Under the competitive auto insurance market system in Massachusetts, insurance companies are free to create their own rules—known as Merit Rating Plans— to determine how your driving record will affect your insurance premium. These plans lower your insurance premium based on years of incident-free driving, or raise your premium based on at-fault accidents and traffic violations.
There are two types of surchargeable incidents:
- Accidents – You receive surcharge points if you are more than 50% at fault for a motor vehicle accident that results in damage to property or bodily injury of more than $1,000.
- Traffic Violations – You also receive surcharge points if you are convicted of, or pay a fine for a traffic violation; or are assigned to a drug or alcohol education program. *
Here’s a schedule of points you can receive by surchargeable incident:
|Major Traffic Violation (i.e., DUI)||5|
|Major At-Fault Accident (claim over $5,000)||4|
|Minor At-Fault Accident (claim over $1,000 to $5,000)||3|
|Minor Traffic Violation (i.e., speeding) *||2|
*While you won’t receive surchargeable points on the first non-criminal minor
traffic violation, that year will not be counted as an ”incident free” year.
So what does this mean in terms of your insurance premium? It’s different with each insurance company, but generally speaking, surcharges costs run from $100 to $125 per point. If you are receiving a safe driver discount from your insurer, you lose that. And finally, insurers have the right to charge you for points for a period of up to 5 years. That can all add up to a significant penalty for bad driving. Here’s an example:
One DUI = 5 points (x $100/point = $500/year)
Loss of safe driver discount (estimate $100/year)
Total penalty/year: $600
$600 x 5 years = $3,000
In contrast, drivers with no at-fault accidents or moving violations for at least 5 years of clean driving can receive a considerable discount on their insurance. The two safe driver discount levels are:
|Excellent Driver Discount Plus||99||No accidents or violations in 6 years|
|Excellent Driver Discount||98||No accidents or violations in 5 years|
The bottom line is pretty clear. Not only are you reducing the risk of injury to yourself or others when you practice safe driving every time you get in your car, but you’re also potentially saving thousands of dollars! And that’s a formula we think makes a lot of sense!
Want more information about having the right auto insurance coverage AND saving money? Contact an agent of the Cushman Insurance Group.
WANT TO STAY INFORMED WITH SMART INSURANCE TIPS AND MORE?