Massachusetts Car Insurance
As one of the oldest states in the country, Massachusetts has had plenty of time to develop and refine its auto insurance regulations. As a result, the state's current laws provide a few unusual programs and requirements compared to other localities, so it's important to understand your rights as a responsible driver in the Commonwealth.
Required Car Insurance Policies in MA
Massachusetts requires you to hold four different types of mandatory auto insurance coverage.
Bodily Injury to Others
This type of coverage pays for injuries inflicted on anybody outside of your vehicle in an accident. That category includes pedestrians, drivers of other vehicles, and anybody else who was not a driver or passenger in your vehicle.
You're required to hold at least $20,000 of coverage per person, and $40,000 per accident.
Personal Injury Protection
This coverage category applies to the driver of your vehicle at the time of an accident, along with any passengers in the car at the time, as well as members of your household or unrelated pedestrians who suffered injuries that may not be covered by the Bodily Injury category.
The coverage may be used to pay for medical bills, replacement services, or up to 75 percent of lost wages due to injuries caused by an accident. You must hold at least $8,000 of coverage.
Bodily Injury From Uninsured Vehicles
Uninsured vehicle coverage is used to pay for bodily injuries caused by another vehicle whose driver or owner did not hold an appropriate insurance policy of their own at the time of the accident. It also applies to cases where the other driver may or may not have been insured, but fled the scene and has not been identified by the time you submit your claim.
Any type of bodily injury that would be covered by another category (like standard bodily injury coverage) typically defaults to that category, instead. You'll need to consult with your insurance agent to determine the precise conditions for that scenario.
This category covers the driver of your vehicle, along with any family members or passengers at the time of the event.
You must maintain coverage of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.
Damage to Someone Else's Property
This coverage applies to any damage caused to any type of property owned by another person. It's used when your vehicle caused damage when driven by you, family members, or an unrelated authorized driver listed on the insurance policy.
Massachusetts has one of the lowest mandatory state minimums for this type of insurance, requiring only $5,000 of coverage.
Optional Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts
You can supplement your auto insurance policy with optional types of coverage that exceed the compulsory state minimums. Drivers usually buy additional coverage to ensure they won't be on the hook for civil damages that exceed mandatory minimums, or to add new insurance categories that provide additional benefits.
Supplementary Insurance Coverage
This type of insurance is used to increase the coverage amounts for categories like PIP or property damage. Notably, the very low state minimum of $5,000 for property damage is likely to be exceeded by any major accident, which could make you liable for thousands of dollars in a civil suit if you struck another vehicle.
You can use this type of coverage to boost any insurance category, but most drivers focus on increasing the limits for property damage, personal injury protection and bodily injury to others.
Guest and Non-State Coverage
It's important to note that none of the state's compulsory insurance types apply to damage caused outside the Commonwealth, and many don't apply to "guest" passengers in your vehicle. For that reason, many drivers buy supplementary policies that will pay for accidents in other states, and cover anybody who falls outside the usual categories for passengers in your vehicle. Work with your insurance agent to determine when these policies may be helpful.
This type of coverage is used to pay for any damage to your vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle. It can be used to close the gap between the payout from another driver's property damage policy, which is likely to be necessary given that category's unusually low minimum requirements.
Comprehensive Auto Insurance
Comprehensive policies apply to any other type of damage not related to a direct collision with another vehicle. This includes striking an object or animal, or running off the road due to weather conditions. Since it's the primary category for protecting your own vehicle, it's important to hold enough coverage to pay for full replacement, if necessary.
Special Considerations in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is usually near the center of the pack when it comes to statewide car theft rates, so it's not a significant concern for most drivers. However, wild weather conditions in the winter and during hurricane season can cause higher accident rates, so you should always hold an appropriate amount of comprehensive coverage.
Because of the state's high proportion of urban and high-density suburban areas, fender benders and minor collisions are more common than rural states, and comprehensive premiums are often higher as a result in those counties.
Car Insurance Premiums in MA
As in many states, higher density areas of Massachusetts have higher premiums, but rural areas may have rates less than half as high as the average. In general, premiums in the state are higher than more rural states, but not as high as many of their northeastern neighbors.
Still, it's important to ensure you're applying as many discounts as you can to get a good deal, including AARP and AAA membership, and service member or military discounts.
Notably, MA is one of only three states that forbids insurers from using your credit score to calculate a quote or deny coverage.
Rights and Responsibilities
The state has a comprehensive outline of rights given to insured drivers, including an unusual "mandatory offer" type of insurance, which requires insurers to provide a "default" insurance package if you're not able to secure a typical policy.
You have a responsibility to maintain appropriate minimum coverage while registered in the state, and failure to remain insured could lead to a $500-5,000 fine or up to one year in jail.