Published: February 2, 2022Updated: July 28, 2022

Auto Insurance Laws in Massachusetts

The Bay State has some of the most progressive car insurance laws in the U.S.

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Massachusetts is known for many things: excellent clam chowder, beautiful beaches, and charming historical towns. Perhaps less famously, the state also has some of the most progressive car insurance laws in the country. In this article, we’ll explain the minimum coverage in the state, its no-fault laws, and other rules and regulations you need to know before you buy auto insurance in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Laws

Whether you’re buying auto insurance for the first time or switching providers, it’s a good idea to brush up on the auto insurance laws in Massachusetts.

Minimum Coverage in Massachusetts

These are the minimum auto insurance coverage requirements in Massachusetts:

While these are minimum requirements, we recommend getting collision coverage and comprehensive coverage as well. We’ll explain these supplemental coverages below.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

If you get caught driving without insurance in Massachusetts, you could face these penalties:

  • Fines between $500 and $5,000
  • Imprisonment up to a year
  • License suspension for 60 days for the first offense and one year for the second or subsequent offense2

No-Fault Laws

Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning if a car accident is your fault, you won’t have to pay for the other party’s medical costs, only their property damages. Each person will file medical claims related to the accident with their own insurer.

Accident Assessment

Other Auto Insurance Laws

If you have bad credit or are male, you’ll be pleased to learn of Massachusetts’ forgiving auto insurance laws, which are not the norm in many other states.

  • Credit scores: Insurance providers can’t take credit scores into account when determining premiums, which is great news to anyone with poor credit.
  • Cancellations and non-renewals: If your insurance company wants to cancel your policy midterm, it has to notify you 20 days before the effective date. That includes policies canceled for nonpayment. If the provider does not want to renew the policy at the end of its term, it has 45 days before the expiration date to notify you.
  • Statute of limitations for claims: If you want to file a personal injury or property damage claim with your auto insurance company, you have to do it within three years of the incident to get coverage.3
  • Gender: Insurance companies can’t charge men more for auto insurance than women.

DID YOU KNOW?

Believe it or not, in 43 states, men pay more for auto insurance,4 as they have higher fatality rates and DUIs than women.

Supplemental Auto Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts

While Massachusetts has significant minimum coverage requirements, you can also add on supplemental coverage. We recommend collision and comprehensive coverage as a bare minimum for full coverage. These are all of the coverage options available.

  • Collision: Collision insurance would cover your damages in the event of an at-fault accident or damages from a rolling car or potholes.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage reimburses you for auto theft, vandalism, and weather-related incidents such as sinkholes, hail, and floods.
  • Glass: Not all collision insurance covers your windshield, even though windshield damage is common, along with damage to side windows, rear windows, and sunroofs. Glass coverage protects you financially against damage to your windshield, windows, and mirrors.
  • Gap: Say your car is stolen and you have comprehensive coverage. That means you’d get reimbursed for the actual market value (AMV) of your car, the price you’d get if you sold it today. However, since cars depreciate as soon as you leave the dealership lot, this reimbursement will be less than you paid for the car. Gap insurance fills in the difference between what you paid and the car’s AMV so that you get all of your money back.

NOTE

If you leased your car, gap insurance is typically rolled into your lease payments.

  • Towing/labor: If your car breaks down and you need a tow, towing coverage would reimburse you for the towing and labor costs.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): If you die or have a permanent impairment as a result of a car accident, AD&D would give a payout for you or your family.
  • Classic cars: Classic and vintage cars require a special type of auto insurance, as their parts have not been manufactured for years and therefore aren’t easily replaced or repaired.
  • Ridesharing: Personal auto insurance doesn’t cover commercial driving, so if you drive with a ridesharing service like Lyft or Uber, you’ll need to buy additional rideshare coverage.
  • Emergency road service: Stranded? If your car stops working, emergency road service coverage will pay for towing, battery jumps, lockout assistance, or any other services you need to get you out of your roadside emergency.
  • Mechanical breakdown: Neither collision nor comprehensive coverage includes mechanical breakdowns. If there’s a problem with the mechanical parts of your car, mechanical breakdown insurance would reimburse you for the repairs, not including maintenance or wear and tear.
  • Optional basic economic loss (OBEL): For the most protection, OBEL adds on $25,000 to $50,000 worth of basic economic loss associated with an accident. You can decide where this applies, be it lost wages, rehab, or physical therapy.
  • Custom equipment: Have you added a speaker system, video equipment, or other personal electronics to your car? Custom equipment coverage will pay to repair or replace any equipment that your car manufacturer didn’t install.
  • Transportation/travel expenses: Transportation coverage will pay for meals, lodging, and transportation if your car isn’t drivable and you’re at least 50 miles away from home (including the return trip). Note that you can only use this coverage on comprehensive or collision claims, and it doesn’t cover mileage, security deposits, or gas.

To decide which auto coverage to get, read our article on how much car insurance you need.

Cost of Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Looking for cheap car insurance in Massachusetts? You’re facing an uphill battle. Massachusetts has the 13th highest average insurance rates in the country, with an average of $1,182.69 annually in 2019, the last year for which federal data is available. That’s 9 percent higher than the rest of the U.S. on average.

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Average annual 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% n/a
Average annual 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% n/a
How much more expensive car insurance was in Massachusetts vs. the rest of the U.S. 16% 15% 14% 11% 9% 9%5

Car insurance costs in the Bay State are only getting higher. From 2014 to 2018, average annual costs increased by 11 percent — but this was slower than the rest of the country, in which rates increased by 18 percent. Learn how to lower car insurance rates.

What Affects Car Insurance Rates in Massachusetts?

Many factors affect car insurance costs in Massachusetts, barring credit scores and sex.

  • Coverage: Obviously, the more coverage you choose, the higher your car insurance costs will be.
  • Deductibles: Higher deductibles lead to lower premiums, and vice versa.
  • Limits: Higher limits mean higher costs, but also more coverage if you’re involved in an incident.
  • Car: Vehicles have different safety ratings. The safer the car, the lower your rate.
  • Mileage: Drivers with high mileage or long commutes pay more than people with low mileage.
  • Address: People who live in Massachusetts cities like Boston or Worcester pay more for car insurance than those in rural or suburban areas like Amherst or Newton. Why? There are more collisions, thefts, and vandalism in cities, leading to more claims.
  • Driving history: If you’ve received a DUI, gotten tickets, been involved in at-fault accidents, or had your license or registration suspended or revoked, you’ll pay more for insurance than someone with a clean driving history.
  • Age: While auto insurance providers in Massachusetts can’t discriminate on the basis of gender, they can discriminate by age. Since collision rates are higher for drivers under the age of 25, they pay more for insurance than older drivers. The more driving history you have, the lower your rates will be.
  • Marital status: Married people pay less for auto insurance than people who are single, widowed, divorced, or separated, as they’re less likely to have claims.
  • Homeownership: Homeowners pay less for car insurance than renters.

Pre-Insurance Motor Vehicle Inspections

Before you obtain physical damage coverage in Massachusetts, you’ll need to get your car inspected, unless your car is new and you purchased it from a franchised dealership. Even in that case, though, you’ll need to obtain one of the following:

  • A bill of sale with a full description of the vehicle
  • Form 1 from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which establishes the transfer of ownership
  • A copy of the window sticker or dealer invoice that shows the itemized equipment and options along with the total retail price

CARCO

If you don’t qualify to waive your inspection, you can get it done at CARCO, one of the country’s largest pre-insurance inspection providers. Here’s how it works:

  1. You’ll bring your vehicle to a CARCO location. You won’t need to provide any documentation, just the name of your insurance provider (although it’ll be helpful if you also know your policy number and vehicle information).
  2. A CARCO employee will examine and document your vehicle’s physical condition and accessories.
  3. The employee will take a photo of your car and complete a report form.
  4. You’ll sign the form and receive a copy. CARCO will submit the form to your insurance provider electronically.

The inspection is free and should take about 15 minutes. Then, you’ll be well on your way to satisfying Massachusetts’ minimum requirements for physical damage coverage.

Texting and Driving Laws in Massachusetts

Texting and driving, like all cell phone use while driving, is very dangerous, which is why all drivers in Massachusetts can only use hands-free devices while driving. That means no texting or calling on handheld devices while driving, no matter how old you are. These laws are under primary enforcement, meaning that even if you’re not performing any other illegal activity, the police can stop you for using handheld devices while driving.

Penalties and Fines

For breaking handheld device laws while driving, you’ll receive two points on your driving record per violation. For the second offense, you’ll be required to complete a distracted driving program, and for the third offense, you’ll get a surcharge on your insurance. There are also fines: $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for all subsequent offenses.

Not only is texting and driving dangerous, but it can also lead to higher auto insurance rates if you get into an accident. Whenever you’re driving, texting can wait.

Recap

If you want to know more about driving in Massachusetts, read our state driving statistics. If you’re ready to buy auto insurance, read about the best auto insurance available.

Citations

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

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

  3. Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2022).
    https://www.enjuris.com/car-accident/statutes-of-limitations.html

  4. Women pay more on average than men for car insurance, despite getting into fewer accidents, study finds. CNBC Make It. (2021, Apr 19).
    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/19/women-pay-more-than-men-for-car-insurance-in-21-states-study-finds.html

  5. 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

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