Contents of the AUTO.TXT file
BUYING YOUR MASSACHUSETTS
MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS
Governor of Massachusetts
ROGER M. SINGER
Commissioner of Insurance
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Insurance
FROM THE COMMISSIONER
"Buying Your Massachusetts Automobile Insurance" has
been prepared for you by the Massachusetts Division of
Insurance as part of our continuing effort to inform consumers
on the detailed and sometimes complex aspects of purchasing
automobile insurance in the Commonwealth. This guide outlines
the basic automobile coverages you are required by law to
purchase, as well as the coverages available to you on an
optional basis. We have also included a description of the
Safe Driver Insurance Plan - an incentive plan which offers
policyholders premium credits for careful and safe driving
habits. Furthermore, this guide provides information on filing
complaints and money-saving tips for reducing your premium
without sacrificing insurance protection.
I urge you to examine closely the new choices in
coverages, limits, deductibles, and discounts effective for
1989, made possible by the passage of the Automobile Insurance
Act of 1988. As you may know, this represents the first
improvement in the No-Fault law which, when enacted in 1970,
succeeded in speeding up payments to injured persons while
reducing bodily injury claims and holding down premiums.
However, the law had never been revised to take into account
years of medical cost inflation. Insureds will now enjoy a
significant savings as the result of a No-Fault system updated
with greater Personal Injury Protection together with a higher
threshold for filing personal injury lawsuits.
Furthermore, as a strong, consumer-oriented reform
initiative, this new law gives Massachusetts consumers greater
choices when buying their 1989 automobile insurance. The most
notable additions include changing the standard deductible from
$300 to $500 for both the collision and comprehensive
coverages, making available a $100 glass deductible, increasing
the discount available for vehicles equipped with a
signal-activated recovery system, and making the underinsured
automobile coverage optional. In addition, the reform law
permits insurers to pay consumers directly for collision and
comprehensive claims, thus encouraging competitive pricing for
repairs. Finally, the law requires insurers to inspect certain
used cars prior to issuing comprehensive and collision
coverages as one way to cut costs in the system.
If you need further information on automobile insurance,
contact the Massachusetts Division of Insurance at 280 Friend
Street, Boston, MA 02114, (617) 727-3333 or 436 Dwight Street,
Room 338, Springfield, MA 01103, (417) 784-1190.
I hope this brochure will be helpful to you, whether you
are purchasing a policy for the first time, or renewing an old
policy. I invite you to contact the Division with any
questions or concerns you may have.
Roger M. Singer
Commissioner of Insurance
1. WHAT TYPE OF INSURANCE AM I REQUIRED TO PURCHASE?
Part 1: Bodily Injury to Others..................
Part 2: Personal Injury Protection...............
Part 3: Bodily Injury Caused by an
Part 4: Damage to Someone Else's Property........
2. WHAT OTHER COVERAGES ARE AVAILABLE?
Part 5: Optional Bodily Injury to Others.........
Part 6: Medical Payments.........................
Part 7: Collision................................
Part 8: Limited Collision........................
Part 9: Comprehensive............................
Part 10: Substitute Transportation................
Part 11: Towing and Labor.........................
Part 12: Bodily Injury Caused by an
3. SAVING MONEY...........................................
4. SAFE DRIVER INSURANCE PLAN.............................
5. WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT?....................
WHAT TYPE OF INSURANCE AM I REQUIRED TO PURCHASE?
Since 1927, under Massachusetts insurance law, motorists
have been required to purchase compulsory motor vehicle
liability insurance. All registered motor vehicles in the
Commonwealth must be insured under Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the
Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy. When you buy this
insurance, you receive financial protection in case you become
involved in an accident.
There are eight other coverages available to you, and in
general it is up to you whether you purchase them or not.
These optional coverages provide additional protection against
financial loss resulting from an automobile accident. If you
have borrowed money to purchase your automobile, your lender
may legally require you to carry the optional coverages,
Collision (Part 7) and Comprehensive (Part 9).
Although automobile insurance will always be expensive
in an urban state like Massachusetts, many motorists continue
to pay a higher premium than they should because they buy
coverages that do not suit their needs. The most common and
costly mistake consumers make when buying automobile insurance
is to automatically renew last year's policy without taking
into account how their insurance needs might have changed.
Instead, when you renew a policy, take the time to reevaluate
your insurance choices and your eligibility for the many
discount opportunities. Furthermore, buy only the coverages
you need and select deductibles you can afford. This will make
a big difference in your insurance bill.
Of course, not all insurance-buying decisions are simple
or clear-cut, because you cannot predict the future. When in
doubt, remember that it is more important to have insurance
against large losses which could threaten your standard of
living than smaller losses that you can afford to pay yourself.
Part 1: BODILY INJURY TO OTHERS will pay for the damages to
anyone injured or killed by your auto in Massachusetts up to a
limit of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident.
Part 1 applies whether your auto is being driven by you
or by someone else with your permission. However, this
coverage never covers injuries to the driver of your auto or to
guests in your auto.
Limits higher than $10,000 per person and $20,000 per
accident and coverage for injuries incurred by guest occupants
of your auto and for out-of-state accidents may be purchased
under Part 5.
Part 2: PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP), provides payment of
up to $8,000 to you, anyone driving your auto with your
consent, anyone living in your household, passengers in your
auto and pedestrians struck by your auto, for expenses incurred
as the result of an accident, without regard to fault. PIP
pays for medical expenses, replacement services and 75% of any
If you already have good health insurance and disability
health plans - provided by your employer, for example - you
should consider taking a deductible and excluding yourself and
the members of your household from this coverage. However,
remember that even with a comprehensive health insurance plan,
you would not be provided with coverage for lost wages and
replacement services, unless your employer offers a wage
Under the reform legislation the list of permissible PIP
deductibles has been expanded to include, $4000 and $8000.
Even with a large deductible for you and members of your
household, guests in your automobile and pedestrians are still
Part 3: BODILY INJURY CAUSED BY AN UNINSURED AUTO protects you,
members of your household, and guests in your automobile
against losses caused by an uninsured automobile, or from a
hit-and-run accident, unless the household member or guest are
protected by their own or another auto insurance policy. In
addition, this coverage protects you and members of your
household as pedestrians against injuries caused by an
uninsured auto or a hit-and-run driver.
Compulsory uninsured automobile coverage requires a
minimum limit of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident.
Increasing this coverage makes good sense for most people,
especially for persons who travel outside of Massachusetts, as
compulsory auto insurance is not mandatory in all states.
Previously, consumers were required to buy
Underinsurance as part of the Uninsured Automobile coverage.
This year however, Underinsured coverage is no longer
automatically included in Part 3. If you wish to be protected
with Underinsured Automobile coverage, you will have to
purchase it separately under the optional coverage, Part 12.
Keep in mind that you can purchase Part 3 coverage with limits
that are lower than but not higher than the limits you purchase
for Part 5. It is recommended that you purchase this coverage
in limits equal to the limits you purchase under Part 5.
Part 4: DAMAGE TO SOMEONE ELSE'S PROPERTY pays for property
damage and for costs resulting from the loss of the use of
property damaged from an accident caused by you, a household
member or anyone using your auto with permission. This Part
never covers damage to your automobile or property.
The minimum amount required is $5000. However, you
should consider purchasing this insurance with higher limits.
Today's new car and repair prices being what they are, a limit
of $25,000 is a good choice for many people.
WHAT OTHER COVERAGES ARE AVAILABLE?
There are eight other coverages available to you in
addition to the compulsory insurance. You should be aware that
your insurance company may refuse to issue you some optional
coverages because of certain prior driving violations or
Part 5: OPTIONAL BODILY INJURY TO OTHERS allows you to extend
the protection you must purchase under Part 1, by offering
coverage above the $10,000/$20,000 limit for injuries caused by
you in Massachusetts, in other parts of the United States, and
Unlike the compulsory Bodily Injury insurance, Part 5
will pay for injuries to guests of your automobile and for
injuries to others caused by any person who is using your car
with your consent.
To protect your assets and future income, it makes good
sense to buy higher limits under this Part; $100,000 per person
and $300,000 per accident will meet most drivers needs. Such
additional coverage is valuable since, considering the rising
costs of medical and hospital care, court judgments can easily
Part 6: MEDICAL PAYMENTS covers medical expenses for injuries
resulting from any accident involving you, any household member
and any passenger, once the limits provided under Part 2,
Personal Injury Protection have been exhausted. It does not
cover lost wages. Drivers who have comprehensive health
insurance plans may not need the extra coverage provided under
You should, however, think about buying this Part if you
and your household members do not already have adequate health
insurance or if you want this protection for passengers in your
Part 7: COLLISION insurance pays for damage to your automobile
caused by a collision regardless of fault. The cost of
collision protection varies with the model and year of your
automobile, where it is garaged and the operator
classification. Because it pays for damages regardless of
fault, this Part is expensive to purchase.
Unfortunately, there is no good rule-of-thumb to use
when purchasing Collision coverage. If your automobile is
financed, your lender may require you to carry this Part on
your policy. However, if you own your automobile outright,
your decision to purchase Collision should depend on whether or
not you can afford to replace your automobile without help from
your insurance company.
A deductible is the portion of each claim you agree not
to be covered for. For example, if you purchase Collision with
the standard $500 deductible and you suffer a loss of $700, you
will collect $200 from your insurance company. If a loss of
less than $500 occurs, you are responsible for the entire
amount. Collision protection can be purchased at a much lower
price when you purchase a deductible higher than the standard
$500 deductible. Choose the larger deductible if you can
afford to pay a larger loss out of your own pocket. You also
have the option to purchase the more expensive $300
deductible. The choice is not an easy one, so take the time to
evaluate your financial circumstances when purchasing this and
any other available deductible.
Under the Automobile Insurance Act of 1988, your company
may require a $500 Collision or Limited Collision deductible if
you have had a major at-fault accident within the previous
WAIVER OF DEDUCTIBLE coverage may be purchased at a
higher premium if you opt to purchase Collision coverage. The
Waiver of Deductible allows any deductible you choose to be
ignored in cases of fault on the part of another identifiable
driver. The deductible would not be waived in a hit-and-run
accident, even if the unidentifiable party was completely at
You might choose to purchase the Waiver of Deductible
for the benefit it offers if you are involved in an accident
caused by an identifiable, insured driver. While many
policyholders are willing to pay the additional cost for the
Waiver of Deductible's convenience, others view the benefits as
too few to justify the extra premium.
NOTE: Your failure to list a household member as an operator
on your policy may have very serious consequences. Your
insurer will not pay for a Collision loss for an accident which
occurs while your auto is being operated by a household member
who is not listed as an operator on your policy. Payment is
withheld when the household member, if listed, would require
the payment of additional premium on your policy because the
household member would be classified as an inexperienced
operator or would require the payment of an Unsafe Driver Point
Surcharge on your policy under the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
Part 8: LIMITED COLLISION also pays for damages to your
automobile caused by a collision, although in limited
circumstances. Because this coverage is not as broad as Part
7, its cost is considerably less.
This coverage will not pay for one-car accidents,
accidents in which you are more than 50% at fault, or for
accidents where the owner or driver of the other vehicle
be identified. Limited Collision will pay for most other
accidents and offers the convenience of dealing with your own
If you are willing to pay for the damage you might cause
to your auto, or if the value of your auto does not justify
purchasing full Collision coverage, then Limited Collision or
no collision coverage is your best bet.
You may reduce or eliminate the $500 standard Limited
Collision deductible for an extra premium.
NOTE: Your failure to list a household member as an operator
on your policy may have very serious consequences. Your
insurer will not pay for a Limited Collision loss for an
accident which occurs while your auto is being operated by a
household member who is not listed as an operator on your
policy. Payment is withheld when the household member, if
listed, would require the payment of additional premium on your
policy because the household member would be classified as an
inexperienced operator or would require the payment of an
Unsafe Driver Point Surcharge on your policy under the Safe
Driver Insurance Plan.
Part 9: COMPREHENSIVE coverage will pay for losses which are
not caused by a collision, such as fire, theft, and vandalism
losses. In addition, this insurance will pay you up to $15 a
day for substitute transportation until your stolen auto is
recovered (up to a limit of $450).
Comprehensive coverage does not insure personal
belongings in your auto unless they have been made a permanent
part of your automobile. This means that clothing is never
covered, but a C.B. radio permanently installed in the opening
of the dash or console is.
The standard deductible for Comprehensive coverage is
$500, although you have the option to purchase a $300
deductible. As with the Collision coverage, buying back to
the lower deductible will raise your premium cost. Seriously
consider choosing a larger deductible than the standard one if
you can afford to pay a larger loss out of your own pocket.
You should also consider installing an anti-theft device and/or
a signal-activated vehicle recovery system. Anti-theft
equipment and recovery system discounts, which are discussed in
the Saving Money Section, range from 5% to 35%.
This year, as a result of the Automobile Insurance Act
of 1988, you have the option of purchasing a $100 deductible on
glass claims. If you take a deductible, you will reduce the
cost of your Comprehensive coverage by 8%, however if you have
a claim for a broken windshield or other glass damage, you will
have to pay for the first $100 of that damage.
Part 10: SUBSTITUTE TRANSPORTATION pays up to $15 a day for car
rental, taxicab fares and other transportation costs (up to a
limit of $450).
You should carefully consider whether you need this
coverage. Claims for loss of use caused by another driver are
generally payable under that driver's Damage To Someone Else's
Property coverage (Part 4). Comprehensive Coverage (Part 9)
provides reimbursement for loss of use resulting from theft.
Moreover, Substitute Transportation coverage does not pay under
all conditions. If your auto is being repaired or replaced
because of damages that would be covered under Collision
coverage (Part 7), you can collect under Part 10. There is no
coverage, however, if your auto is merely in the shop for
Please note that if you are under the legal age or have
a poor credit rating you may be unable to rent a vehicle.
However, you do remain eligible for the reimbursement of
Part 11: TOWING AND LABOR will pay up to $25 for towing and
labor charges each time your automobile breaks down. The cost
of replacement parts is not covered and labor is covered only
to get your auto going again at the place of breakdown.
If you belong to a motor club, you may already have
Towing and Labor coverage - so check your club's benefits
before purchasing Part 11.
Your insurance company may legally refuse to sell you
Towing and Labor coverage.
Part 12: BODILY INJURY CAUSED BY AN UNDERINSURED AUTO will pay
damages for bodily injury to people injured of killed as the
result of certain accidents caused by someone who does not have
enough insurance, up to the difference between the total amount
collected from the automobile bodily injury liability insurance
covering the owner and the operator of the auto and the limits
you purchased for this coverage.
Your company will pay damages to or for you, or any
household member, unless the household member has his or her
own Massachusetts auto policy or is covered by a Massachusetts
auto policy of a household member providing similar coverage
with higher limits, if you are injured as a pedestrian or while
occupying an auto you do not own. They will also pay damages
to or for anyone else occupying your auto unless that person
has his or her own Massachusetts auto policy or is covered by a
Massachusetts auto policy of any household member providing
Below are some examples of how this coverage works:
EXAMPLE 1 - You do not have to buy the Underinsured
Auto coverage. You are injured in an auto accident
caused by the other driver who is legally responsible
for your injuries. Your damages total $20,000. The
other driver's bodily liability limit is $10,000. You
can collect $10,000 from the other driver's insurance,
but you must sue the other driver to collect the other
$10,000. If the other driver has no assets, you could
suffer a loss of $10,000.
EXAMPLE 2 - You purchase Underinsured Auto limits of
$15,000 per person; $30,000 per accident. Your damages
are $20,000. The other driver's policy provides $15,000
of bodily injury liability insurance, which you collect
from his company. Since there is no difference between
the Underinsured Motorists Coverage limits you purchased
and the other driver's bodily injury liability limits,
you cannot recover the balance of the $5,000.
EXAMPLE 3 - You purchase Underinsured Auto coverage
limits of $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident.
Your damages are $30,000. The other driver's policy
provides $10,000 of bodily injury liability insurance,
which you collect from his company. You can only
collect an additional $10,000 from your company. This
is the difference between the amount collected from all
automobile bodily injury liability limits and your
Underinsured motorists limit of $20,000 for each person.
EXAMPLE 4 - You purchase Underinsured Auto coverage
limits of $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident.
Your damages are $20,000. The other driver's policy
provides $10,000 of Bodily Injury Liability insurance
which you collect from his company. Your Underinsured
Auto coverage will pay you $10,000 in full payment of
your outstanding damages. This is the difference
between the other driver's Bodily Injury limits and your
Underinsured Motorists Coverage limits.
Keep in mind that since all registered motor vehicles
must have the compulsory Bodily Injury limits of $10,000 per
person; $20,000 per accident, purchasing Underinsured Motorist
coverage limits of $10,000/$20,000 provides little or no
coverage. If you choose to purchase Underinsurance coverage,
you may buy limits that are less than but not higher than the
limits purchased under Part 5, however it is recommended that
you buy it in limits equal to the limits you purchase under
Getting the discounts you are entitled to, paying
attention to detail, and driving conscientiously can all work
to keep your insurance costs down. By following the
suggestions listed below, you will maximize the available
Be An Alert Shopper
Before choosing your coverages, limits and deductibles,
read the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy and the
Mandatory Endorsement carefully to be certain that you
understand the coverages and the new changes resulting from the
Automobile Insurance Act of 1988. Assess your driving habits
in order to determine the coverages and limits you need. When
filling out the application, make sure that you complete it
accurately in order for your policy to be properly rated.
Finally, when you receive your Coverage Selections Page, do not
file it away without checking to see that the coverages,
limits, deductibles, discounts and premium are correct.
Review Your Bill
You do not leave the store without a receipt - and you
should not buy auto insurance without an itemized bill!
First, look at your bill to find out whether any part of
the total cost is for service fees. Although some agents and
brokers charge nothing for the additional effort needed to fill
out various forms or to bring your license plates from the
Registry, others will charge you a fee for performing such
services. However, no agent or broker can charge service fees
in connection with issuing or renewing your automobile
insurance policy, nor are you legally bound to pay for any
other services your agent or broker performs without your
Your itemized bill should tell you whether you have been
enrolled in a motor club. Obviously, if you do not want to
join a motor club or if you are already a member of a different
motor club, you should not pay the membership dues. If you do
belong to a motor club, check to see if membership includes
benefits similar to the Towing/Labor and Substitute
Transportation coverages - there is no point in buying
Of course, the main thing your insurance bill will tell
you is how much you owe. According to state law, no company,
agent or broker can ask you to pay more than 30% of your
premium before you renew your coverage (although you may pay
more than 30% if you wish). However, if you have defaulted on
a premium payment during the previous twenty-four months, your
insurer can legally require payment of 100% of your premium.
Should you choose to pay less than your total bill, it
is likely that you will have to pay some kind of finance
charge. Choose your finance plan carefully. Commercial
lenders and insurance premium finance agencies charge up to 18%
interest per year on the unpaid balance. Insurance premium
finance agencies may also charge an additional $16 fee for
setting up the account.
For many policyholders, another way of making time
payments is to do business with an insurance company that will
bill you in installments and charge a flat fee for each
billing. These charges vary from company to company and
according to the number of installments you want to make. In
some instances the company's carrying charges will cost you
less than other financing arrangements.
Be particularly careful to answer those application
questions relating to the following five discounts, which can
cut your insurance costs considerably if you qualify for them.
* Low Mileage Discount - If you drive 5,000 or fewer
miles per year, you are eligible for the maximum 10% discount.
If you drive between 5,001 and 7,500 miles per year, you are
eligible for a 5% discount. The discount applies to all
coverages except Comprehensive, Substitute Transportation, and
Towing and Labor, and applies to the rate for each insured car
as otherwise determined by territory, driver class, vehicle
model year and symbol, prior to the application of SDIP
surcharges or credits.
* Senior Citizen Discount - Drivers 65 years or older
who are principal operators of their cars receive a 25%
reduction on all their auto coverages, provided there is no
inexperienced driver (one with less than six years of driving
experience) listed on their policies. Cars used for business
are not eligible. The 25% discount does not apply to Unsafe
Driver Point Surcharges.
* Public Transportation Discount - Choosing to take
public transportation instead of using your automobile can save
you 10% on your property damage liability and collision
coverages. The maximum discount is $75. To obtain this
discount, you must show evidence of purchase of 11 months of
commuter passes or tickets from a qualified transit system.
* Anti-Theft and Recovery System Discounts-
Policyholders who install certain kinds of anti-theft devices
are eligible for a 5%, 15%, or 20% discount on Comprehensive
coverages. Effective for 1989, the installation of a
signal-activated vehicle recovery system, in combination with
an approved anti-theft device, can qualify you for a savings
between 25%-35%. The size of the discount varies, depending on
the kind of anti-theft device, and whether it is combined with
a vehicle recovery system.
You should seriously consider buying and using some kind
of anti-theft device and/or vehicle recovery system. Before
you choose a particular brand or model, check with your agent,
broker or company representative about the discount. A quick
check before you buy can help you avoid an expensive
* Multi-Vehicle Discount - Individuals and married
couples who own more than one car and insure them for Collision
or Limited Collision coverage with the same company can get a
5% discount on these coverages. This discount is available
only to experienced drivers.
Inexperienced drivers can realize a 10% savings on three
of the four compulsory coverages and on optional liability and
collision coverages, if they complete an approved
driver-training course. The savings is calculated into the
rates for the particular driver classifications.
Finally, you can affect the cost of your policy by how
you and the other operators of your auto drive. You will
receive a Safe Driver Credit on your policy if you and the
other operators maintain good driving records. More detailed
information about the Safe Driver Insurance Plan is in Section
4 of this guide.
SAFE DRIVER INSURANCE PLAN
Safe and careful driving habits help to ensure the
safety of the vehicle, driver, occupants, and others. Good
driving habits will also save you money on your automobile
insurance premiums based on the driving records of the
operators listed on your policy. If you and the other drivers
listed on your policy have clean driving records, and depending
upon the length of time you and the other drivers have
maintained clean driving records, your premium will be reduced
by one of three Safe Driver Credits, up to a maximum of $120
for each vehicle.
If you or any other driver listed on your policy caused
an accident or violated any surchargeable motor vehicle traffic
law, your premium will increase due to the application of
Unsafe Driver Points.
Safe Driver Credits
The Safe Driver Insurance Plan for policy year 1989989
provides for an Excellent Driver Award 5-Year Credit, a 4-Year
Credit, and a 3-Year Credit. Credits are applied to a vehicle
on the basis of the driving record of the operator assigned to
the vehicle. Operators are assigned to vehicles in accordance
with the rules established in the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
A vehicle insured by your policy may be eligible for either an
Excellent Driver Award 5-Year Credit, a 4-Year Credit or a
3-Year Credit if: the listed driver assigned to the vehicle has
not had a surchargeable at-fault accident or motor vehicle
traffic law violation within the 5, 4, or 3 year period
immediately preceding the policy effective date; the listed
driver has a valid Massachusetts license and the vehicle is not
rated as principally operated by a driver with less than three
How to Check for a Credit
Safe Driver Credits are determined annually by the
Commissioner of Insurance. For 1989989, there are three Safe
Driver Credits. The maximum credit can be as much as $120
depending on the limits purchased under Damage To Someone
Else's Property (Part 4). If you wish to check your credit,
multiply the premium shown for the Damage to Someone Else's
Property coverage (Part 4), by a factor of:
* 65%, for a 5-Year Credit, up to a maximum of $120 or,
* 60%, for a 4-Year Credit, up to a maximum of $110 or,
* 50%, for a 3-Year Credit, up to a maximum of $90
Unsafe Driver Points
Your policy is subject to Unsafe Driver Points if you or
the other drivers listed on your policy:
* are more than 50% at fault in an accident and an
insurance company pays more than $200 under Damage To Someone
Else's Property (Part 4) or Collision coverage (Part 7) or,
* are convicted of violating certain Massachusetts motor
vehicle traffic laws or,
* are assigned to a driver alcohol education program.
Unsafe Driver Points are applied to a vehicle based upon
the driving record of the operator assigned to that vehicle.
AT-FAULT ACCIDENTS - If you are involved in an accident and you
file a Collision claim, or if another person files a claim
under Damage To Someone Else's Property, your insurance company
must determine who was more than 50% at fault. If your company
finds that you were at fault and pays a claim of more than
$200, it must send you a Surcharge Notice. The accident will
become part of your driving record for a period of five years
from the date of notice, unless:
* the company withdraws the notice or
* you appeal the notice to the Board of Appeal and that
Board determines that you were not more than 50% at fault in
It makes no difference whether the at-fault accident
occurred in the Commonwealth or out-of-state; the at-fault
accident will be added to the involved operator's driving
Accident surcharges must be appealed at the time you
receive the Surcharge Notice. Detailed instructions telling
how to and where to appeal are on the Surcharge Notice. The
Board of Appeal will hold the hearing and will notify you of
its decision. If you win your appeal, the Merit Rating Board
will remove the at-fault accident from your driving record.
If the Unsafe Driver Points for the accident are billed
on your policy while your appeal is pending, you must pay the
additional premium. Your policy will be re-rated by your
insurance company if you win the appeal.
MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC LAW VIOLATIONS - If you paid a fine or
were convicted of violating certain motor vehicle traffic laws,
or if you were assigned to an alcohol education program, the
court will notify the Merit Rating Board. The motor vehicle
traffic law violation will be added to your driving record and
will remain on your record for a period of five years from the
court judgment date unless you successfully appeal your
conviction to a higher court. A list of surchargeable motor
vehicle traffic law violations may be obtained from the Merit
COMPREHENSIVE CLAIMS - Under the Safe Driver Insurance Plan,
your private passenger automobile insurance policy may also be
subject to surcharge if you submit four or more Comprehensive
claims on or after January 1989, 1989984, totaling $2,000 or
more. Your insurance company notifies the Merit Rating Board
when a Comprehensive claim has been paid. Comprehensive claims
are added to the policyholder's driving record.
ASSIGNMENT OF UNSAFE DRIVER POINTS AND SAFE DRIVER CREDITS
The number of Unsafe Driver Points assigned to an
operator is determined by the type of incident. There are four
types: Major At-Fault Accident, Minor At-Fault Accident, Major
Traffic Law Violation, and Minor Traffic Law Violation. To
find the applicable number of points, see the Unsafe Driver
Point Table for the appropriate incident.
Unsafe Driver Points are not assigned to a non-criminal
minor traffic law violation if it is the first moving traffic
law violation in the operator's five-year Experience Period.
The violation is entered onto the individual's driving record
and will result in the denial of a credit, but no Unsafe Driver
Points will be assigned.
Operators are assigned to the vehicles on your policy
using the listed operator with the highest number of Unsafe
Driver Points first. The remaining operators are assigned to
the remaining vehicles using the operator with the next highest
number of Unsafe Driver Points. The Unsafe Driver Points of a
particular operator cannot be billed more than once on a
policy. An operator with a 3-Year Credit will be assigned to a
vehicle before an operator with a 4-Year Credit or an Excellent
Driver Award. An operator with a 4-Year Credit will be
assigned to a vehicle before an operator with an Excellent
If there are more vehicles than operators, the excess
vehicles will be assigned zero Unsafe Driver points if no
operator is credit eligible; excess vehicles will be assigned
an Excellent Driver Award if one of the operators is eligible
for an Excellent Driver Award; excess vehicles will be assigned
a 4-Year Credit if one operator is eligible for a 4-Year Credit
and no operator is eligible for an Excellent Driver Award;
excess vehicles will be assigned a 3-Year Credit if one
operator is eligible for a 3-Year Credit and no operator is
eligible for a 4-year Credit or an Excellent Driver Award.
Experience Period of a Policy
The Experience Period for a policy with an effective
date in 1989989 is the 5-year period immediately preceding
the effective date of the policy. All incidents remain on
your driving record for five years from the surcharge date.
However, no Unsafe Driver Points are billed for an incident
after the third year.
The surcharge date for an at-fault accident is the date
of notice as entered on the surcharge notice by your insurance
company. The surcharge date for a motor vehicle traffic law
violation is the date the court entered the judgement.
To determine the Experience Period of your 1989 policy,
go back five years from your policy effective date. Any
incident with a surcharge date within three years of the policy
effective date may result in increased premium and a Safe
Driver Credit will be denied.
As a further incentive to promote good driving habits,
one point for each incident on your record during the three
years, immediately preceding the effective date of your policy
will be subtracted for each complete 12-month period of clean
driving between the surcharge date and your policy's effective
date. Exception: Major Moving Traffic Violations do not age
within the first three years.
Points for incidents in the five-year period immediately
preceding the policy effective date can never age below zero.
If incidents age to zero, no Unsafe Driver Points are
TABLE OF VALUES FOR UNSAFE DRIVER POINTS
The Commissioner of Insurance establishes the value of
Unsafe Driver Points each year. For 19898, the following table
POINTS PREMIUM INCREASE
1 $ 100
2 $ 150
3 $ 250
4 $ 350
5 $ 500
6 $ 650
7 $ 750
8 $ 850
9 $ 1100
Statement of Unsafe Driver Points
Your insurance company is required to send you a
Statement of Unsafe Driver Points if you or any operator listed
on your policy are billed Unsafe Driver Points or are denied an
Excellent Driver Award 5-Year Credit.
Refusal to Pay
If you refuse to pay your premium increase due to the
application of Unsafe Driver Points, your insurance company
will cancel your policy after sending you the Notice of
Cancellation required by law.
Record Errors or Billing Problems
If you believe a billing is erroneous, you should first
contact your insurance broker or agent and/or your company.
You will find it helpful if you have available your Coverage
Selections Page, Statement of Unsafe Driver Points (if
applicable) and copies of your billings.
If you have any questions concerning an appeal of a
Surcharge Notice, contact the Board of Appeal at (617)
727-7189, extension #223.
If you have any questions concerning the accuracy of
your record as shown on the Statement of Unsafe Driver Points,
call or write the Merit Rating Board's Insurance Company
Services Section, 100 Nashua Street, 6th floor, Boston, MA
02114, (619897) 727-7017. The Board will promptly investigate
matter. You must pay a billed premium while the matter is
under investigation. If an error is discovered, it will be
corrected and all parties will be notified in writing.
Obtaining a Copy of Your Driving Record
You may obtain a copy of your driving record from the
Merit Rating Board. This detailed record will show all of your
active surchargeable incidents on file at the Merit Rating
Board. You must complete an Operator Request for Detailed
Surcharge Information form and bring or mail it to the Merit
Rating Board. The cost for this detailed record is $3.00,
payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the form of a
personal check or money order.
No fee is required to inspect your computer record at
the Merit Rating Board's office. However, a prior appointment
must be made with the Board's Insurance Company Services
Information to Remember
l. Unsafe Driver Points for a
particular incident may not be
billed on more than one policy
in effect at the same time.
2. Unsafe Driver Points are
assigned on a per-operator
per-vehicle basis. If a policy
has two surcharged operators and
only one vehicle, the points of
only the operator with the
highest point total are computed.
3. Your driving record cannot be
used to deny a credit on more
than one vehicle unless you are
the operator who has the least
number of Unsafe Driver Points.
4. All incidents remain on your
driving record for five years
from the surcharge date.
However, no Unsafe Driver Points
are billed for an incident after
the third year.
The Division would like to thank the Merit Rating Board for its
preparation of this section of the guide.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A COMPLAINT?
If you believe that your insurance company has acted
improperly in issuing, renewing or cancelling your automobile
policy, or has refused to pay all or part of a fair claim, or
your agent or broker or company has misrepresented you, you
have the right to file a complaint and seek a resolution.
The problem may be due to a simple error, and may be
corrected with an inquiry over the telephone. First, contact
your agent or broker or the customer representative at your
insurance company. Make sure you have all necessary
information on hand, such as the policy or account number, a
clear and concise description of the problem and any other
important information. When making a complaint by telephone,
keep a written record of:
* The date and time of the call
* The name(s) of the person(s) you speak to
* What is discussed
If you do not receive a prompt, satisfactory response,
write a letter to the company briefly explaining your problem
and what you expect done to correct it. It may be a good idea
to send the letter by registered mail to guarantee that the
company receives it.
If you still feel you have been treated unfairly, send a
complaint letter to the Division of Insurance, and we will
assist you in resolving your problem. The Division of
Insurance has Consumer Service offices located at:
280 Friend Street 436 Dwight Street, Rm. 438
Boston, MA 02114 Springfield, MA 01103
(617) 727-3333 (413) 784-1190
Remember when writing a letter to either your company or
the Division of Insurance, you should include:
* A brief description of the problem;
* What resolution you believe is proper;
* Your name, address, and phone number;
* The agent, broker or insurance company's name;
* Policy number; and
Furthermore, make sure you keep a copy of the letter and
any other documents you include with the letter, for your own
records. Keep all letters, receipts, bills and policies
together for easy reference.
The Division will make every effort to ensure that your
valid complaint is resolved in a satisfactory manner, by
investigating the problem, clarifying misunderstandings and
making sure you get clear responses to your questions. We
cannot however, guarantee a favorable action on your complaint
if it is not supported by facts or the law, nor can we provide
legal services that may be required to settle a more