No, you do not need rental car insurance in Massachusetts. As is the case in most states, rental car companies in Massachusetts provide the minimum state-required liability insurance coverage as a part of their basic contract. Specifically, they provide $20,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person ($40,000 per accident) and $5,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident. Massachusetts generally requires drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and personal injury protection (PIP), too, but you can legally drive a rental car without this additional coverage.
If you have an existing personal car insurance policy that includes other types of coverage, like collision or comprehensive, or liability limits that are higher than what your state requires, the extra protection will extend to your rental car. But if you don’t have auto insurance coverage of your own, it may be a good idea to purchase additional coverage from the rental company if you’re concerned about having enough protection in an accident.
For example, you can purchase a collision damage waiver, which provides coverage comparable to collision and comprehensive insurance. This type of coverage may even apply automatically if you pay for your rental with the right credit card. You can also purchase supplemental coverage that adds to the existing liability and medical payments limits from your personal policy.
No, you do not need insurance to rent a car because rental companies have their own insurance. Rental car companies usually provide minimum liability coverage only, so if you don’t have personal insurance, you’ll probably want to purchase extra rental car insurance through the rental company. If your personal car is insured and you pay for your rental with a credit card, you can probably skip the optional coverage offered at the rental counter.… read full answer
You don’t have to purchase all of these coverage types to be protected while driving your rental. But minimum liability insurance carried by the rental car company isn’t enough protection if you get into an accident.
When You Don't Need The Rental Company's Insurance
Before you buy the rental company’s insurance, you should consider what coverage you may already have through your personal car insurance. The coverage limits and deductibles you have on your personal vehicle typically still apply to rentals, as long as you’re renting for personal use. Many major credit cards also offer coverage for rental cars if you pay with your card and decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Massachusetts include fines, suspension of your driver's license, and imprisonment. You can avoid these consequences by meeting Massachusetts’s proof of financial responsibility requirements. Massachusetts requires that all drivers have at least $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $40,000 per accident, along with $5,000 in liability coverage for property damage.… read full answer
Purchasing Massachusetts’s minimum liability car insurance coverage is the easiest way to satisfy the financial responsibility requirement. Drivers in Massachusetts pay an average of $547 per year to maintain the minimum amount of coverage. That’s nothing compared to the consequences of driving without insurance, especially if you get into an accident.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Massachusetts
Type of Offense
License and/or Registration Suspended?
Maximum Fines & Fees
No Proof of Insurance (Can Prove Coverage)
$25 mandatory fee
1st Offense With No Coverage
Up to 1 year
Up to $1,000
Repeat Offense (No Coverage)
Up to 1 year
Not having car insurance and not being able to prove that you have it are two different violations. If you have insurance but cannot prove it when you get pulled over or at the scene of an accident, you are guilty of an “administrative violation,” similar to a seat-belt ticket. In Massachusetts, your citation might be dismissed if you can provide the court with proof of valid insurance for the date of the citation within 20 days.
Driving without car insurance at all is much more serious, and the penalties are more severe. In addition to the legal consequences, you can also expect your car insurance premium to go up. A single conviction for driving without insurance raises annual premiums by an average of 27%, or $441, in Massachusetts.
What happens if you get into a car accident without insurance in Massachusetts?
If you get into an accident while driving without insurance in Massachusetts, you will be cited and all the penalties for driving without insurance will apply, no matter who is at fault. Driving uninsured can make it difficult to be compensated for damages if you are not at fault and can have long-lasting and life-changing consequences if you are at fault.
If the accident is your fault, you’ll have to pay for all the damages out of your own pocket. In addition to the legal consequences for driving without insurance, you could easily be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars or more in damage to your vehicle, the other driver’s repair and hospital bills, and your own medical care. Both the other driver and their insurance company can sue you and have future wages and savings garnished to pay for damages. You could face mounting debt or even bankruptcy, especially if the other driver doesn’t carry uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection.
Even if the accident is not your fault, driving without insurance leaves you vulnerable to expensive hospital and repair bills. Massachusetts is a no-fault state. In no-fault states, all drivers process claims through their own insurance companies, no matter who caused the crash. If you’re struck by a driver in a no-fault state and you don’t have car insurance, you’ll probably end up paying for everything out of your own pocket.
You can get car insurance in Massachusetts, even if you are…
Uninsured: Unless you’re a newly licensed driver, having a history of driving without insurance or lapses in coverage is a risk to insurers. To insurance companies, it’s similar to a bad driving record, which is why drivers who let their insurance lapse for 60 days pay about 35% more than the average premium in Massachusetts.
USAA, Nationwide, and Geico tend to have the lowest rates for drivers who want to regain coverage.
Driving someone else’s car: It’s not illegal to drive someone else’s car if you do not have insurance, but non-owner car insurance can protect you if you don’t have a car but still drive regularly. If you borrow a car from someone living in your own home, you should be listed on the car owner’s policy. But you may want to explore non-owner coverage if you need to reinstate a driver’s license, you rent or borrow cars frequently, or you want to maintain continuous auto coverage between vehicles.
Geico, Nationwide, and The General good places to shop if you need non-driver car insurance.
High-Risk: If you’re a high-risk driver who has been denied coverage from traditional insurance companies, check out Massachusetts’s assigned risk program. Whether you require an assigned risk program or still qualify for high-risk insurance from conventional providers, you’ll pay more. In Massachusetts, drivers with just two speeding tickets pay an average of 51% more on their annual car insurance premiums, for example.
Depending on your driving record and the seriousness of your infractions, you could pay even more. Still, even though rates may be higher, at least you can drive legally and avoid more penalties.
Final Thoughts: How to avoid driving without insurance in Massachusetts
To avoid the penalties of driving without insurance, shop around for at least $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $40,000 per accident, along with $5,000 in liability coverage for property damage of liability coverage from three or more car insurance companies. In Massachusetts, you can find basic liability auto insurance for around $547 per year if you have a clean driving record. The consequences of driving without insurance are ultimately more costly than purchasing minimum auto insurance coverage.
No matter what your unique needs are, the best way to get accurate quotes and the best prices is to comparison shop.
The Massachusetts new-car insurance grace period is 2 to 30 days in most cases. The new-car grace period is how long insured drivers are allowed to drive a newly purchased vehicle before adding it to an existing car insurance policy. If you don’t have a current policy, you’ll need proof of personal injury protection and liability coverage before you can legally drive or register your car in Massachusetts.… read full answer
When you buy a new car in Massachusetts, the time you have to notify your insurer can vary because there are no state laws guaranteeing how much time insurance companies must give you to switch your existing policy to a new car. Each insurance company sets its own grace period. That’s why it’s important to find out how much time you have to contact your insurance company and how much coverage your new car will have according to your specific policy details.
When You Need Insurance to Buy a New Car in Massachusetts
If you’re financing a car, you will probably be required by your lender to have proof of insurance before driving off the lot. You can get the information you need for a policy, like the car’s VIN, from the dealership before completing the purchase. If you do have an active policy, your current proof of insurance should be all you need.
If you’re paying cash or buying a car outright from a private seller, you probably won’t be asked to provide proof of insurance to take possession of the vehicle. Either way, you still have to meet minimum financial responsibility requirements to drive legally in Massachusetts: $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $40,000 per accident, along with $5,000 in liability coverage for property damage.
If you lease or finance a car, you’ll probably also need collision and comprehensive coverage to protect the lender’s investment. Buying collision and comprehensive coverage along with your state’s minimum requirements results in an average cost of $3,928 per year, for Massachusetts full coverage insurance.
Because you have to provide proof of insurance before you can take possession of a newly financed car, some insurers extend comprehensive and collision coverage to existing customers in good faith, regardless of whether their current policy has those types of coverage. If that’s the case, your grace period will be shorter—2 to 4 days instead of 7 to 30.
How New Car Insurance Grace Period Works in Massachusetts When You’re…
Replacing your old car with a new car. Most insurance companies offer a 7 to 30 day grace period if you replace a covered vehicle on your policy. The same type and amount of coverage that applies to the car you’re replacing will apply to the new one. If you have multiple cars on your policy, Massachusetts requires that your new car is covered by the highest level of coverage on the policy.
NOT replacing your old car with a new car. If you aren’t replacing your car when you purchase a new one, you should confirm you have at least minimum liability coverage for the car you are buying in Massachusetts. Not all insurance companies extend coverage if you are adding a new vehicle to your policy—for example, if you’re going from two to three cars. If they do, it will be for a shorter time, usually 2 to 4 days.
Although you probably have a grace period if you’re already insured, it’s best not to depend on it. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to let them know about changes to your policy, especially when it comes to confirming coverage for a new car.
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