Most teens cannot wait to get their license. But it's important to remember that while you may be excited about this milestone, driving is a serious responsibility. An accident could include damage to cars and other property, as well as injuries to you, your passengers and others.
Insurance is Mandatory
Massachusetts law prohibits you from driving without insurance. You can be covered by your parents' policy or your can purchase your own.
Being required to carry insurance before driving not only protects you, it protects everyone else on the road. Consumers are required to carry a certain minimum level of liability insurance before getting behind the wheel, but there is always a chance that those minimum levels won't be enough to cover you in a real world accident.
If you obtain a driver's license, you or your parents must notify your insurance company within 60 days of that date. All licensed household members and any other licensed person who will customarily operate your vehicle must be listed on the insurance policy.
What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?
There are mandatory coverages and optional or extra levels that you can buy for added protection.
|Minimum Coverage||Optional Coverage|
Pays for injuries to other people like pedestrians or passengers in another car, but it only covers $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.
Pays for damage to someone else's car or property - such as a fence or building, but the minimum coverage is only $5,000.
Pays for up to $8,000 in medical expenses for you and anyone else riding in your car, regardless of who caused the accident.
Pays for injuries to your or your passengers if you are hurt by someone who does not have auto insurance or a hit & run driver.
Bodily Injury and Property Damage
You can buy higher coverage limits for these sections above the minimum levels.
Pays for damage to my car caused by things such as theft or from a crack in my windshield - anything but a car accident.
Pays for damage to your car caused by an accident, such as backing into the garage.
How Much Does Insurance Cost?
Insurance companies set the price - or premium - for your auto insurance using several factors, such as your years of driving experience; your accident and violation history; and, the location where your car is usually garaged or parked. Most people buy insurance with a deductible of say $500 or $1000 in order to save money. This means the insurance kicks in for any damage that costs more than the deductible. There are plenty of other features you can add to your policy. Generally, your insurance costs can double if you add all these options to your insurance.
If you purchase collision or comprehensive coverage, the age and cost of the car is also a factor in determining your premium.
Until you get enough years of driving experience under your belt, your insurance cost will be fairly high because inexperienced drivers get into more accidents than experienced drivers.
Be aware that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles keeps records of your accidents and driving tickets and insurance companies can significantly increase your premium for any new ones added to your record.
Tips for lowering your premium:
You may be able to get a discount on your policy if you complete an approved driver training course, so you should complete one as soon as possible.
Many insurers give students a discount for maintaining an overall B average or better.
You may want to consider delaying owning your own car, if possible. Borrowing your parent's car instead of owning your own gives you the opportunity to gain experience, and reduces the cost of your insurance considerably. Have your parents begin getting quotes at least six weeks before you'll be added to their auto insurance policy. Check not only with your parent's current carrier, but compare quotes, service and stability with other agents and companies. If you have your own car and you do not qualify for a good student or other discounts, compare the cost of a separate auto policy for you.
If you are planning to buy a car, avoid high-performance or sporty models because these cars are more expensive to repair and insurance will cost you more. Consider the cost of insurance before you make that down payment.
Junior Operator Restriction
Studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have shown that one passenger doubles the risk of a crash among teen drivers, two passengers triples the risk, and three or more passengers increase the risk by more than six. Massachusetts law states that for the first six months with a license, new drivers under 18 may not drive a car with any passenger under 18 unless the new driver is accompanied by a person who is 21 who:
- Has at least one year of driving experience
- Holds a valid driver's license
- Sits in the seat beside the driver
There is an exception to the law for immediate family members so that you can drive with your siblings.