It has been nearly a year since Massachusetts called the COVID-19 state of emergency. Your daily routine has completely changed and you are not driving very often. Do you still need to buy auto insurance at this point?
Yes. Under state law, you are required to purchase a Massachusetts auto insurance policy if you have a driver’s license and register a vehicle. If you cause a car accident in Massachusetts, you are responsible for compensating anyone you have injured for their medical expenses and other financial losses. You also have to pay for property damage.
Auto insurers granted Massachusetts drivers some discounts last year, but lawmakers and consumer advocates are starting to raise the question of further discounts.
Calls for Action on Reducing Auto Insurance Premiums in Massachusetts
On Feb. 12th, the Lawrence-Eagle Tribune reported state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and other legislators have asked the state Division of Insurance to review insurance rates, premiums and losses. They also want insurers to offer refunds from profits.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office also recently asked regulators to reduce personal automobile insurance premiums by at least 25 percent, according to the newspaper. Her office cited data showing the frequency of liability coverage claims fell more than 50 percent between 2019 and 2020. There was a 70 percent drop in the frequency of collision coverage claims.
Our Massachusetts Auto Insurance Tips During COVID-19
Purchase the Minimum Auto Insurance
Under Massachusetts law, you have to purchase the required minimum coverage limits. There has been no change to the coverage limits during COVID-19.
- Bodily Injury to Others, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP), $8,000 per person, per accident
- Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
- Damage to Someone Else’s Property, $5,000 per accident
These are low coverage limits. In most cases, drivers should purchase more to adequately protect themselves and others if they cause a car accident. The key with auto insurance is you must purchase the right amounts and coverage types to protect yourself. Learn more about the different coverages in our article, “Understanding and Buying Massachusetts Car Accident Insurance.”
How Auto Insurance Protects You
Right now, you may be asking why you need to buy an auto insurance policy at all. This is a good time to remind you of all the ways your policy can work for you. Most drivers can appreciate that they are required to purchase auto insurance under Massachusetts law. At the very least, under M.G.L. c. 90, § 34J, you may face a fine between $500 to $5,000 if you are caught operating without insurance. Most drivers can also appreciate that auto insurance can protect them financially if they make a mistake and cause someone injury in a car crash.
But there are other protections. First, you may need your auto insurance to protect yourself. Even if another driver was at fault in a car crash, you may have to file a claim with your own policy for your medical expenses and lost wages. This would be true if you were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This would also be the case if you were injured in a hit-and-run accident and could not identify the driver.
If you are a cyclist, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against another driver for your injuries in a bicycle accident. However, having your own auto insurance policy can provide necessary resources to help you recover, especially if the driver does not have auto insurance.
Another benefit is auto insurance can protect our loved ones or those living in our household. Call your insurance agent and ask to add these licensed drivers to your policy. They may be able to draw on the coverage should they ever be injured in a car crash or a bicycle accident and not have coverage elsewhere.
Keep Massachusetts Auto Insurance Payments Current
It is fine to evaluate your auto insurance. But do not withhold or miss an auto insurance premium payment or you could risk your insurer cancelling your policy. If you are facing financial hardship, one option is you can set up a payment plan over the year. In doing so, you may be losing a pre-payment discount, but it may be the best approach for your situation right now.
Before you call your insurer or insurance agent, learn as much as you can. Read the state advisory on Motor Vehicle Insurance Installment Payment Plans.
Seek Quotes from Massachusetts Insurance Agents
In Massachusetts, you can purchase insurance directly through an insurer or an insurance agent. Call and ask if you qualify for any discounts based on your current driving routine, vehicle, employer or group memberships. At a minimum, insurers should offer a discount for traveling more than 5,000 miles in a year.
It is usually worth requesting quotes from more than one insurance agent or companies. In Massachusetts, some insurance agents can offer quotes from multiple companies. Expect most to represent just a single company. Here is the state of Massachusetts insurance agent database.
Check for Discounts and Savings
The best types of discounts and savings are those you achieve just by checking in with your auto insurance agent. For instance, you may be eligible for a discount because you logged fewer than 5,000 miles on your car in 2020.
In some cases, this conversation may not result in savings. You may need to add someone to your household policy or purchase business coverage because you started using your vehicle for work. Whatever your situation, you have a responsibility to keep your auto insurer updated so you have proper coverage should you need it. Many people put their auto insurance coverage at risk without even realizing it when they move and start garaging their vehicle in a new location. Your auto insurance is calculated in part based on where you garage your vehicle. College students who take their vehicles to campus also need to update auto insurers.
Where to Learn More About Massachusetts Auto Insurance
We mentioned a few of our auto insurance articles in this blog. We also invite you to read our other auto insurance articles, including “What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance” and “Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself and Your Finances.”
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorney
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our commitment to pursuing the best financial result for clients. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligent driving, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. We represent clients throughout Massachusetts, including in Boston, Quincy, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Brookline and Arlington.
For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Attorney Ron Gluck recently authored an article, “Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Protect Yourself and Your Family,” which was published in the Charles River Wheelers newsletter, WheelPeople. He writes that readers may be surprised to learn this coverage can protect every member of their household when driving, riding as a passenger or even outside a vehicle, when cycling, walking or going for a jog. But there are a few essentials to understand before you buy.
Learn more about Attorney Ron Gluck.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When someone buys a car, they learn a tough lesson: auto insurance can be costly and confusing for Massachusetts drivers. There are unfamiliar terms, contract language and many of us do not understand the coverages we need to buy – and how much of these coverages. But drivers are required to purchase an auto insurance policy in Massachusetts.
In this article, our Boston car accident lawyers share tips for getting started with your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.
What is a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
- What is a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
- Do I Need to Buy a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
- Do I Need to Purchase Other Types of Massachusetts Auto Insurance Coverage?
- What Happens if I Do Not Purchase Auto Insurance in Massachusetts?
- What if An Auto Insurance Company Refuses to Sell Me An Auto Insurance Policy?
- How Can I Lower My Auto Insurance Premium in Massachusetts?
- Are My Family Members Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?
- How Do I Keep My Auto Insurance Policy in Good Standing in Massachusetts?
- What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Accident in Massachusetts? Do I Need to Contact My Auto Insurance Company?
What is a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
Your Massachusetts auto insurance policy is a contract between you and your auto insurance company. You agree to pay a premium and follow the terms of the policy. Your insurance company will pay for certain costs associated with a car accident and other damage.
Do I Need to Buy a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
- You may purchase your policy directly from the company or through an auto insurance agent.
- Shop around; Different insurers now offer different discounts and pricing since Massachusetts deregulated the industry in 2008 and moved to “managed competition.”
- After you purchase auto insurance, you should carry your policy number with you and keep it in your car along with your state motor vehicle registration.
- Make sure you file away the Coverage Selections Page you receive. This shows your policy number and the coverages you have purchased.
Do I Need to Buy a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?
Yes, you need to purchase a Massachusetts auto insurance policy. Under Massachusetts law, you must purchase the “compulsory” mandatory coverages, including:
Bodily Injury to Others
$20,000 per person;
$40,000 per accident
Do I Need to Purchase Other Types of Massachusetts Auto Insurance Coverage?
Personal Injury Protection
$8,000 per person, per accident
Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto
$20,000 per person;
$40,000 per accident
Damage to Someone Else’s Property
$5,000 per accident
Do I Need to Purchase Other Types of Massachusetts Auto Insurance Coverage?
Drivers can buy additional optional types of coverage. These are recommended but not required by law. Optional coverages include:
- Bodily Injury
- Medical Payments
- Property Damage
- Collision Comprehensive
We write about these coverage types on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s website. You can also click on our infographic below.
Our attorneys recommend you purchase as much auto insurance as you can afford and may need to cover your expenses if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident. This may include your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
As many drivers learn, the mandatory coverages are not enough to adequately cover the high costs after a crash – for financial losses associated with an injury and/or damage to a motor vehicle. Each year, we represent drivers who have been hit and injured by uninsured drivers.
If this happens to you, you too will have to look to your own auto insurance policy.
What Happens if I Do Not Purchase Auto Insurance in Massachusetts?
This is a serious offense. Under M.G.L. c. 90, § 34J, drivers may face potential penalties and fines if they are convicted or plead guilty to operating an uninsured motor vehicle. This charge may be brought against drivers caught operating their own vehicle without insurance as well as those who allow others to drive their vehicles without coverage.
Drivers can face fines of $500 to $5,000 and up to one year of imprisonment in a house of correction. The Registry of Motor Vehicles can also suspend a driver’s license for up to 60 days for a first offense and up to a year for second and subsequent offenses.
What if An Auto Insurance Company Refuses to Sell Me An Auto Insurance Policy?
Auto insurers can refuse to sell you auto insurance based on non-discriminary grounds and they can set their rates based on your driving history, where you live and other factors. They cannot, however, refuse based on your gender, race, national origin, marital status, religion, occupation or age. It is also against the law for an auto insurer to refuse to sell you a policy based on your income or information from a credit reporting agency.
Before you purchase auto insurance, read the Massachusetts Consumer Bill of Rights for Auto Insurance. This will help you respond if you are denied or want to question the auto insurer about their rates.
If an auto insurers turns you away, you can still purchase coverage through another company or the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP). You automatically become eligible for this coverage if an insurer refuses to sell you a policy.
How Can I Lower My Auto Insurance Premium in Massachusetts?
Do your research online and learn your options for auto insurance discounts. You may qualify for discounts based on your driving record or organizations you belong to (such as AAA) or if you are 65 or old. Your teen may be eligible for discounts for getting good grades.
Ask about discounts when you meet an insurance agent. Discounts may vary between agents and you do not want to start working with an agent unless they offer the discounts you want.
Are My Family Members Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?
Make sure you understand who is covered to drive your motor vehicle. Your auto insurance policy must list all licensed drivers in your household, even drivers who have their own auto insurance policies. You can exclude a member of your family by submitting an exclusion form.
You may be asked to list other drivers who use your vehicle. Work closely with your auto insurance agent on this point so you will have coverage if you need it.
How Do I Keep My Auto Insurance Policy in Good Standing in Massachusetts?
Read your policy before you sign it and ask your insurance agent questions. Ask as many questions as you need so you are aware of what you must do to stay in good standing.
If you move, update your address with your insurer promptly. Garaging a vehicle in another location may void your auto insurance. To avoid this, let your insurance agent know if you move to another home or apartment or when your teen heads to college and takes a car. This notification should be done promptly, within a few days.
Beyond this, follow state laws. Always operate with reasonable care. Do not speed or use your cell phone while driving. Pay your Massachusetts vehicle excise taxes on time. Keep your license and motor vehicle registration in your car, accessible if you are stopped by a police officer. Respond to traffic tickets and parking tickets promptly.
What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Accident in Massachusetts? Do I Need to Contact My Auto Insurance Company?
Review your auto insurance policy with your agent so you understand before an accident happens. You are required to notify your auto insurance company if you have been in a car accident resulting in property damage, injury or death. Massachusetts is a no-fault state and your auto insurer is responsible for paying your initial medical bills and lost wages under your PIP benefits coverage. But you have to alert your insurer that you have been injured to start this process.
If you have suffered serious injuries, it is important to consult an experienced Boston car crash lawyer to help you learn your legal rights. Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
Under the law, Massachusetts drivers must purchase auto insurance before they get behind the wheel. But this is not always cheap. A new study reports auto insurance has become too expensive for 19 million Americans, making it important to shop around so you can find the most coverage for your budget.
The report, “Study on the Affordability of Personal Automobile Insurance,” was released in January by the Federal Insurance Office of the United States Treasury. The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) was created by Congress with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The office is charged with monitoring consumers’ access to affordable insurance products.
The report found basic liability automobile coverage is unaffordable in 845 zip codes where 19 million people live. Households in those areas had average auto insurance costs which exceeded more than 2 percent of average household income.
Massachusetts is the 10th most expensive state for car insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Drivers pay on average $1,007 per year. New Jersey drivers pay the most nationally, with an average expenditure of $1,254.
The cheapest place to drive is Idaho. On average, drivers there pay just $553 for insurance.
Take time to understand your insurance policy. Before you buy car insurance in Massachusetts, remember these points:
Check out our chart. We have developed this chart and article, “Understanding and Buying Auto Insurance in Massachusetts.”
How much insurance do you need? Drivers must purchase Compulsory Coverage, which includes Bodily Injury to Others, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Bodily Injury from an Uninsured Driver and Damage to Another Person’s Property. But you should also purchase Optional Coverage. Read more about the different types in our article, “Understanding and Buying Auto Insurance in Massachusetts.”
Underinsured and uninsured coverage. While these fall under Optional Coverage, they are essential. Far too often, drivers do not carry enough insurance of their own or outright ignore the law and do not buy insurance. In these cases, you will need to look to your own Underinsured and Uninsured coverage.
Discounts. You may be eligible for a discount if you purchase your auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies through the same carrier. Auto clubs may also offer discounts.
Cycling accidents. If you are a cyclist, you can purchase coverage to protect yourself in a bicycle accident through your auto insurance policy. It may cost more, but it is worth the investment. Many drivers do not carry enough insurance and you may have to turn to your own policy for compensation.
Shop around. This is your right. Massachusetts deregulated the auto insurance market in April 2008, giving drivers the freedom to research the market and find the best policy for their needs. Pay attention to deductibles; often that is where consumers can negotiate lower rates, but you will usually end up paying a higher deductible if you are found at fault for a car accident.
Factors which may increase your cost. Your age, the type of car you drive and the town where you live can all impact the cost of your auto insurance policy. Before you buy your next car, check in with your agent first.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured in car accidents. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.