Now that competition has arrived in Massachusetts, you can shop for the best automobile insurance rates available. The Division of Insurance encourages you to shop aggressively for the best rates for the products that fit your needs. Premium calculations vary by company depending on the types of traffic violations, accidents, and other criteria they consider. Even if you have recently been involved in an accident or received a traffic ticket, it still pays to shop because some companies may judge some types of incidents differently..
You cannot be denied automobile insurance for unfairly discriminatory reasons
Massachusetts insurers may not deny you automobile insurance based on your gender, race, creed, national origin, marital status, religion, age, occupation, income, principal place of garaging your car, education or homeownership.
You cannot be denied automobile insurance based on your credit history
Companies may not deny you automobile insurance based on any credit information contained in a consumer report that is obtained from a credit reporting agency.
You have the right to know the basis for a company's denial of your application for insurance
Insurance companies can refuse to offer you coverage based on non-discriminatory grounds, but they must identify the reasons for their denial. If you believe an insurer's refusal is unlawful, you should file a written complaint to the Division of Insurance.
You have the right to coverage even if an insurer declines to give you a policy
If you cannot find an insurance company willing to issue a policy, you may obtain coverage through the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (MAIP). An insurance agent can help you apply for coverage through the MAIP. The MAIP will assign you to an insurance company that will provide insurance to you for up to three years.
You have the right to select certain insurance policy periods
The majority of automobile insurance companies offer policies for one-year periods. Some insurance companies also offer policies for six-month periods, or for periods up to two years. You can take advantage of these options if they are offered to you. However, every insurance company that agrees to offer you a policy must provide a policy with a one-year term if you ask for it. When you compare premium quotes from different companies, be sure to compare policy periods that are identical.
You have the right to have coverage under your automobile insurance policy regardless of who is driving your car provided you gave your
consent to the driver
In most cases, your policy covers any accident involving your car even when it is driven by someone else with your permission. Your policy will not cover bodily injuries or property damage resulting from an accident when someone drives your car without your consent. If your car is stolen, comprehensive coverage will pay to repair any damage to your car if recovered, or its actual cash value at the time it was stolen. If someone else regularly uses your car, they must be listed on your policy.
You have the right to travel and have your coverage follow you
Your policy's bodily injury protection (part 1) only applies to accidents that occur in Massachusetts. In order to have bodily injury coverage outside of Massachusetts, you must purchase the optional part 5. Part 5 coverage - including bodily injury coverage - follows you everywhere in the U.S. and Canada.
You have the right to an explanation of how your driving history record affects your premium
All companies use driving history when calculating premiums. The Division of Insurance's regulation does not permit companies to calculate a premium based on an accident or traffic violation that is more than six years old.
You have the right to cancel your policy at any time
You can shop for a cheaper or different automobile insurance policy at any time - not just when your policy is up for renewal. If you find a better price or a company that offers additional coverages that you wish to purchase, you can cancel your old policy and seek a refund of your unused premium. Be aware that if you cancel a policy before it expires, your prior company may charge you a penalty.
You have the right to change your coverages and policy limits at any time
You have the right to change your coverages and policy limits at any time, even if your policy is not up for renewal. If you select lower policy limits or cancel non-mandatory coverages, you have a right to a refund of your unused premium.
You have the right to the prompt and fair handling of claims
You may ask about any payments made to others by your company and charged to your policy. If you file a claim with your company, it should be handled promptly and fairly. If your claim is denied, the company must provide you with a written explanation for the denial.
If you are in an accident and your insurance company finds that you are "at fault," you have a right to an appeal before the Board of Appeals
Your insurance company must notify you that it has made a decision that you were more than 50% "at fault" in an automobile accident. 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.
You have the right to a notice of cancellation
An insurance company may cancel your policy before its expiration date under very limited circumstances. The company must give you at least 20 days written notice before canceling your policy. The notice must specify the reason for the cancellation. If you receive a cancellation notice for non-payment of premium, you have until the date that the cancellation is to take effect in which to pay the premium and avoid cancellation.
You have the right to appeal a cancellation of insurance
If an automobile insurance company cancels your insurance, you can file an appeal with the Board of Appeals. You should start shopping for insurance coverage from another insurance company immediately, even if you have not had your appeal hearing, so that you are not left without insurance coverage. You should never drive your car without insurance.
You have the right to a notice of non-renewal
An insurance company can decline to renew your coverage for several different reasons. The company must issue a non-renewal notice directly to you or to your agent at least 45 days prior to the expiration of your policy. The notice must specify the insurance company's reason for non-renewing your policy.
You have the right to keep private the personal information you give to your agent and
Insurance companies and agents are required by law to have procedures in place that protect the privacy of your information. Your insurance company must provide you with a notice of these procedures. Also, insurance companies and agents are required by law to protect your personal information from identity theft, and provide you with specific instructions should a security breach occur.
You have the right to file a complaint with the Division of Insurance
We are here for you. The Division of Insurance is always available to help you with questions or complaints about all types of insurance policies, insurance companies and agents. You can talk to a consumer service representative by calling the Division's consumer hotline at 617-521-7794.