In Massachusetts, if you drive and own a car you are required to have automobile insurance. The penalties for driving your car without insurance can be serious, a fine of not less than $500.00 and not more than $5000, or up to 1 year in jail, or both a fine AND imprisonment. Your license can be suspended and you can be required to pay an additional $500.00 or for one year of compulsory insurance. The bottom line is that driving without insurance in Massachusetts is something you should definitely try to avoid at all costs.
Once you are insured, and you get a surchargable event on your driving record, your insurance rates can increase. In Massachusetts, insurance rates are affected by the point system. The following is a schedule of the point system in Massachusetts:
- Major Traffic Violation (i.e. drunk driving) — 5 Points
- Major At-Fault Accident (claim over $2,000.00) — 4 Points
- Minor At-Fault Accident (claim under $2,000.00) — 3 Points
- Minor Traffic Violation (i.e. speeding) — 2 Points
What does this all mean?
If you are convicted of, or pay a fine for a traffic violation (this does not simply mean you were stopped and given a speeding ticket, or simply charged with a criminal offense such as operating under the influence of liquor), you receive surcharge points. You must fight the citation or the criminal charge through the court system. The court system is “the unknown” for many, and can be nerve-wracking and a waste of time if you do not understand how the system works. Generally, if you hire an attorney to represent you in court, your chances of coming away without an insurance surcharge are better.
What if you have an accident but don’t get cited and are not charged criminally?
If your insurance company determines that you are more than %50 percent at fault for a motor vehicle accident that results in property damage or bodily injury of more than $500.00, you will receive surcharge points. You can fight this and appeal the surcharge to the Board of Appeals at the Division of Insurance. If you are successful, surcharge points will be removed from your driving record. Again, many people hire a lawyer to represent them at the Board of Appeals at the Division of Insurance.
One surcharge point will increase your insurance premiums. Insurance surcharges increase with each and EVERY point received. Drivers with no surcharge points after six years of driving are considered to have a clean driving record and pay the lowest insurance premiums.
Not only will surcharges increase your insurance fees, but every insurance surcharge on your driving record increases the risk of your license being suspended. If you are a junior operator – being cited and paying the fine for one speeding ticket will result in a 90 day license suspension. If you are not a junior operator, your license will be suspended after three insurance surcharges in one year, five surcharges in three years, and the penalties rise incrementally. You don’t ever have to have been charged with a criminal driving offense to have your license suspended for 8 years, you can simply have a history of speeding! This is why you need to fight every speeding ticket!
Increase your chances of success and avoid an insurance surcharge, call me at 866-981-7888. Phone lines are open 24 Hours! You can also email me.
More information on insurance rates and surcharges is available at Massachusetts Division of Insurance.