Massachusetts No-Fault Car Insurance

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

By , J.D.
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  • Any vehicle operated in Massachusetts must have car insurance coverage, and understanding the state's car insurance rules is crucial if you're in a car accident:

    • Massachusetts is a "no-fault" car insurance state, which means your own insurance covers your medical bills and certain other losses after an accident, regardless of who caused the crash.
    • Your options for pursuing a claim against another driver are limited in Massachusetts, unless your car accident injuries meet a certain threshold.
    • Four types of car insurance are required under Massachusetts law, and there are strict penalties for driving without insurance in the state.

    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.

    Who Is Covered Under Massachusetts No-Fault Car Insurance?

    Your no-fault or PIP coverage will apply to:

    • you (the owner of the vehicle)
    • anyone who has your permission to drive your vehicle
    • any passenger riding in your vehicle, and
    • any pedestrian injured by your vehicle

    What Is Covered Under Massachusetts No-Fault Car Insurance?

    Your Massachusetts PIP coverage will pay for the following kinds of losses resulting from a car accident, but only up to a limit of $8,000:

    • medical bills stemming from the car accident
    • up to 75% of lost income due to your inability to work, and
    • "replacement services" (for someone to take care of household chores that you're unable to perform because of the accident, for example).

    One key thing to know when it comes to compensable losses after a car accident is that with PIP/no-fault, you can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages resulting 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.

    What Is the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan?

    If for whatever reason you're unable to get an insurance company to sell you a car insurance policy, in order to comply with the state's auto insurance rules you can be assigned an insurance company through the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP).

    All companies selling car insurance in the state are required to participate in the MAIP, and the company you're assigned will be required to sell you a car insurance policy, except in very limited circumstances. Learn more about the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (from Mass.gov).

    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.

    Get More Information and Help

    Learn more about auto insurance in Massachusetts and check out these FAQs about auto insurance claims (from Mass.gov). And if you've been in a car accident, especially if your injuries are significant, you might want to learn more about your options under Massachusetts law. See how an attorney can help with your car accident case.

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