, your private passenger auto insurance policy will not cover you.

The Massachusetts Department of Insurance advises drivers and businesses to ask their insurers about endorsements for delivery drivers during the Massachusetts COVID-19 state of emergency. Read the state’s advisory, “Insurance FAQs During COVID-19 Public Health Crisis.”

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Crash Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is consistently recognized as a top-rated personal injury law firm in Boston. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys have assisted thousands of car accident victims in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. We have a track record of successful results covering nearly 30 years.

For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Protecting Yourself Before and After a Car Accident in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Auto Insurance

Massachusetts Auto Insurance

Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a series of new articles to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under your Massachusetts auto insurance policy. As part of these articles, we share tips on how to buy more coverage to help yourself or your family members should you ever be injured or your vehicle damaged. Another driver may be at fault, but if they are uninsured or underinsured, you may need to look to your own auto insurance policy.

Getting Started with Massachusetts Auto Insurance

When someone buys a car, they learn a tough lesson: auto insurance can be costly for Massachusetts drivers. But under Massachusetts law, drivers are required to purchase an auto insurance policy and this is essential if you are injured in a car crash. Our Boston car accident lawyers share tips for getting started.

Infographic: What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in Massachusetts

Our infographic explains Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and our recommendations for Bodily Injury Coverage, Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Medical Payments Coverage.

How to File a Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report

While we hope you are never involved in a crash, drivers can take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report. It is your responsibility to submit this form to your auto insurer if you are involved in a car accident resulting in more than $1,000 property damage or injury.

More Auto Insurance Articles
Still have a question? Please visit our website, where we have more articles on insurance coverage for drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured in car accidents, truck crashes and other traffic incidents across Massachusetts. Our firm is based at 2 Center Plaza across from Boston City Hall and we offer a free legal consultation by telephone. Contact our firm today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

What Massachusetts Motorcyclists Should Know About Buying Auto Insurance

Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck

Attorneys Ronald E. Gluck, Marc L. Breakstone and David W. White, partners of the Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck. For more than 25 years, the firm has represented motorcyclists and others injured by reckless and negligent drivers.

Motorcyclists, before you start your engines, remember to check your Massachusetts auto insurance policy. Too many motorcyclists do not have enough coverage, which can be a costly and painful mistake if you are ever injured in a crash. For more than 25 years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has fought to obtain compensation for motorcyclists injured by negligent drivers. In recent years, our attorneys have vigorously pursued settlements of $3.75 million, $3.5 million and $1.25 million for three motorcyclists. We write about these Massachusetts motorcycle settlements on our website.

We work with auto insurance policies on a daily basis as we represent those injured on the road. We hope you are never injured, but it pays to plan and understand your auto insurance policy. After an accident, you may have to look to your own insurance policy, even if another driver caused the crash.

In Massachusetts, all drivers and motorcyclists must buy a minimum level of auto insurance. This is known as Compulsory Coverage. Motorcyclists need more and have a few special considerations. Your challenge is to identify what your potential needs would be following a crash. To start, you would need coverage for medical treatment and lost wages. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may be out of work for an extended period or worse, be left unable to return full-time. If you have a family and provide income for their support, you have more to consider.

The good news is you can plan and work with your insurance agent now to make sure your insurance coverage is adequate and that you have the right types. To help get you started, our attorneys have written these articles about Massachusetts auto insurance coverage. As a motorcyclist, make sure to read the section about Medical Payments coverage in our first article:

Insurance Articles for Massachusetts Motorcyclists
Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself
Understanding and Buying Massachusetts Car Accident Insurance

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing motorcyclists in the Boston area and across Massachusetts, from Brockton and Plymouth to Cape Cod to Framingham and Worcester. If you have been injured, take the time to learn your rights from one of our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers. Our attorneys can help you answer the key questions you may have following a motorcycle accident, such as “How much is my motorcycle accident claim worth?” and “How long will it take to obtain compensation for my injury after a motorcycle accident?” For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

For Massachusetts Motorcyclists, It’s Time for A Pre-Season Safety Check

Motorcycle riding down open roadMotorcycle season is almost here. For riders, this means goodbye snow and cold; hello to the open road.

Good pre-season preparation is essential for motorcyclists. Take some time to inspect your motorcycle and helmet and review the Massachusetts driving manual. Review your auto insurance as well; most drivers and motorcyclists do not carry enough insurance.

Wear a Helmet. Under Massachusetts law, motorcyclists must wear helmets which have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Helmets save lives so make sure yours is in good condition. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident or fall, replace your helmet.

Clothing and Gear. Select the appropriate clothing and gloves for driving conditions.

Licensing and Insurance. Class M licenses are required for Massachusetts motorcyclists. Anyone who is 16 or older may take the Class M exam, unless the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has taken away your right to operate.

Once you pass the exam, you must obtain auto insurance for your motorcycle. It pays to do your homework here. Under the law, Massachusetts motorcyclists are only required to purchase compulsory insurance. But you can and should also purchase optional coverage for more protection.

We encourage you to ask your insurance agent about insurance laws for motorcycles and about coverage for accidents involving underinsured and uninsured drivers. If you are ever injured and the driver responsible does not have adequate insurance, you may have to look to your own insurance policy to fill in the gap and pay some of your medical bills and other compensation.

Insurance companies do not provide for Personal Injury Protection (no-fault benefits) on motorcycle policies. We strongly recommend that you purchase Medical Payments coverage. That coverage will provide insurance for you and your passenger in the event of an accident.

Follow the Rules of the Road. Massachusetts motorcyclists must follow the same rules as other drivers, but there are some differences. If you have questions, you can quickly check the Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual online.

Defensive Driving. One topic covered in the manual is defensive driving. Commit to keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles on the roads to avoid a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

  • Nearly 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2015, up 8 percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2015, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured.
  • Motorcycle deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than other fatalities on the road, according to NHTSA figures.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston have over 100 years combined experience representing motorcyclists who have been seriously injured by the negligence of drivers. Our attorneys have recently negotiated settlements of $3.75 million, $3.5 million and $1.25 million for injured motorcyclists. Read more about our motorcycle accident case results.

Report: Dramatic Rise in Traffic Accidents in 2016

Driving on U.S. roads became more dangerous in 2016. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase from 2015.

  • This was the first year more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents since 2007.
  • According to The New York Times, 2015 and 2016 saw a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.
  • In addition to deaths, an estimated 4.6 million people suffered serious injuries in car accidents last year. The total costs came to $432.5 billion, for motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damages.
  • In Massachusetts, 399 traffic deaths were reported in 2016, a 13 percent increase over the prior year (these are also preliminary figures).

The National Safety Council said lower gasoline prices and an improving economy may be helping to fuel the rise in traffic deaths. Others point to seat belt laws and texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors.

If you drive, take to the roads safely. Follow the speed limit and make sure everyone in your family puts down their cell phone while driving.

Read our Article: Understanding and Buying Auto Insurance in Massachusetts
Until it happens to you, few people understand the costs associated with a car accident, and the toll on your physical health and emotional well-being. We hope you are never injured, but encourage you to read our article to protect yourself and your family.


What to Know About Potholes and Car Accidents

Pothole and car

In Massachusetts, we are making the long-awaited transition from winter to spring.
For drivers, that means trading in the challenge of navigating snow-packed roads for dodging potholes.

While potholes often start as small pavement cracks, they can expand quickly if left unrepaired.  Hitting even a small pothole can cause hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage to your car as well as serious injury if the driver loses control of the vehicle. Accidents often happen when private property owners and government entities fail to quickly repair roads or set up signage alerting drivers to roadway defects.  The law requires all persons to maintain roadways, driveways and sidewalks in a reasonably safe manner. But it also allows a reasonable amount of time to discover and repair the defect.  

Around Boston, some communities report hundreds of pot hole car accidents and incidents each year. The city of Boston is trying a new approach to hasten repairs by developing a smart phone app called Street Bump which allows drivers to send the city alerts about defective roadways which need to be fixed.

If Your Car is Damaged by a Roadway Defect

If your car is damaged or you are injured because of a roadway defect,
you can expect your auto insurance collision coverage will cover the damage,
but you will be subject to your deductible, which is often $500 or more. You may also be entitled to other compensation depending on where your accident happened.

It is important to consult an attorney promptly if you are injured in order to protect all of your rights. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Private Property.  Commercial property owners invite the public onto their property for business and have a responsibility to maintain their premises,
including parking lots and driveways, in a reasonably safe manner.  If the damage or injury is caused by the negligence of the property owner, then the owner’s liability insurance should cover the losses. The same rule applies to a private landowner; there is a duty to maintain driveways, parking areas, and walkways in a reasonably safe manner for all lawful visitors.

Roads and Highways. Under M.G.L. c. 84, Section 15, cities and towns must properly maintain their public ways. If a community fails to do so and had reasonable notice of the defect, a person injured in an accident on a local road may seek up to $5,000. The municipality must have known about the defect or should have learned of the defect in the exercise of due care and diligence. Gregorie v. Lowell, 253 Mass. 119 (1925). Perfection in road maintenance is not required. Zacherer v. Wakefield, 291 Mass. 90 (1935).

The city or town must receive written notice of the defect within 30 days. Proper written notice is an absolute requirement. In addition, there is an iron-clad $5,000 cap on damages. Unfortunately, any negligence on the part of the driver will be a complete bar to recovery; the rule of comparative negligence does not apply.

In Summary
In summary, potholes are a way of life in Massachusetts. If you have the misfortune of suffering a loss due to a pothole on a public way, there is little likelihood of obtaining relief from any public entity.

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