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Published: February 7, 2022Last updated: October 19, 2022

Guide to Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Everything you need to know about driving in the Commonwealth

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Massachusetts is one of 17 top expensive states to buy car insurance, with average costs 9 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.

Required Car Insurance 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.

How Much Coverage You Need

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.

  • Liability insurance: $500,000 for bodily injury and property damage coverage each
  • Personal injury protection: $500,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: $500,000 (or whatever your bodily injury limit is)
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage: The actual market value of your car (i.e., the amount you’d receive if you sold it tomorrow)

Collision and comprehensive coverage cover damages to your car from both at-fault accidents and other damages, like hail, floods, theft, and vandalism.

Cost of Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, car insurance in Massachusetts isn’t cheap. In 2019, the last time the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released national data, costs were 9 percent higher than in the rest of the country.

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Average yearly spending on car insurance in Massachusetts $1,035.52 $1,058.50 $1,096.53 1,136.60 $1,167.16 $1,182.69
Year-over-year increase in Massachusetts N/A 2% 3% 4% 3% 1%
Average yearly spending on car insurance in the U.S. $869.47 $896.66 $945.02 $1,006.33 $1,056.55 $1,070.47
Year-over-year increase in the U.S. N/A 3% 5% 6% 5% 1%
How much more expensive was annual car insurance in Massachusetts vs. the rest of the U.S.? 16% 15% 14% 11% 9%2 9%

Unfortunately, car insurance only gets more expensive year over year by an average of 1 percent. In 2019, the average annual cost of car insurance in Massachusetts was $1,182.69.

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.

Car Insurance Providers in Massachusetts

Speaking of providers, here are all of the car insurance companies available in the Commonwealth:

  • Allstate
  • Arbella Mutual
  • GEICO
  • Hanover
  • Main Street America
  • MetLife
  • Metropolitan P&C
  • N&D Group
  • Plymouth Rock Assurance
  • Progressive
  • Safety
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA
  • Vermont Mutual

Ways to Save

These are the best ways to save on car insurance in Massachusetts:

  1. Raise your deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums. Just make sure you could actually pay your deductible if you got into an at-fault accident tomorrow; how deductibles work is that you’ll need to pay them for your insurance kicks in.
  2. Lower your limits. As long as you don’t go below the minimum coverage, you can lower your policy limits to save money. Of course, make sure that you’d still have enough coverage if you were to get into an at-fault accident.
  3. Bundle your insurance policies. If you already have another type of insurance policy, like homeowners insurance, get your car insurance from the same provider. Many providers offer discounts for bundled policies.
  4. Take advantage of other discounts. Ask your agent what auto insurance discounts apply to you. Even taking a defensive driving course could save you money on car insurance.

Proof of Car Insurance

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:

  • A fee of $500 to $5,000
  • Imprisonment up to a year
  • License suspension for 60 days for the first offense and one year for subsequent offenses3

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.

Massachusetts State Auto Laws

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.

No-Fault State

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

Uninsured Drivers

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

DUI Laws

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.

Seat Belt Laws

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.

Distracted Driving Laws

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.

  • First offense: $100 fine, two points added to your driving record
  • Second offense: $250 fine, two points added to your driving record, mandatory completion of distracted driving education course
  • Third offense: $500 fine, two points added to your driving record, insurance surcharge

Teen Driver Laws

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.

  • Learner’s permit: If you have a learner’s permit, you can only drive while accompanied by a licensed driver who is over 21 and has been driving for more than a year. If you’re under 18, you can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian with at least a year of driving experience and a valid license.
  • Driver’s education requirements: If you are under 18 and want to get a Class D or M license, you’ll need to complete 30 hours of instruction on Massachusetts car laws and vehicle operation. You’ll also need 18 hours of instruction in a vehicle — 12 hours behind the wheel and six hours of observation.
  • Driver’s license requirements: Once you’ve had a valid learner’s permit and a clean driving record for six months plus the required driver education, you’ll need to complete 40 hours of supervised driving, or 30 hours if you’ve completed a driver skills development program. A parent or guardian must certify these hours and participate in two hours of a driver’s ed course, unless they did it with an older sibling within the last five years. You’ll then need to pass a final driving exam, perhaps the scariest part of the process.

Claims Statutes of Limitations

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.

Non-Renewal and Cancellation Notification Laws

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.

Self-Insurance

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.

Inspection Requirements

Before your insurance company covers your car for physical damages, you’ll need to get it inspected, unless it’s:

  • New
  • Unused
  • From a franchised dealership with either:
    • A copy of the bill of sale, which includes a full description of the car
    • A copy of Form 1 from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), which shows the transfer of ownership from the dealer to you
    • A copy of the window sticker or dealer invoice that shows itemized options or equipment and the total retail price

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

SR-22s, proof of minimum insurance, aren’t required in Massachusetts. Rather, you can prove your coverage with your insurance ID card.

Defensive Driving Courses

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.

CheckNOTE

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.

Thresholds to Sue

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:

  • Permanent and serious disfigurement
  • Fractured bone
  • Substantial loss of sight or hearing

The monetary threshold is $2,000.7

When You Must Report an Accident

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.

Credit and Sex Pricing Discrimination

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.

Total-Loss Threshold

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.

Light BulbTIP

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.

Contact Information

Don’t waste your time on confusing government websites. We have all of the information you need to deal with the RMV right here.

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

Here is the contact information for the RMV:

  • Mailing address:
    • Registry of Motor Vehicles
      P.O. Box 55889
      Boston, MA 02205
  • URL: https://www.mass.gov/forms/rmv-customer-contact-us
  • Phone number: 857-368-8200

You’ll need the following before you register your car:

  • Proof of insurance
  • A completed registration and title form
  • Proof of ownership
  • Correct payment, which varies by plate type
  • Identification such as a driver’s license or Social Security card

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title

Lost a copy of your car title? No problem. Here’s how to get a new one (without using a notary!).

  1. If you want to request a new title by mail, print and fill out the following form: https://www.mass.gov/doc/application-for-duplicate-certificate-of-title/download
  2. Along with a $25 fee, send it to this address:
    • Registry of Motor Vehicles Title Division
      P.O. Box 55885
      Boston, MA 02205
  3. If you want to complete the process online, use this link: https://atlas-myrmv.massdot.state.ma.us/myrmv/_/

Massachusetts Division of Insurance

Finally, here’s the contact information for the Massachusetts DOI:

  • Mailing address:
    • Massachusetts Division of Insurance
      1000 Washington St., Suite 810
      Boston, MA 02118
  • Phone number: 617-521-7794
  • URL: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-insurance

Cost of Car Repairs in Massachusetts

Car repairs in Massachusetts cost 1 percent lower than the national average.

  • Labor: $135.89
  • Parts: $244.78
  • Labor and parts: $380.678

Crime and Traffic Fatalities in Massachusetts

When it comes to crime and traffic fatalities, Massachusetts is one of the safest states in the nation.

Car Theft

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
Springfield, MA 149
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 136
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 96
Worcester, MA-CT 94
Pittsfield, MA 70
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

Traffic Fatalities

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.

Recap

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn even more about car insurance in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

What car insurance is required in Massachusetts?

The following car insurance is required in Massachusetts:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
  • Property damage coverage: $5,000
  • Personal injury protection: $8,000 per person and per accident
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident

Drivers are required to carry proof of the required auto insurance in Massachusetts.

Does insurance follow the car or the driver 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.

Is car insurance expensive in Massachusetts?

Car insurance is expensive in Massachusetts. As of 2019, the last year the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released national data, the annual average cost of car insurance in Massachusetts was $1,182.69, which is 9 percent higher than the national average of $1,070.47.

Is Massachusetts a no-fault car insurance state?

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.

Citations

  1. Understanding Auto Insurance. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2022).
    https://www.mass.gov/service-details/understanding-auto-insurance

  2. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  3. Section 34J. 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2022).
    https://malegislature.gov/laws/generallaws/parti/titlexiv/chapter90/section34j

  4. Car Accident Defenses: Contributory and Comparative Negligence. Nolo. (2022).
    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/car-accident-defenses-contributory-comparative-30148.html

  5. One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf

  6. Get Your Car Inspected: Find an Inspection Site. CARCO Group. (2022).
    https://www.carcogroup.com/policyholder-resources/inspection-site-locator

  7. What Is the Difference between No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance States? HG.org Legal Resources. (2022).
    https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/what-is-the-difference-between-no-fault-and-at-fault-insurance-states-35152

  8. 2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2020, July).
    https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/

  9. NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. National Insurance Crime Bureau. (2021, Aug 31).
    https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/nicb-hot-spots-auto-thefts-significantly-across-country