What you need to know about Massachusetts car insurance laws, and how to get the best rates possible.
Home of the American Revolution and the Boston Red Sox, Massachusetts is known for its rich history and passionate sports fans. It’s also home to some pretty hefty car insurance laws that can surprise visitors and residents alike.
In spite of requiring more comprehensive policies than most states, Massachusetts is still a relatively affordable place to get car insurance — especially if you can shop around and compare your options, and use our tips and tricks to find the coverage you need at a great value.
Average car insurance costs in Massachusetts
You might expect a state with such rigorous car insurance requirements to cost you more than anywhere else. But actually most drivers here pay something in the ballpark of the national average: $1,200-1,300 annually. Part of the reason for this is the extremely low rate of uninsured drivers — when everyone pays their share, costs tend to go down.
What factors into car insurance rates?
You may still end up paying significantly more or less than your state’s average, since individual car insurance rates are affected by a whole host of outside factors. Some of those factors include:
- Age. If you’re younger than 25 or older than 70, you can expect to pay more for your coverage than the ages in between. This is because out of all age demographics, accident risk is highest among drivers between 16 and 19, and slowly lowers through the mid-30s.
- Type of car. Owning a fast sports car is something a lot of people daydream about, and maybe you’ve got your eye on a Porsche when you retire someday. But it’s good to note that when cars are designed to go fast, they tend to be driven fast; this puts them at an elevated level of accident risk, and insurers will always charge accordingly. A Toyota Corolla might not have the same curb appeal, but it’s far cheaper to insure, maintain and fill up with fuel than an imported roadster.
- Driving record. If you’ve only been driving for a few years, or if you have any serious black marks in your driving history, most insurers will charge you more for coverage. The longer you go without any accidents or traffic violations, the more likely you are to earn a good driver discount or something similar.
- Location. Rural drivers typically pay less for car insurance than people who live and commute in high traffic or urban areas. This is because in the country, risks or theft, vandalism and multi-vehicle accidents are far lower, meaning rural drivers are less likely overall to file claims.
- Gender. With the exception of three states — Hawaii, Massachusetts and North Carolina — women could pay 5-15% less for car insurance. This is because men are statistically more likely to get into accidents, far more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol and less likely to wear their seat belt. However, this insurance cost differential tends to even out as drivers approach the age of 50.
- Marital status. Married people are seen as more stable, both financially and otherwise, and statistics show that married people are less likely to get into accidents or file insurance claims than single people.
- Occupation. There are often special discounts or considerations made for people who work in certain fields. For example, teachers, professors and school administrators often pay less for their coverage, as do medical professionals and healthcare workers. Membership with certain professional organizations or work unions could also net you a discount.
On the other side of the coin, if you drive your own vehicle throughout the day for work — say, outside sales representatives or site inspectors — the extra mileage and road time could increase your insurance rates.
- Other drivers. Whenever you add another driver to your car insurance policy, all their factors start to play into your costs. This means even the safest middle-aged driver out there could pay higher than the average when their teenage son or daughter starts collecting speeding tickets with the family car.
- Typical driving habits. Do you have a lengthy commute every day of the week? Do you put on more miles per week than the average driver? These kinds of things can help or hurt your chance of getting a great rate. If you never drive more than 50 or 100 miles in a week, tell your insurer and see if this can get you a lower rate.
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Can my credit score affect my insurance rates in Massachusetts?
No, your credit score doesn’t matter when it comes to car insurance here. Massachusetts is one of three states in the country — the other two are Hawaii and California — where insurance providers can’t use your credit score to calculate your rates. Elsewhere, a poor credit score will hurt your chances of getting a great insurance rate; this is because multiple independent studies have linked credit score to accident risk.
Insurance requirements in Massachusetts
Every driver in the state of Massachusetts is required to carry minimum insurance coverage with the following limits:
- $20,000 bodily injury liability per person.
- $40,000 bodily injury liability total per accident.
- $5,000 property damage liability total per accident.
- $20,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
- $40,000 uninsured motorist coverage total per accident.
- $8,000 personal injury protection.
While Massachusetts drivers are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is optional. You may be tempted to look solely at price when deciding on a policy. But by carefully considering coverage limits, you’ll typically get solid coverage — and end up paying less when in the event of a claim.
Additional coverage in Massachusetts
Massachusetts drivers can choose to add higher levels of protection in the event of an accident.
- Comprehensive. Pays for repairs if your car is damaged by something other than an accident — for instance, a fire or vandalism.
- Collision and limited collision. Helps with repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
- Gap coverage. If an accident totals a car that you’re financing or leasing, this coverage pays the difference between what your insurer will cover and the remainder of your existing loan or lease.
- Rental reimbursement. Helps pay for a rental car if you need one after an accident.
- Emergency roadside assistance. Provides reimbursement for towing and labor required for your car after an accident.
- Optional bodily injury (OBI). Helps cover bodily injuries that aren’t covered under required minimums — for example, injuries to passengers, accidents that happen outside the state or even accidents in areas where the public has no right of access.
What if I don’t have insurance?
If you’re stopped by police or are involved in an accident in Massachusetts and you don’t have car insurance, you’ll face severe penalties. Driving without car insurance in Massachusetts is considered a civil motor vehicle infraction, which means you could be slapped with a $5,000 fine, up to one year in jail or loss of driving privileges for a full year on the severe end of the scale. Of course, whether or not it’s your first time being caught or if you have a significant criminal background could play into your sentencing.
In addition, uninsured drivers are required to pay an additional fee of at least $500 to the state’s assigned risk plan.
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Uninsured drivers in Massachusetts
It’s estimated that between 4% and 6% of all motorists in Massachusetts don’t have adequate car insurance to meet the legal standards. That’s less than half the national average of 12% in any given state, and according to most industry estimates, only New York and Maine have recently reported lower percentages of uninsured drivers than Massachusetts.
In spite of this relatively low number of people driving uninsured, the state requires all drivers to carry uninsured motorist protection. To learn more about this kind of coverage and why you might need it, even when it’s not required, visit our guide on the topic.
Can I buy temporary insurance in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can. But you might run into issues finding temporary coverage from standard providers, so if you need this kind of coverage, you should be open to alternative options like going with a less-known provider or having some unconventional policy terms.
Drunk driving laws in Massachusetts
This state holds drivers to the same standards as any other state when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol — the BAC limit for normal motorists is 0.08%, and for commercial drivers it’s 0.04%.
Violating these laws will land you in serious legal trouble, with the consequences increasing for each time a driver repeats their offense. Other things can also cause the consequences to be more severe, such as if a passenger under 16 was in the vehicle, if anyone was injured in an accident, or if the driver’s BAC was more than double the legal limit.
|1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense||4thOffense>||5thOffense>|
|Jail||Up to 30 months||30 days to 30 months||150 days to 5 years||1-5 years||2-5 years|
|Fines and Penalties||$500-$5,000||$600-$10,000||$1,000-$15,000||$1,500-$25,000||$2,000-$50,000|
|License Suspension||1 year||2 years||8 years||10 years||Permanent|
Law of implied consent
Like many states, Massachusetts has laws that address implied consent. This means that if you’re driving on public roads in this state, you’re giving consent to a police officer to administer a drug or alcohol test if they suspect you’re driving under the influence.
By refusing, you’re likely to end up with a license suspension, some steep fines, and possibly even some jail time.
|1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense>|
|Refusal to take test||License suspended for 180 days||License suspended for 3 years||License suspended for 5 years|
Can I get SR-22 insurance in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can. You might need SR-22 insurance in Massachusetts if you’ve been convicted of a DUI or OWI, if you have too many other violation points on your record or if you’ve been caught driving without proper coverage.
What happens after an accident in Massachusetts?
When you’re involved in a car accident, the steps you take at the scene can save lives, reduce injuries and help your provider settle any claims quickly and efficiently.
- Safety first. Make sure that you and everybody involved in the accident are OK. If you need assistance, call the police immediately.
- Notify your insurance company. After you’ve confirmed that all parties are safe, call your agent to report the accident. They will walk you through the information they need for your claim.
- Document the accident. Protect your claim by taking down the name of any police officers at the scene. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles, and talk to any witnesses you might be able to contact for more information later.
- Exchange information. Get the full name, contact info and insurance policy details from other drivers. Note the drivers’ car type, color, model and license plate number, as well as the exact location of the accident.
When you talk to other drivers involved in the accident, avoid admitting or implying fault. If you suggest to anybody that you caused it, your car insurance provider could refuse to pay your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
Massachusetts is one of the 12 states that requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance. In states with no-fault coverage, insurance claims are typically paid out:
- If a party is more than 50% responsible for an accident.
- Property damage is determined by a comparative fault rule.
An at-fault driver can expect to see an increase in their insurance rates after an accident.
When should I report an accident to the authorities in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, you must report an accident to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles if the accident resulted in injury or death or if the damage exceeds $1,000. Drivers must complete and submit a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report no later than five days after an accident.
Failing to report the accident to the Massachusetts RMV could result in the suspension of your license. If another driver involved in the accident offers to pay for all damages and requests that you not report the accident, you are still responsible for filing the report.
When you’re driving in Massachusetts, you’ll run into some of the busiest roadways in the country. The right car insurance coverage is important for your peace of mind. Carefully research your choices to get the best coverage for your family and budget.
To learn more, from laws and regulations to how you can find the best values on coverage, visit our comprehensive guide to car insurance.
Common questions about car insurance in Massachusetts
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