Auto Insurance in Massachusetts
Auto Insurance in Massachusetts
Insurance coverage is a must if you want to drive a car in Massachusetts. At a minimum, you are required by law to have liability coverage and personal injury protection. The least amount of coverage you are responsible for is:
- Bodily injury liability: $20,000 for one person / $40,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $5,000
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury: $20,000 for one person / $40,000 per accident
- Personal injury protection (for named policyholders only or household): $8,000
You have the choice to add collision and comprehensive for more coverage. Collision covers crash-related damage to your vehicle regardless of fault. Comprehensive covers any vehicle damage unrelated to a collision, such as weather-related damage.
Always carry current proof of insurance in your vehicle in case you’re stopped by a police officer – not having the mandated insurance minimums is a ticket-able offense, with a $500 fine and the loss of your driving privileges for sixty days. You also face up to one year in jail, depending on the circumstances, and must pay $500 to reinstate your driver’s license and vehicle registration in Massachusetts. It’s not worth the risk, especially if you get into an accident – your mandatory insurance will be what’s paying to take care of you. Massachusetts is a “no-fault” insurance state.
As of January 1, 2018, amendments were made to 211 CMR 38.00 (“Coordination of Benefits”) that impact how health and auto insurance carriers handle vehicle accident-related medical bills. Here are the basics. Don’t hesitate to contact DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (978) 327-5140 if you’re confused after a collision. We have offices in Boston, Methuen, and more to serve all of Massachusetts (and southern New Hampshire). Your initial consultation is free.
Whether you, as the driver, or a passenger in your vehicle or a pedestrian outside your vehicle were injured, all medical expenses should be forwarded to your auto insurance carrier first. The personal injury protection (PIP) benefits on your policy are considered “primary” coverage for the first $2,000 in claims, which should be paid by your insurer. Beyond the first $2,000 of accident-related expenses, your health insurance becomes primary. “Medical claims are sent to the patient’s insured health plan which pays for services covered under its policy,” according to 211 CMR 38.05(1)(a). The health insurer pays in accordance with your existing benefit plan – for example, if you have a closed panel plan, claims for non-emergency treatment may be limited to network providers unless previously authorized by your insurer.
Meanwhile, your PIP coverage becomes secondary for all claims beyond the first $2,000. This may include your copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles, or medical treatment that is not covered under your health care plan. It will not cover claims that have been denied by your health insurer because you failed to comply with the terms of your health benefit plan.
If you have Medical Payments benefit on your automobile insurance policy, it is always secondary and “in excess” of your health insurance and PIP. However, if you do have MedPay, medical treatment expenses denied under your health plan and PIP would be paid by MedPay.
It should be noted that personal injury protection is not available for all motor vehicle accidents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Specifically, PIP benefits are not available for motorcycle riders who crash, even if they have an auto insurance policy covering both the motorcycle and a passenger vehicle.
For example: Suppose you have the minimum required insurance plus MedPay. You’re hit by another driver, and your medical bills are $11,000. You would submit the first $2,000 in bills to your auto insurance company, and your PIP benefit will pay it. The remaining $9,000 goes to your health insurance company, which has no deductible or copay required. You pay $0 for the crash. But why should you go through your own insurance, since another driver was at fault? Let’s talk third-party liability.
Massachusetts is committed to being a no-fault state for car accidents. This means the Commonwealth wants you to find coverage first through your policy, your health insurance, your family member’s policies, and the State of Massachusetts Assigned Claim Facility – notably absent in that list is “the at-fault driver’s insurance.” However, you may file a claim for “third-party benefits” such as pain and suffering, wage loss, scarring or disfigurement, and other non-financial losses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
However, you must have suffered a “threshold injury” to be awarded third-party benefits: a serious impairment of an important body function, disfigurement or scarring, or death. This is hard to prove without consistent and thorough medical records and expert testimony. In other words, you should definitely work with an experienced personal injury lawyer after any crash that causes you serious harm.
Insurance companies are not always as forthcoming as they should be. In fact, they make more money when they pay less in claims, so they have an interest in lowballing you. Massachusetts has made it more difficult for them, but nationwide insurers have many tactics to confuse or deny you…especially when they’re trying to avoid third-party liability.Call DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (978) 327-5140 if you need help navigating a car crash in Boston, Methuen, Burlington, and beyond. We’ve handled hundreds of these claims in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. We charge no upfront fees, and only take our payment if we get you fair compensation for your injuries and other accident-related expenses.