Understanding Massachusetts’ Minimum Coverage Law
Massachusetts law requires its drivers to have certain levels of automobile insurance. Drivers must purchase and maintain minimum coverage in the amount of:
- Bodily Injury to Others — $20,000 per accident victim and $40,000 per accident
- Personal Injury Protection — $8,000 per accident victim
- Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Driver — $20,000 per accident victim and $40,000 per accident
- Damage to Another Party’s Property — $5,000 per accident
The above amounts are minimum coverages required by law. However, you can purchase higher coverage amounts to protect yourself, your family, and your assets. Serious car accidents can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages; there is a strong argument for purchasing higher coverage amounts.
It is also wise to research optional insurance coverage, which could include:
- Underinsured motorist coverage
- Collision automobile insurance
- Gap insurance
- Comprehensive automobile insurance
- Rental car and towing insurance
- Umbrella insurance
An insurance agent can discuss the insurance options and the cost of each type of insurance coverage. Several factors impact the cost of car insurance, including your driving record, type of vehicle, policy limits, and company discounts.
What Does the Compulsory or Mandatory Coverage Pay For After a Car Accident?
The minimum coverage for automobile insurance compensates individuals for different types of damages or losses caused by a car accident.
Bodily Injury to Others
Liability insurance compensates other individuals when you are responsible for causing a motor vehicle accident. It also covers accidents caused by someone driving your vehicle with your permission. However, it only applies to accidents that occur in Massachusetts and does not cover injuries to passengers in your vehicle.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage or “PIP” pays medical expenses and up to 75% of your lost wages after an accident, up to the policy limits. PIP is a form of no-fault car insurance. It covers you, your passengers, someone you allow to drive your vehicle, anyone living in your home, and pedestrians. The benefits are paid regardless of who caused the automobile accident.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you, your household members, someone you allow to drive your vehicle, and your passengers if an uninsured driver causes an accident. It pays for damages caused by an uninsured driver. The coverage also applies to hit-and-run accidents.
Property Damage Coverage
This type of insurance compensates another party for damage to their vehicle or other property when you, another driver, or household members cause a car crash while driving your vehicle. It does not cover damage to your vehicle in an accident.
What Does Optional Car Insurance Cover?
Optional insurance coverages can provide added protection for:
- Underinsured motorist coverage — Damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits
- Collision automobile insurance — Covers damage to your vehicle in a crash that is your fault
- Gap insurance — Pays the difference between the value of your vehicle and the loan payoff amount if your vehicle is totaled in a crash
- Comprehensive automobile insurance — Pays for damage to your vehicle from theft, fire, hail, falling objects, vandalism, etc.
- Rental car and towing insurance — Pays for rental car fees and towing expenses in some situations
- Umbrella insurance — Provides liability protection if you cause an accident that results in damages that exceed your car insurance policy limits
Optional car insurance is not required by the minimum coverage law in Massachusetts. However, that does not mean that drivers should not seriously consider optional insurance coverage to protect themselves. Also, most car loan companies require comprehensive and collision coverage as part of the loan terms.
Massachusetts No-Fault Insurance Laws
Drivers are required to have no-fault or PIP insurance coverage as part of their minimum coverage. Therefore, if you are involved in a car accident, you file a claim against your PIP insurance coverage regardless of who caused the accident.
PIP benefits include:
- Necessary and reasonable medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Up to 75% of lost wages and earnings
- Necessary and ordinary household services
Unfortunately, $8,000 is not a lot of money. A person could exhaust the minimum policy limits of their PIP coverage if they sustain a minor injury that requires them to be out of work for a few weeks.
However, if you sustained a serious injury or medical expenses over $2,000, you might be able to sue the at-fault driver for damages. Damages would include medical bills and lost wages, and they would include non-economic damages not covered by PIP insurance.
The best way to determine if you have a personal injury claim after a Massachusetts car accident is by talking to a car accident lawyer. In some cases, you could also have an underinsured motorist claim that could help pay for damages caused by a car crash.
Keep in mind that the Massachusetts statute of limitations restricts the time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident. Therefore, do not delay in contacting a lawyer if you have questions about a car accident claim.