An operator may incur a surcharge for any one of these reasons:
- An operator is “at fault” for an accident.
- An operator is found guilty or responsible for a traffic law offense.
- An operator is assigned to a driver alcohol education program, or a controlled substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation program.
- An operator has an out-of-state incident that the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) classifies as a surchargeable incident in Massachusetts.
An accident is defined as a surchargeable at-fault accident if:
- the involved operator is more than 50 percent at fault as determined by the standards of fault.
- the vehicle is a private passenger automobile
- the accident involves a claim payment of more than $1000, in excess of any deductible
- the claim payment is for damage to someone else's property, collision, or limited collision coverages for a vehicle subject to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan. Bodily injury to others liability claims may be subject to surcharge.
Your insurance company will notify you and the Merit Rating Board (MRB) if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault for causing an accident. The MRB will then add the at-fault accident to your driving record. An increase to your auto insurance premium as a result of the accident depends on the terms of your insurer's merit rating plan. A merit rating plan is used by an insurance company to adjust an auto insurance premium based on the operator's driving record. Contact your insurance company or agent to find out about their merit rating plan.
Accidents outside of Massachusetts may be subject to surcharge.
- If your Massachusetts insured private passenger automobile is involved in an accident outside of Massachusetts, it will be subject to surcharge if the accident involves a claim payment of more than $1000 under Damage To Someone Else's Property, Collision, Limited Collision, or Bodily Injury To Others, and if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault.
- If you were involved in an at-fault accident when you resided outside of Massachusetts, it may be subject to surcharge. Massachusetts auto insurers may report an accident from your out-of-state driving record to the MRB if it can be classified as an at-fault accident as defined in the Massachusetts Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
The standards of fault
These are used to determine an at-fault accident.
Insurance companies are required to use the Massachusetts standards of fault to determine if the involved operator is more than 50 percent at fault in an accident.
- The determination of fault is made by the insurance company that makes the claim payment.
- The standards of fault are established by 211 CMR 74.00 in accordance with Chapter 175, Section 113P of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Bodily injury to others claims
These are subject to surcharge.
A bodily injury to others liability claim resulting from an at-fault accident will be reported to the Merit Rating Board if:
- the loss amount in excess of any deductible exceeds $1000, and
- there is neither a surchargeable damage to someone else's property liability claim, nor a surchargeable collision claim as a result of the same at-fault accident
What Is the difference between a minor and major at-fault accident?
The amount of the claim payment (in excess of any applicable deductible) determines if the at-fault accident is a minor or major at-fault accident.
- A minor at-fault accident results in a claim payment of more than $1000 and up to and including $5000 for damage to someone else's property, collision, limited collision, or bodily injury to others.
- A major at-fault accident results in a claim payment of more than $5000 for damage to someone else's property, collision, limited collision, or bodily injury to others.
Traffic law offenses
A citation received for a traffic law offense is surchargeable if the offense is included in the list of surchargeable traffic law offenses in Appendix A of the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) regulation and if the cited operator:
- Pays the fine assessed
- Fails to pay the fine assessed
- Is found guilty or responsible by the court, or
- Is assigned by the court to a driver alcohol education program or a controlled substance abuse treatment/rehabilitation program
Major and minor traffic law offenses
Traffic law offenses are added to an operator's driving history and are used in calculating an operator's Safe Driver Insurance Plan rating. The number of surcharge points assigned to traffic law offenses is determined by the incident classification defined in the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
- Minor traffic law violation (2 points) includes civil violations, such as speeding or failing to obey traffic lights, and minor criminal violations, such as driving as an unlicensed operator
- Major traffic law violation (5 points) includes criminal violations, such as operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol and drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, or refusing to stop for a police officer
For a full list of major and minor traffic law offenses, refer to Appendix A of the SDIP regulation.
The RMV may use traffic law offenses to:
- Suspend/revoke an operator's driver's license or vehicle registration
- Restrict an out-of-state licensed operator's right to drive in Massachusetts
Additional Resources for Traffic law offenses
Out-of-state surchargeable incidents
When an operator applies for an insurance policy in Massachusetts, the insurance company may request the operator's out-of-state driving record. The insurance company will forward the operator's prior out-of-state driving record to the Merit Rating Board. The information in the operator's prior record is used along with the Massachusetts driving history to determine surcharges and credits under either the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) or the insurer's merit rating plan.
- If the operator was involved in an accident outside of Massachusetts, he/she may be subject to surcharge if the insurer classifies the accident as one of the two categories of at fault accidents defined in SDIP. Refer to the at-fault accidents section above for more information.
- If the operator incurs a traffic law offense out-of-state, the offense may be subject to surcharge. Refer to the traffic law offenses section above for more information.