If you want to register a car in Massachusetts, you have to first prove that you have car insurance. However, car insurance laws can be confusing, especially if you’ve moved to Massachusetts from another state. It’s important for Massachusetts drivers to understand the car insurance laws and requirements that apply to them.
Types of Required Coverage
Massachusetts requires drivers to carry four types of insurance coverage. They are:
1. Body Injury
Body injury insurance coverage protects you if you injure another person in a car accident. It will help to pay for medical and/or funeral expenses for the other party.
2. Property Damage Liability
Property damage insurance coverage pays for damage that you have caused to someone else’s property in the accident. It covers all types of property, including vehicles and buildings.
3. Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits provide coverage for a portion of medical bills, lost wages, and other similar expenses resulting from a car accident. Notably, PIP does not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of future earning capacity.
4. Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
Even though carrying car insurance is the law in Massachusetts, car accidents involving an uninsured driver happen all too often. In order to protect yourself in this situation, Massachusetts requires you to carry uninsured motorist insurance coverage. You have the option of purchasing additional coverage beyond the mandatory minimum.
With uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance policy will cover you when the responsible party is uninsured. This part of your policy also protects you in hit and run accidents, where you are not able to identify the responsible driver, and in accidents where the responsible driver is operating a stolen car.
Required Minimum Coverage
Massachusetts law requires all drivers to carry a basic level of insurance. Although purchasing additional insurance above the minimum is optional, drivers who carry only the minimum may have substantial out-of-pocket costs if damages exceed the policy limits.
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
Massachusetts law does not require you to carry insurance that covers damage to your own car. If you want your insurance to pay for car repairs, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage. Collision coverage pays for damage resulting from crashes with other vehicles, and comprehensive covers accidents involving animals, objects, and weather.
Massachusetts is considered a “no-fault” state, which means that no matter who was responsible for an accident, each involved person is covered up to the limit of his or her own PIP.
Beyond No-Fault in Massachusetts
In order to pursue compensation for non-economic damages that are not covered by PIP, such as pain and suffering, you must go outside of the Massachusetts no-fault insurance claim system and file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are limitations. M.G.L. c. 231, § 6D establishes the “tort threshold,” a level of damage above which you are allowed to file suit. Some circumstances that would meet the tort threshold include medical expenses exceeding $2,000, permanent disfigurement, or death.
Driving Without Insurance in Massachusetts
Uninsured drivers in Massachusetts face serious consequences. Even first-time offenders will have their licenses suspended for two months. They will also have to pay a fine of up to $500, as well as pay upfront for a year of insurance. Repeat offenders should expect a year’s suspension, fines up to $5,000, and possible imprisonment.
New in 2020: Massachusetts Hands-Free Driving Law
On February 23, 2020, Massachusetts became the final state in New England to enforce a hands-free driving law. Under the law, drivers who are caught holding a phone or other electronic device are subject to penalties including fines up to $500, mandatory driver education courses, and car insurance surcharges.
Representation Against Massachusetts Car Insurance Companies
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you will most likely have to face billion-dollar insurance companies—and the attorneys who work for them. As a car accident victim, hiring your own legal representation is the best way to protect your rights. With decades of experience trying personal injury cases, Worcester attorney Peter Ventura can fight the insurance company to ensure you are fairly compensated. When you’re ready to discuss your options, please contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.