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Massachusetts drivers are required by law to carry at least a minimum amount of car insurance. Knowing what coverage is required and its limits can help you avoid any brushes with the law, but also provide an opportunity to know how much coverage you need. Minimum car insurance requirements are typically low, so drivers often opt for more coverage to be more financially protected while driving. Bankrate explores car insurance laws in Massachusetts and covers everything you need to know.
Car insurance laws in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has several core car insurance laws. Whether you are a current Massachusetts resident or are moving to the state, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the rules and your rights as a driver. Here are some of the car insurance laws in Massachusetts:
- Drivers must carry minimum coverage insurance: All drivers in Massachusetts must carry a minimum amount of liability and uninsured motorist coverage.
- Drivers must carry no-fault insurance: Massachusetts is a no-fault state, and drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
- Drivers must have insurance before registering a vehicle: Massachusetts drivers must present proof of insurance in order to register their vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Household members must be added to your policy: Per Massachusetts state law, any relatives that live in your household must be listed on your car insurance policy, even if they have their own insurance policy.
- You cannot be denied coverage for discriminatory reasons: In Massachusetts, insurance companies are not allowed to consider a driver’s credit score, age, gender, marital status, education or income when calculating their policy premium.
- All drivers have the right to auto insurance: If a driver in Massachusetts is denied coverage from a preferred auto insurance provider, the driver can purchase insurance through the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (MAIP).
Liability insurance in Massachusetts
Massachusetts insurance law states that all drivers must carry liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. The Massachusetts minimum car insurance requirements are:
- $20,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $40,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $5,000 property damage liability per accident
- $20,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $40,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $8,000 personal injury protection (PIP)
Drivers who opt for minimum coverage insurance will generally pay the lowest insurance premium. However, settling for minimum coverage insurance is not always the best choice. Car accidents can be expensive, and there is no guarantee that liability-only insurance will be enough to cover the full cost of an accident.
For example, imagine that you drive into a storefront and cause $60,000 in property damage. With minimum coverage insurance, your policy would only cover $5,000 in losses. In that case, you would be responsible for paying the $55,000 difference out of pocket.
Another thing to consider is that liability-only insurance does not include any protection for your vehicle. If you were to hit a deer or accidentally crash into a neighbor’s mailbox, you would be responsible for paying for your vehicle’s repairs. However, if you had optional comprehensive and collision coverage on your policy, your insurance would kick in to help cover the damage to your vehicle.
Is Massachusetts a no-fault state?
Massachusetts is one of 12 states that follows no-fault car insurance laws. In a no-fault state, a driver’s insurer pays for their medical costs and lost wages after an accident, regardless of which driver caused the crash. The other 38 states follow fault insurance laws, where the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays for the other driver’s medical expenses.
Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP is the portion of your car insurance policy that covers your medical bills after an accident. The minimum PIP coverage in Massachusetts is $8,000 per person and $8,000 per accident, but drivers have the option to purchase higher coverage limits.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Massachusetts
Driving without car insurance in Massachusetts is illegal and can result in serious consequences. If you get caught driving without insurance in Massachusetts, you could be fined and your license may be suspended for up to 60 days. For two or more offenses, you could face higher fines, longer license suspensions and potentially jail time.
Additional auto insurance coverage options in Massachusetts
Most drivers buy coverage beyond the Massachusetts auto insurance requirements. Purchasing additional coverage will raise your premium, but it offers a greater level of protection. Here are some common optional coverage types available in Massachusetts:
- Collision coverage: Collision coverage will pay for your vehicle’s repairs after a covered accident. The average cost of collision coverage in Massachusetts is around $447 per year.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage will cover vehicle damage not caused by an accident. In other words, it covers things like theft, vandalism, flooding or falling objects. Adding comprehensive coverage to your policy costs $150 on average in Massachusetts.
- Accident forgiveness: Your car insurance premium will typically increase after an accident. However, adding accident forgiveness coverage to your policy can prevent your rate from going up after your first at-fault accident.
- Gap insurance: Gap insurance is beneficial for drivers who have a leased or financed vehicle. If your new car gets totaled in a covered incident, gap insurance will pay the difference between the car’s value and the remaining loan balance.