Massachusetts Car Insurance Laws

Auto insurance requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law states that all drivers must carry a minimum amount of car insurance coverage before getting behind the wheel. Proof of insurance must be carried at all times while driving and must be shown to law enforcement officials when requested. Find below info on the car insurance limits required in Massachusetts as of 2020, as well as breakdowns of how each coverage works.

 

Minimum Liability Coverage: 20/40/5
Uninsured Motorist (UM)Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • $20,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $40,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident
  • Bodily Injury $20,000 per person
  • Bodily Injury $40,000 per accident

 

  • $8,000 per person

For those leasing or financing a vehicle, your leasing company or lienholder could require that you carry physical damage coverage — sometimes known as “full coverage” — in order to protect their investment.

 

Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car insurance

Put simply, a no-fault insurance laws system requires drivers to carry their own protection. When an accident happens, no matter who is at fault, a driver's own insurance foots the bill for their injuries. This is meant to ease the strain on the court system by preventing extraneous lawsuits. It also guarantees drivers will receive immediate medical treatment in the event of an accident without having to wait for the at-fault party’s insurance to pay.

 

What is personal injury protection (PIP)?

Personal injury protection covers medical costs for you and your passengers in the event of an accident. This coverage pays out for your injuries regardless of fault. PIP covers medical expenses related to hospital stays, rehabilitation, and even work loss resulting from an accident. Massachusetts requires a minimum PIP coverage limit of $8,000 per person.

 

What is uninsured motorist coverage and how much is needed in Massachusetts? 

Unfortunately, not all drivers have insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) steps in to offer added protection for your injuries if the at-fault party has no insurance coverage and cannot pay for your medical expenses. In Massachusetts, drivers are required to carry at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage. 

 

Liability auto insurance coverage in Massachusetts

Liability coverage pays for damages that you cause. It is split into two distinct types of coverage: bodily injury and property damage. The property damage portion of this coverage goes toward covering costs of damage you cause to the personal belongings of others. Bodily injury covers injury expenses to those you may have harmed in an at-fault accident. This coverage is further split into per person and per accident limits, discussed below. 

 

What are state-mandated car insurance limits?

Nearly every state requires some form of car insurance in order to drive legally. The minimum amount required is usually referred to as the limit, as it is the most that an insurance company will pay out for that specific coverage type. In almost all cases, these limits can be increased for a relatively small additional premium, which is highly recommended.

Liability coverage limits are typically written out with three numbers: 20/40/5. Each number corresponds to a different coverage type, with the first two covering bodily injury per person and per accident, respectively. The final number is the property damage per accident portion.

  • Per-person limits show the total amount that your car insurance company is willing to pay for a single person’s injury.
  • Per-accident comes into play when you injure more than one person in an accident. This is the total amount that your insurance company will pay out for all injuries.
  • Property damage per accident is the limit of what your insurer will pay for any property damage you cause in a single collision.

 

Do Massachusetts’ required minimums provide enough coverage?

Massachusetts requires more coverage types than many states, but that doesn’t automatically mean that meeting the bare minimum requirements will ensure that you are properly insured. In almost all cases, these limits can be raised for an additional premium, which is a smart idea to further protect you and your assets.

Looking at liability insurance, it’s worth noting that the Massachusetts limits are quite low. Of course, Massachusetts requires PIP coverage so some bodily injury expenses could be covered. However, if you cause serious injuries to one or more parties, expenses could very quickly exhaust PIP limits as well as your bodily injury liability.

Furthermore, the property damage liability required by Massachusetts is among the lowest in the nation. At a mere $5,000, this is very unlikely to cover damages for even a minor accident, especially when you consider that the average cost of a new car is over five times that amount. As such, it’s highly recommended that you increase your limits to the highest level that you can reasonably afford.

 

Massachusetts' penalties for driving without proof of insurance

Massachusetts law states that all drivers must maintain a minimum amount of insurance coverage. If found driving without insurance in place, you can expect the following penalties to apply:

Penalties for driving without proof of insurance in MA
  • A minimum fine of $500 and up to $5,000
  • A requirement to pay an amount equal to a full year’s insurance premium at the highest market rate
  • Possible jail time up to one year
  • Possible suspension of your license for up to 60 days

 

Optional car insurance coverage in Massachusetts

Other than the mandatory coverages required by the state of Massachusetts, many carriers will offer the following types of coverage. 

  • Comprehensive: This coverage protects your vehicle against theft or physical damage other than collisions. It often covers weather events such as hail and falling trees.
  • Collision: As the name would imply, this coverage pays for damages that are caused after colliding with another vehicle or a stationary object. The one exception is that it doesn’t cover collisions with animals, as this is covered by comprehensive coverage. This coverage pays regardless of who is at fault.
  • Limited Collision: As opposed to standard collision — which pays for your damages regardless of fault — limited collision only pays out if you are found to be less than 50% at fault.
  • Loan/Lease Payoff: If you total a car that is financed, this coverage pays the difference between the actual cash value — the value of your car after depreciation — and what you owe on the loan. It is alternatively known as “gap coverage.”
  • Medical Payments: This coverage steps in to pay for injuries sustained by you or those in your vehicle.
  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If your car is unable to be driven due to damages or other covered losses, this coverage pays for a rental car until your vehicle is again driveable. Limits vary by carrier and by the plan.
  • Roadside Assistance: This coverage comes into play when you suffer a breakdown. Coverage varies by carrier, but you’ll typically find that it covers flat tire fixes, towing, and battery jumps.
  • Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury: While Massachusetts law only requires uninsured motorist coverage, drivers who don’t carry enough coverage can be just as problematic. Underinsured coverage protects you when you suffer losses at the hands of a driver who doesn’t carry liability limits high enough to cover damages or bodily injury.

 

Why adhering to Massachusetts’s car insurance requirements is important

On top of facing legal penalties, keeping at least the required amount for Massachusetts car insurance can help protect you and your personal assets. If you feel that your current auto coverage is lacking, it’s time to start looking around for a new policy that offers the protection you need. The best way to do this is to get free insurance quotes. The Zebra allows you to compare prices and coverage options side by side so that you can find the best car insurance for your specific needs.

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Ross Martin LinkedIn

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross is responsible for researching and writing about all matters related to auto and home insurance. He has a background in writing and education, as well as a masters degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been quoted by Kin Insurance, Safety.com, and autoinsuranceEZ.com.