Massachusetts Minimum Coverage Law

Drivers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts bear certain responsibilities. These include duties to abide by all state traffic laws, and keeping a properly registered and maintained vehicle. Motorists are also required to keep a current auto insurance policy that adheres to the Massachusetts minimum coverage statutes.

Car insurance is one of those expenses that seem like a waste of money – until you need it.

At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston traffic accident attorneys, we understand that these minimum coverage laws work to protect those involved in accidents from losses sustained therein, as well as personal liability that could easily bankrupt an individual.

Minimum coverage settings are established by the state, and are based on factors that may impact the crash rate, such as:

  • Population (more people tends to mean more accidents)
  • Cost of living
  • Harsh or extreme weather conditions

The concept of mandated auto insurance coverage isn’t a new one. In fact, Massachusetts was the very first state to require car liability insurance back in 1925.

Although there are many different kinds of auto insurance coverage available, the type and amount required by the state is as follows:

  • Bodily Injury to Others - $20,000 for each person, $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection - $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Property Damage to Another Person’s Property - $5,000
  • Bodily Injury Caused by Uninsured Auto - $20,000 for each person, $40,000 per accident

These are baseline amounts required by state law.

There is, however, a strong argument to be made for obtaining higher levels of insurance. Car accidents, especially serious ones, can be extremely costly. Beyond just medical bills, one must consider the time they will have to take off work and how the pain may affect their day-to-day living. That’s why additional coverage is generally recommended.

Most people obtain additional coverage in the form of:

  • Collision Auto Insurance. This covers damages to your vehicle in the event of a crash.
  • Comprehensive Auto Insurance. This offers protection from perils that aren’t necessarily related to a crash. This could include things like storms, falling objects, civil disturbances and theft.
  • Gap Insurance. Provides the difference between what your property damage insurance covers and the amount owed on the vehicle, in the event you don’t own the car and it’s totaled.
  • Rental Car Insurance. Non-owner liability coverage can provide additional protection to those who borrow or rent a vehicle. (This may also be available through one’s homeowner or renter’s insurance policy.)
  • Umbrella Insurance. Provides liability protection to an at-fault driver if another person’s injuries are far in excess of one’s regular policy limits.

It’s important to point out that some auto policies require insureds to list all licensed drivers living in the household who are related by blood, marriage or adoption – including anyone who already has their own policy. Policy holders should also list anyone who drives the vehicle occasionally (known as “customary operators). Occasional drivers who have their own insurance policy can usually be listed as “deferred operators” for no extra cost.

In some cases, failure to list customary operators or licensed household members can be grounds for denying a claim – even if the policy holder was the one driving the car at the time of the accident. That’s why it’s critical to carefully review your policy and requirements when first signing the contract.

Certain household members may be excluded if they do not drive the vehicle, but policyholders have to fill out a special exclusion form.

No-Fault Car Insurance

Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car insurance. What this means is if you are involved in a car accident, the first place you will turn for recovery of damages is your own insurance company. This is true regardless of fault.

This is where that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits would come in. PIP benefit options allow insureds to cover either only the named policy holders or all licensed drivers in the household. If you are at-fault for the crash, you should have a minimum $8,000 in coverage for your own medical bills. These will cover:

  • Reasonable and necessary medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost earnings (up to 75 percent of average weekly wage, based on previous one year of work prior to the crash)
  • Ordinary and necessary household services (i.e., snow shoveling, house cleaning, etc.)

If one has health insurance, PIP benefits will only cover $2,000 toward your medical bills. Any uninsured balance after submission to the health insurance provider would be covered by PIP, up to policy limits.

But of course, $8,000 isn’t a lot of money, which is why it’s wise to obtain a higher amount of coverage.

If you suffer a serious injury or the cost of your losses exceeds $2,000 and you were not at-fault, you could then pursue damages from the other driver’s insurance company for all of the above, plus pain and suffering. These would be paid out through that driver’s liability insurance and property damage insurance policies.

If that amount still were not enough to cover your losses or if the other driver was not insured at all, you could then turn back to your own auto insurance company to collect uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) to cover the difference.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL

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