Auto Insurance Information
What is auto insurance?
Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Most auto policies are for six months or a year.
Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage:
- Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
- Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
- Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.
An auto insurance policy is comprised of six main types of coverage:
1. Bodily Injury Liability- You cause an accident and someone else is injured. Medical costs to the injured party and your own legal costs are covered.
2. Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)- This is the coverage you need when you've been in an accident, whether or not it's your fault, and you are injured. Your passengers and other household members are included in this coverage.
3. Property Damage Liability- You cause an accident and this type of coverage covers costs to the other vehicle.
4. Collision- This type of coverage covers damages to your vehicle. If you hit a tree, damages are covered. If your car flips over, damages are covered.
5. Comprehensive- Comprehensive coverage is what you need when a tree falls on your car or someone breaks into it. It covers damages incurred by natural disasters such as flooding. If you hit a tree, comprehensive is not what you're looking for (collision is).
6. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage- If you're hit by someone who does not have insurance, say someone from New Hampshire (see below), the medical costs of you and your passengers are covered.
These are the main types of coverage but there are others available, such as rental reimbursement. Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of the above coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements.
What are the legal requirements for auto insurance?
In the state of Massachusetts, you're required by law to have Bodily Injury Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Property Damage Liability, and Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. There are also minimum limits of coverage (your limit of coverage is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay, so after you reach the limit, you're paying out of pocket). For example, the minimum limit for Bodily Injury to Others in MA is 20,000 per person and 40,000 per accident. Find out more about the legal requirements of auto insurance in MA here.
New Hampshire is the only state in the US that does not legally require auto insurance.
Why do you need auto insurance?
It's really all about protecting yourself financially.
- If you're in an accident or your car is stolen, it costs money, often a lot of money, to fix or replace it.
- If you or any passengers are injured in an accident, medical costs can be extremely expensive.
- If you or your car is responsible for damage or injury to others, you may be sued for much more than you're worth.
Questions to ask your agent
Your Independent Agent is an advocate for finding auto insurance that meets your specific needs. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare for the discussion:
- How much can you afford to pay if you get in an accident? (To keep premiums low you may want to have a higher deductible and be willing to pay more for repairs.)
- What is the insurance company's level of service and ability to pay claims?
- What discounts are available? (Ask about good driver, multiple policy and student discounts.)
- What's the procedure for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)
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Auto Insurance Customer Service Options
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