Driving Safely Can Reduce Your Premium
Now that competition has arrived in Massachusetts, each company will calculate premiums differently. Your driving record will always be a significant factor in determining how much you will pay. Driving safely and maintaining a clean driving record will almost certainly reduce your automobile insurance premium regardless of what company you choose.
What is a Merit Rating Plan?
Under the new competitive market system, companies are free to create their own rules - known as Merit Rating Plans - to determine how your driving record will affect your premium. These plans lower your premium based on years of incident-free driving, or raise your premium based on
at-fault accidents and traffic violations.
An insurance company's Merit Rating Plan shall not:
- Use any at-fault accident or traffic violation that is greater than 6 years old from the policy effective date, or
- Increase premium for at-fault accidents or traffic violations for more than 5 years.
For more information on individual insurance company Merit Rating Plans, contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly.
Appealing At-Fault Accidents on Your Record
Insurers are required to determine if a driver is more than 50% at fault for an accident by applying specific standards of fault. These standards are common accident types under which you are presumed to be at fault. For example, drivers are presumed to be more than 50% at fault when operating a vehicle that collides with the rear section of another vehicle.
If your company determines that you are at fault for an accident, it will send you a Surcharge Notice. This notice includes instructions for appealing the surcharge to the Board of Appeals at the Division of Insurance.
If you receive a Surcharge Notice naming the wrong operator, call your insurance company. Your insurer will rescind the incorrect notice and reissue the notice to the correct operator.
If you believe that you were not more than 50% responsible for causing the accident, follow the instructions on the Surcharge Notice to appeal the surcharge to the Board of Appeals. There is a $50 fee to file this appeal. You must file your appeal within 30 days from receiving your Surcharge Notice; otherwise, you may lose your right to appeal.
If a surcharge is applied to your auto insurance premium, you must pay the additional premium while your appeal is pending or your policy will be cancelled. If you win your appeal, you will receive a refund or credit from your insurer for any increased premium you paid as a result of the surcharge. For specific details about the at-fault accident appeal process, contact the Division of Insurance Board of Appeals at 617-521-7478 or visit our website at www.mass.gov/doi.
Appealing Traffic Violations
If you receive a traffic ticket - known as a civil traffic citation - that increases your premium, you can challenge the ticket in court. The rules for contesting the ticket will be found on the back of the ticket. Typically, you will have a hearing before a clerk-magistrate or judge. If the court finds in your favor, you will not be surcharged for the violation. For more information on appealing civil traffic citations, please visit the Merit Rating Board's website at www.mass.gov/mrb.
Merit Rating Board
The Merit Rating Board (MRB) is a section within the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) - RMV Division. The MRB maintains operator driving records consisting of traffic law violations, at-fault and comprehensive insurance claim records and out-of-state records. The MRB reports this information to Massachusetts auto insurance companies for application of the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) or a merit rating plan.
You can learn more about the MRB by visiting their website at www.mass.gov/mrb or you can call the customer service department at 617-351-4400.
Obtaining a Copy of Your Driving Record
If you need a copy of your driving record, you may obtain one by Internet, mail, telephone, or in person. An unattested driving record can be obtained on-line for a $6.00 fee, or a "True and Attested" driving record can be mailed to you at the address on file with RMV records for a $20.00 fee. Please go to www.mass.gov/rmv<http://www.mass.gov/rmv> for more information about obtaining a copy of your driving record. Or you can send a written request that includes your name, date of birth, license number, Massachusetts address, and a $20.00 check or money order, made payable to MassDOT (Do Not Mail Cash) to:
Attn: Driving Records
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Court Records Department
PO Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5896
Please note, if you currently reside out-of-state, indicate in your request where you would like your driving record mailed.