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Massachusetts Auto Insurance - Understand Surcharge Points and the Impact on the Cost of Car Insurance

Apr 13, 2011
Our agencies are often asked questions about driving records and how accidents and moving violations affect insurance rates.  In the state of Massachusetts, motor vehicle violations and at-fault accidents are called surchargeable events and have a direct impact on the cost of your insurance.

If you have been licensed for, at least, 6 years and have no surchargeable events then you are considered a “99″ driver, the best you can be in the state.

When you first get your license you are a neutral “0″ point driver.  After 5 years clean driving experience you receive a credit and become a “98″ driver.  Now we all know, that new drivers are more likely to have minor accidents so just imagine how quickly your surchargable points can increase. 

For a minor at-fault accident, drivers are surcharged 3 points (less than $2,000 paid out combined damage).  For a major at-fault accident, drivers are surcharged 4 points (more than $2,000 paid out combined damage). 
Keep in mind - even minor damage to a vehicle can cost over $2000 to repair, so while it may have been minor is scope, the cost to fix BOTH vehicles can quickly surpass the $2000 threshold.

For the first motor vehicle violation (includes inspection sticker violations), the state will not surcharge you — HOWEVER — if you are a “99″ or “98″ driver, you lose your credits and become a “0″ driver. For each additional motor vehicle violations drivers are surcharged 2 points.

Each surcharge point increases your MA auto insurance.  On average 1 point incereases by as much as 12% ( 2points -around 24%, 3 points - around 36%, 4 points -around 48% ...).

For you parents out there, PLEASE share with your new drivers just how costly a minor accident or speeding ticket can be.

In addition to accidents, even an expired inspection sticker ticket can lead to a surcharge.  In Massachusetts, if you receive a ticket for this, you are charged the equivilant of a moving violation and therefor now have citation points assigned to you.

According to the MA Department of Insurance:

Surcharge points are incurred if you:
Cause an at-fault accident
Are convicted of, or pay a fine, for a traffic law violation
Are assigned to an alcohol education program
** An expired inspection sticker is considered “pay(ing) a fine for a traffic law violation.”

Now - we know there are a lot of people out there who think they are "beating the system" and getting a free year by waiting until the next month to get an inspection sticker.  Lets take a minute and do some easy math on the possible pitfalls of this theory. 

If you wait until the beginning of the next month - every year for 12 years, you will save $29, this breaks down to $2.40 a year in savings. 

Now - suppose you have been doing this successfully for 3 years (you have now saved $7.20), and one day something happens and you don't get the inspection sticker early in the next month and several weeks pass and now you get noticed by the police office that sees you every morning and he finally notices that your sticker is not valid.  The ticket fee is $40 for this violation; and as a result of the 2 points you are now carrying for 3 years - your auto insurance will go up by about 10%. 

If your annual premium is $1000, you will pay an additional $100 each year.  After all is said and done - the $7.20 you "saved" over the past couple of years, is not even close to covering the new cost of the violation ($340).

Also keep in mind - if you have a low mileage credit applied to your policy, the insurance companies are connected to the registry, and estimate your annual mileage based on your inspection sticker.  The inspection stations enter the current mileage of the vehicle into the registry system.  If you wait to get a sticker, your annual mileage will be higher and you can loose your low mileage credit.

In summary - it is best to get your inspection sticker the month in which it is due!

The best way to save money on insurance? Drive Safely & keep your driving record perfect!

Thanks for reading -
Please remember Sanviti Insurance & Mystic Insurance for all your Auto, Commercial and Homeowners Insurance needs.  We work hard to give you the coverage you need at the rate you deserve.  Please contact us today at 617-389-2020 or info@sanvitiagency.com

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