Everything you need to know about driving in the Commonwealth
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Massachusetts is one of 15 top expensive states to buy car insurance, with average costs 12 percent higher than the national average. However, in the Commonwealth, 96 percent of drivers comply with the minimum requirements of liability, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist coverage. Plus, motor vehicle theft and traffic fatality rates are 148 and 112 percent lower than the national averages respectively.
So, while car insurance in Massachusetts is more expensive than in other states, you’re less likely to have damages, the best-case scenario in the world of car insurance. We’ll tell you how much car insurance the state’s nearly 5 million licensed drivers need, and other interesting laws you need to know before you drive in Massachusetts.
These are the minimum coverage limits in Massachusetts:
Many states only require liability coverage, which only comprises bodily injury and property damage coverage. Massachusetts adds on PIP and uninsured motorist coverage, which contribute to the high average costs.
We recommend getting more than the state minimum coverage. Instead, get full coverage car insurance, although it’s not the cheapest car insurance option. Here are the coverages and limits we think you should consider, if you can afford them.
Collision and comprehensive coverage cover damages to your car from both at-fault accidents and other damages, like hail, floods, theft, and vandalism.
Unfortunately, car insurance in Massachusetts isn’t cheap. In 2020, the last time the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released national data, costs were 12 percent higher than in the rest of the country.
|Average yearly spending on car insurance in Massachusetts||$1,036||$1,059||$1,097||1,137||$1,167||$1,183||$1,170|
|Year-over-year difference in Massachusetts||N/A||2%||3%||4%||3%||1%||-1%|
|Average yearly spending on car insurance in the U.S.||$869||$897||$945||$1,006||$1,057||$1,070||$1,047|
|Year-over-year difference in the U.S.||N/A||3%||5%||6%||5%||1%||-2%|
|How much more expensive was annual car insurance in Massachusetts vs. the rest of the U.S.?||16%||15%||14%||11%||9%2||9%||12%|
From 2019 to 2020, car insurance costs in Massachusetts actually decreased by 1 percent, with average costs of $1,170 per year in 2020.
Of course, that’s just an average. We’ve seen insurance rates fall anywhere from $387 all the way up to $5,045.84 for teen drivers. The cost of auto insurance depends on many factors, including your age, ZIP code, and provider, so to find out your price, you’ll need to get car insurance quotes from agents or brokers.
Speaking of providers, here are all of the car insurance companies available in the Commonwealth:
These are the best ways to save on car insurance in Massachusetts:
We know that 96 percent of drivers in Massachusetts have car insurance, but what about the other 4 percent? They could face these penalties if they are caught driving without insurance:
Your proof of insurance can be either paper or electronic, such as a downloaded version of your ID or a mobile app from your insurance company that contains your policy information.
Of course, having car insurance is only one of many of Massachusetts’ driving laws. Let’s go over some of the most important laws you need to know as a driver in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning each driver pays their own medical costs under PIP, regardless of fault. However, the at-fault driver still pays for the other party’s property damages. Since Massachusetts has modified comparative negligence laws, the victim can only receive money if they’re less than 50 percent responsible for the accident.4
More on that pesky 4 percent of uninsured drivers. While Massachusetts requires drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage, it does not require its cousin, underinsured motorist coverage. Additionally, Massachusetts doesn’t allow stacking, which means multiplying the number of cars on your policy by your uninsured motorist limits. So even if you have five cars under a $20,000/$40,000 limit, your limit would stay the same.
That being said, driving in Massachusetts is much safer, thanks to the high rates of insured drivers. Given that the average state has an estimated 12 percent of uninsured drivers, Massachusetts fares better by a whopping 75 percent.5
A DUI may take place in a night, but its effects can last for years. In Massachusetts, DUIs will stay on your record for five years. For your first offense, you could receive a 90-day license suspension, with limited driving privileges for trips to work or school.
If your blood alcohol concentration was 0.02 percent or higher, you could face even more penalties, and if it’s a repeat conviction, you’ll have to use a DUI interlock for two years. The average rates for car insurance increase by 80 percent for drivers with DUIs, according to our research on DUIs and car insurance.
Everyone 13 and older in all seats of a car must wear seat belts in Massachusetts. However, this law is secondary, meaning that law enforcement can’t pull you over solely for not wearing seat belts. You can only get ticketed for this if you’ve also violated a primary enforcement law.
Texting and driving may be ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. In Massachusetts, you can only use hands-free devices while driving. Unlike seat belts, this law is under primary enforcement, so if the police see you using a handheld electronic device while driving, they could pull you over for this action alone.
There are steep penalties for cell phone usage while driving.
Maybe you’re brushing up on your state’s laws because you’re a teen driver. To drive in Massachusetts, you must first get a learner’s permit, then complete the driver’s education accomplishments before getting a Class D or M license.
When it comes to filing claims, the sooner the better. In Massachusetts, if you wait more than three years after an accident to file a personal injury or property damage claim, your insurance provider won’t need to cover it, as it falls outside the statute of limitations.
Say your insurance provider wants to cancel your policy before its expiration date. If it’s because of fraud, misrepresentation, nonpayment, or a revoked or suspended license on your part, the company must notify you 20 days before the policy expires.
For non-renewals, which means that the company decides not to renew your policy at the end of your term, it has 45 days to alert you before the expiration date, according to the Massachusetts Commonwealth website. Learn more about the difference between cancellation and non-renewals.
Although Massachusetts requires car insurance for all drivers, it doesn’t say that you have to get your insurance from a provider like Allstate. You can self-insure if you can prove that you can pay any judgments against you. However, self-insurance is completely at the discretion of the insurance commissioner, and it’s a rarity in this state and beyond.
Before your insurance company covers your car for physical damages, you’ll need to get it inspected, unless it’s:
If your car doesn’t fall into these categories, you’ll need to get it inspected through CARCO. CARCO will complete the state inspection report form and take pictures of your car. You’ll sign the form, and then CARCO will submit it to your insurance company. Inspection is free and takes about 15 minutes.6
SR-22s, proof of minimum insurance, aren’t required in Massachusetts. Rather, you can prove your coverage with your insurance ID card.
If you’re ordered to take a defensive driving course, use this URL to find a course: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/driver-attitudinal-retraining-courses.
Massachusetts doesn’t have universal requirements on when to take a defensive driving course, how many points will be expunged from your record per course, or the length or cost of courses.
In order to sue someone for injuries or noneconomic damages in Massachusetts, you’ll need to meet either a monetary or serious-injury threshold. If you’re suing for a serious injury, it must be one of the following:
The monetary threshold is $2,000.7
Some states require you to file a police report following a car accident. Massachusetts is one of those states — if the accident involved an injury, death, or property damage worth over $1,000. Report the accident within five days or your license could be suspended.
Known for its progressive laws, Massachusetts is one of the few states to ban car insurance pricing discrimination based on credit scores and gender. In other words, those with bad credit won’t get higher rates than those with good credit, all else being equal. The same is true of women and men; Massachusetts isn’t a state where men pay more for car insurance.
You’ve heard of cars being “totaled,” but what does that word really mean? In Massachusetts, a car is declared a total loss if the cost to repair it is more than its actual market value. Insurance companies are free to determine actual market value through sources like the National Automobile Dealers Association and Kelley Blue Book.
To cover the cost of depreciation, get gap coverage, which will reimburse you for the difference between your car’s actual market value and what you paid for it originally.
Don’t waste your time on confusing government websites. We have all of the information you need to deal with the RMV right here.
Here is the contact information for the RMV:
You’ll need the following before you register your car:
Lost a copy of your car title? No problem. Here’s how to get a new one (without using a notary!).
Finally, here’s the contact information for the Massachusetts DOI:
Car repairs in Massachusetts cost 1 percent lower than the national average.
When it comes to crime and traffic fatalities, Massachusetts is one of the safest states in the nation.
The state only had 99 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020. That’s 148 percent less than the national average of 246, which is pretty remarkable.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|Barnstable Town, MA||28|
Given their size, the Springfield and greater Providence areas had higher motor vehicle theft rates than the state average, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.9
Massachusetts fared similarly well in traffic fatalities. In 2020, it had only 334 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, 112 percent lower than the national average. Perhaps the state’s strict laws on distracted driving and seat belts had something to do with this impressive statistic.
There you have it — everything you need to know about car insurance and driving in Massachusetts. But if you have more questions, read our car insurance FAQs below.
Learn even more about car insurance in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The following car insurance is required in Massachusetts:
Drivers are required to carry proof of the required auto insurance in Massachusetts.
Insurance follows the car, not the driver, in Massachusetts. That means it covers anyone on your policy who drives your car, so long as they have a valid license. Some policies cover anyone you allow to drive your car under “permissive use,” but it depends on the provider.
Car insurance is expensive in Massachusetts. As of 2020, the last year the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released national data, the annual average cost of car insurance in Massachusetts was $1,170, which is 12 percent higher than the national average of $1,047.
Massachusetts is a no-fault car insurance state, meaning that each party pays for their own medical care, lost wages, and child care through personal injury protection, regardless of who was at fault. The at-fault party, however, is still responsible for all of the property damage.
Understanding Auto Insurance. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2022).
2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
Section 34J. 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2022).
Car Accident Defenses: Contributory and Comparative Negligence. Nolo. (2022).
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
Get Your Car Inspected: Find an Inspection Site. CARCO Group. (2022).
What Is the Difference between No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance States? HG.org Legal Resources. (2022).
2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2020, July).
NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. National Insurance Crime Bureau. (2021, Aug 31).