In Massachusetts, adhering to state car insurance laws is a legal necessity for all drivers. These laws mandate a minimum level of coverage, ensuring both compliance with the law and some degree of financial protection in case of an accident. While the required minimums provide a baseline, many drivers might choose additional coverage for enhanced financial security. This guide delves into Massachusetts car insurance laws, offering insights into legal requirements and considerations for potentially expanding your coverage to suit your specific driving needs.

What auto insurance is required by law 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 insurance.
  • Drivers must have insurance before registering a vehicle: Massachusetts drivers must present proof of insurance in order to register their vehicle with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
  • 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

In line with Massachusetts auto insurance requirements, it’s mandatory for drivers in the state to have liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. The minimums set by Massachusetts law include:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury liability per person
  • $40,000 for bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage liability per accident
  • $20,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $40,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $8,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)

Opting for the minimum coverage typically results in lower insurance premiums. However, it’s worth considering that such basic coverage might not fully cover the costs of an accident. For instance, if you’re involved in an incident causing $60,000 in property damage, minimum coverage would only account for $5,000 of that, potentially leaving you to cover the remaining $55,000.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that liability-only insurance doesn’t cover damage to your own vehicle. If your car is damaged, say, by hitting a deer or colliding with a structure, the costs for repairs would generally be out of pocket unless you add comprehensive and collision coverage to your policy — often called full coverage.

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 helps pay for their medical costs and lost wages after an accident, regardless of which driver caused the crash. The other 38 states follow tort insurance systems, where the victim of an accident can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to help pay for resulting medical expenses.

Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry PIP insurance to help cover 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 convicted, penalties include:

  • Fines: A fine ranging from $500 to $5,000, with higher fines for multiple offenses.
  • Jail time: Up to one year in jail for a conviction, potentially more for subsequent offenses.
  • Driving privileges: Suspension of driver’s license and registration for 60 days for the first offense, with longer suspensions for repeat offenses.
  • Reinstatement fees: Fees between $100 and $1,200 to reinstate a suspended license, depending on the type of suspension.
  • Additional fees: Fees for appealing an RMV decision or for court hearings may also apply.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Massachusetts

Many drivers elect to buy coverage beyond the Massachusetts auto insurance requirements. Purchasing additional coverage will raise your premium but offer a greater level of financial protection. Here are some common optional coverage types available in Massachusetts:

  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage will help pay for your vehicle’s repairs after a covered accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage will help cover vehicle damage not caused by an accident. In other words, it covers things like theft, vandalism, flooding or falling objects.
  • Accident forgiveness: Your car insurance premium will typically increase after an accident. However, adding accident forgiveness can prevent your policy from being surcharged 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 help pay the difference between the car’s value and your remaining loan balance.

Frequently asked questions

    • There are dozens of car insurance companies in Massachusetts, but the best company is different for every driver. For instance, the best company for customer service might not be the best company for cheap rates. To find the best car insurance company in Massachusetts, shop around for a provider that offers the coverage you need for a good price.
    • Finding the cheapest car insurance in Massachusetts depends on individual factors like your driving history and coverage needs. Plus, each insurer evaluates risk differently, so shopping around could lead to significant savings. For recent rates, you can refer to Bankrate’s cheapest car insurance in Massachusetts resource, which is updated monthly. Additionally, note that comparing quotes from different insurers, asking about discounts and adjusting your coverage limits and deductibles can help lower your car insurance costs.
    • The average cost of car insurance in Massachusetts is $1,665 for full coverage insurance and $413 for minimum coverage insurance. The average car insurance premium in Massachusetts is significantly less expensive than the United States national average, which is $2,543 per year for a full coverage policy and $740 per year for a minimum coverage policy.