Massachusetts has a lot to offer out on the open road. For one, its drivers are some of the safest in the United States, with The Bay State ranking last in the country for deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Drivers will also be pleased to hear that their safe traveling is reflected in Massachusetts’ car insurance rates, which are slightly below the national average of $1,321. Before you start policy hunting, though, make sure you familiarize yourself with the framework of Massachusetts car insurance laws, including minimums, coverage types, penalties, and more.
Coverage You Need to Drive Legally in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law requires everyone who registers a vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide proof of the state mandatory minimum car insurance. You’ll need to have the following minimum insurance before you drive or park a vehicle in the state on a public roadway, according to Massachusetts car insurance laws:
- Bodily injury liability: $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $5,000 per accident
- Bodily injury caused to you by uninsured/underinsured driver: $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
- Personal injury protection: $8,000 per person
Proof of Coverage
Massachusetts is unlike any other state in the way it determines drivers’ insurance status. Rather than requiring drivers to carry proof, such as an auto insurance ID card, Massachusetts requires drivers to show their insurance documents when they register their vehicles. Drivers’ insurance status is then displayed on their registration card and reflected in the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, or RMV. Insurers are required by Massachusetts car insurance laws to share policy changes, such as cancellations and renewals, with the RMV.
This way, when law enforcement wants to know if a driver is properly insured, they can simply query the RMV and get the most current information. So proof of insurance cards are not typically issued in Massachusetts, and you’re not required to carry one. However, most other states do require them when you’re pulled over, so you might want to consider carrying one, especially if you cross state lines.
Understanding a No-Fault car Insurance State
Massachusetts is one of only twelve no-fault states in the country. That might sound like meaningless legal jargon, but it actually has a significant effect on how you buy and use car insurance in Massachusetts. In a no-fault system, drivers’ own carriers pay their claims, regardless of who’s at fault in an accident. This is one of the reasons Massachusetts car insurance laws require personal injury protection coverage, which gives policyholders additional protection in injury accidents irrespective of fault.
No-fault systems also limit the ability to sue after a car accident. Massachusetts’ auto insurance laws require your injuries to exceed a certain threshold before you can file a claim against another driver in court. This is another reason why Massachusetts law requires personal injury protection (PIP) — PIP gives you a fund to dip into when you don’t meet the threshold for a lawsuit but have still sustained injuries.
Optional Coverages Available
Keep in mind that Massachusetts auto insurance laws govern only the bare minimum; you can always purchase more coverage and additional coverage types. Here are just a few examples of the coverage options legally available in Massachusetts that you might consider adding to your policy:
- Comprehensive: This type of insurance pays for repair or replacement to your vehicle after a covered loss, such as after hitting a deer, vehicle theft, or a weather-related event.
- Medical payments or MedPay: While PIP coverage is mandatory in Massachusetts, med pay coverage is optional. Medical payments coverage will pick up the tab for your medical bills after your PIP coverage is exhausted, regardless of who is at fault.
- Collision: This type of policy pays for repairs to or replacement of your vehicle after a deductible when you collide with another car or an inanimate object.
- Rental reimbursement: When your car is being repaired, this insurance pays for the cost of a rental car related to a covered loss for 24 hours or more.
- Roadside assistance: This coverage offers services or reimbursement for services like towing, locksmiths, and refueling.
Unique Things About Massachusetts Laws You Need to Know
There are some idiosyncrasies in Massachusetts car insurance laws you’ll want to be aware of since they might be unexpected. For one, Massachusetts law requires all relatives that live in the same household as you to be listed on your car insurance policy if they meet certain criteria. They’ll have to be on your policy if they are licensed to drive and are related to you by blood or law, such as a wife or adopted son. This law applies even if that driver already has his/her own policy.
Another unique aspect of Massachusetts law is a prohibition on auto insurers using credit information to issue policies and set premiums. A car insurance company cannot deny you a policy or refuse to renew a policy based on your credit information, nor can a carrier decide your premiums based on credit or a credit score. This is different from federal law, which does grant insurers access to credit-based information.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured or Underinsured
Driving uninsured in Massachusetts carries stiff penalties. For failing to carry the minimum coverage, you could face a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000. You could also be imprisoned for up to a year or be hit with both a fine and a prison sentence.
The consequences for your driver’s license will depend on whether you have prior offenses. If it’s your first infraction, your license will be suspended for 60 days. If you’ve been convicted of driving without insurance once or more in the past six years, your license will be suspended for one year.
Now you have what you need to start looking for a policy that will keep you on the right side of the law without breaking the bank. Massachusetts already has some of the lowest rates in the country, but you can find even better rates by comparing premiums from different carriers.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.