Massachusetts No-Fault Car Insurance

A breakdown of the Massachusetts no-fault car insurance system, and minimum car insurance coverage requirements in the state.

Vehicle owners in Massachusetts are required by law to maintain certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage on any vehicle registered and driven in the state. Massachusetts is also a "no-fault" car insurance state, which means your options for pursuing a claim are often limited when you're injured in a car accident. Read on to learn more about Massachusetts's no-fault car insurance system, the minimum car insurance coverage requirements in the state, penalties for driving without insurance in Massachusetts, and more.

No-Fault Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of a dozen or so states that follow some form of a "no-fault" car insurance system. Under no-fault, after a car accident, your own car insurance coverage (specifically, your "personal injury protection" or "medical payments" coverage) pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses incurred by anyone covered under the policy, up to coverage limits, regardless of who caused the accident. But with a no-fault claim, you can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages stemming from the accident.

In order to step outside of the no-fault system and file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver (so that "pain and suffering" and other non-economic losses are on the table) your injuries must meet certain thresholds set by state law (we'll look at the details in the next section).

It’s important to note that Massachusetts’ no-fault car insurance system applies to injuries caused by car accidents, but not to vehicle damage claims. A claim for damage to (or total loss of) a vehicle can be made against the at-fault driver in Massachusetts, with no limitations.

Stepping Outside of "No-Fault" in Massachusetts

As touched on above, in order to step outside of Massachusetts' no-fault car insurance claim system and pursue a claim against the driver who caused the car accident:

  • the injured person must have incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, and/or
  • injuries resulting from the accident must include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.

If your injuries qualify under this definition, you're not limited to a no-fault claim under your own policy. You can hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident via a third-party car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, and you can pursue compensation for all categories of losses, including pain and suffering and all other available non-economic damages (which, again, aren't available in a no-fault claim).

Now that you understand how no-fault car insurance works in Massachusetts, let’s look at the state’s requirements for different kinds of car insurance coverage.

Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Requirements in Massachusetts

In order to legally drive a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, owners must carry certain minimum amounts of insurance on it:

  • $20,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person (when you cause a car accident)
  • $40,000 total liability bodily injury coverage per accident you cause (regardless of how many people are injured)
  • $5,000 liability coverage for property damage (per accident you cause)
  • $8,000 in no-fault (personal injury protection) coverage, and
  • uninsured motorist coverage (for bodily injury sustained by you or anyone else covered under your policy, if injured by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver) at $20,000 per person/$40,000 total per accident.

Keep in mind that, if you are found responsible for causing a car accident, and the injured drivers' and/or passengers' losses exceed the limits of your car insurance policy (which is not all that far-fetched a possibility if you’ve only met Massachusetts’s minimum coverage requirements), you may find yourself personally responsible for making up the difference out of your own assets.

You'll also note that you're not required to carry any kind of insurance for damage to your own vehicle in Massachusetts. And since no-fault doesn't cover vehicle damage, a driver who wants insurance coverage that will pay for repairs or replacement of a damaged vehicle must buy additional coverage, known as collision (for accidents involving another vehicle) and comprehensive (for accidents involving weather, animals, or objects). If you lease or finance a vehicle purchase, you may be required to pay for these coverage add-ons.

Driving Without Insurance in Massachusetts

Once convicted of driving without insurance in Massachusetts, you can face:

  • a fine of at least $500, and
  • an order to pay an amount equal to one year's premium for mandatory car insurance at the highest market rate (based on location and driver risk) at the time of the offense.

You could also face jail time and suspension of your license.

The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP)

The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP) is a government insurance program that provides coverage for drivers who have not been able to find insurance in the regular market. An insurance agent can submit an application to MAIP on the driver's behalf after trying and failing to find insurance for the driver through normal channels. MAIP policyholders are assigned randomly to an insurer who is licensed to do business in Massachusetts, and that insurer must provide coverage in most instances. More information about the MAIP is available in these FAQ from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

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