Massachusetts Plates: regular vs. commercial


Our Massachusetts Independent Insurance Agency received a question from a client regarding putting lettering on the back of her car and if this would require commercial plates.

Great question.

The Long answer:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation defines commercial vehicles (requiring commercial plates) as:


This includes:  Any vehicle which has a vehicle weight of more than 6,000 pounds unless it is a sport utility vehicle, passenger van, pickup truck or cargo van meeting the definition of a private passenger vehicle.

  • Any vehicle which as five or more wheels i.e.; a dually
  • Any pickup truck or cargo van, owned by a partnership, trust or corporation unless the vehicle meets the definition of a private passenger vehicle.
  • Any pickup truck or cargo van if on the bed , roof or sides of the vehicle tools, equipment, supplies and materials are transported to or from a job site (personal projects without compensation are not considered a job site).
  • A vehicle which has business lettering, markings and/or advertisements on it.
  • A vehicle used for hire to plow.
  • A vehicle used for hire to transport or store goods or merchandise (unless the vehicle is owned by an individual, the maximum carrying capacity is 1,000 pounds or less and is only used on a part-time basis).
  • A vehicle used to transport or store goods or merchandise intended for sale in the operator’s business (unless the vehicle is owned by an individual, the maximum carrying capacity is 1,000 pounds or less and is only used on a part-time basis).

So,  according to the MA Department of Transportation, if the vehicle has business lettering, markings +/or advertisements, then the vehicle should have commercial plates.

Ways to Save Money on Massachusetts Auto Insurance


1.) Package Your Auto & Home Insurance through the same agency/company!

Insurance companies that write in Massachusetts offer account discounts on both home and auto insurance. Discounts available are anywhere from 5% – 15% on the auto & between 10% – 20% on the home.

2.) Utilize an Independent Insurance Agency! 

Most Massachusetts Insurance Agencies write business with five auto insurance carriers. By utilizing an Independent Agency you will be utilizing the most valuable tool that the new, managed competition system offers. An Independent Insurance Agency will be most familiar with the different discounts and programs that are available.

3.) Take advantage of available discounts!

This one is, sort of, the tricky one. Different companies offer different discounts and knowing which ones are best for you is where an Independent Insurance Agent should be able to provide you valuable assistance.

When reviewing different companies discounts, however, keep in mind that no matter how many alleged discounts or percentage points companies are promising, the bottom line premium is the most important thing.

Discounts that are available are:

  • Account discount on your auto if you have a home, apartment or condominium policy with the same company.
  • Improved excellent driver & excellent driver plus discounts (99 & 98 drivers).
  • Pay in full discounts.
  • Hybrid vehicle discount.
  • Advanced driver training discount.
  • Certain college (for example: Boston College & Merrimack College) and organization (for example: Mass Bar Association & Mass Medical Society) discounts.
  • Good student discount (“B”or better)
  • Student away at school discount.

4.)  Make certain that you have the best insurance program!

Some of the new insurance programs that are available include:

  • Disappearing Collision Deductible.
  • Accident and Moving Violation Forgiveness.
  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost.
  • Emergency Road Travel Expenses.
  • Auto loan/Gap Coverage.
  • Combined bill options.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer billing option/ No service fees.

Uber/Lyft Drivers: Beware

The Massachusetts personal auto policy is very strict when it comes to Uber/Lyft or other rideshare programs.
Per a recent article in The Massachusetts Agent (Official Newsletter of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents), companies can void all optional coverage if the consumer is in an accident while working as a driving service.
The article states, “Here is how the policy may or may not respond:
  • Part 3. Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto – Coverage is limited to $30/80M for anyone injured while occupying your auto while it is being used as a public or livery conveyance.
  • Part 4. Damage to Someone Else’s Property – The policy will not pay if property damage occurs while your auto is being used as a public or livery conveyance.
  • All Optional Coverages – The policy will not pay under any of the optional coverages if the accident happens while your auto is being used as a public or livery conveyance.
  • Part 12. Bodily Injury Caused by an Underinsured Auto – The policy will not pay for anyone injured while occupying your auto while it is being used as a public or livery conveyance.”
In addition, if the insurance company knows how vehicle is being used, they can cancel coverage.
Although premium prohibitive, the other option is to write coverage as a commercial vehicle/commercial insurance policy.

MA Auto Insurance Quote

Shop for MA Auto Insurance

In order to make certain you are getting the best rates, it’s important to shop around and look for every discount available.

The first place to start when looking for the best auto premium is by packaging your auto insurance with the same company as your home insurance.

If you don’t own a home or condominium, it might be time to purchase apartment insurance coverage. If not for the only reason of taking advantage of an auto insurer’s “account discount.”

Other discounts to consider:

  • Did you drive less than 10,000 miles over the past 12 months?
  • Are you a good driver? Have you had any at-fault accidents or moving violations over the past 6 years?
  • Do you pay your bills in full?
  • Do you receive your bills and documents by e-mail?
  • Did you recently get married? Do you have the same company as your spouse?
  • Are any of your kids good students? Do they have a “B” or better average?
  • Are you a college graduate?

Frozen Pipes

Don't Let Your Pipes Freeze

Yes, is a website for Massachusetts auto insurance. In Massachusetts it has been very cold lately and, even though we’re an auto insurance quote website, many auto insurers also own homes!

With that, let’s talk about the dreaded:  Frozen Pipes!

Frozen Pipes

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup, which eventually will lead to pipes bursting at their weakest point, causing water damage to your home or business.

To keep water in pipes from freezing, take the following precautions:

  • Keep the temperature in your home or business above 65 degrees at all times.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.

Winter Driving Tips

Stay Safe Massachusetts

Driving during the winter in Massachusetts can be one of the most difficult and hazardous situations for both new and experienced drivers.

As the snow flies we offer some winter driving tips:

  • Reduce your speed according to road conditions. Drive cautiously and accelerate gently.
  • Never lock your brakes on icy roads. You will lose steering control. If you do skid, try to remember to turn into the direction of the skid.
  • Increase the space between your vehicle and others. You need more distance to stop safely on slippery surfaces.
  • Make sure your windshield washer has sufficient fluid and that your wipers and defroster are in good condition.
  • Before driving, completely remove ice and snow from your vehicle. Clear all windows, wipers, headlights, and brake lights.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
  • Keep a sleeping bad or blanket, flashlight, water, high calorie food that will not spoil, and a shovel in your trunk for emergencies.
  • Best tip of all: Don’t Drive!

From all of us at MassAutoQuote: Stay Safe Massachusetts!

Massachusetts At-fault Accident Surcharge Appeal

MA Auto Accident Surcharge Appeal

We’ve reported on it before and believe it’s worth talking about some more:

Have you been found “at-fault” in a Massachusetts accident?

Have you received the surcharge notice?

If so, this means your insurance company paid out over $500 and have determined you to be more than 50% at-fault.

If you believe you were less than 50% at-fault, MassAutoQuote believes you should appeal the surcharge.

When determining fault in an accident, unlike the insurance companies, the Board of Appeals takes into consideration contributing factors; such as: road condition (icy, wet, snow-covered), visibility, erratic driving, etc.

The cost to appeal the surcharge is $50 and the Massachusetts Board of Appeal tells us it is taking about 8 months before your receive your hearing date.

You can appeal a surcharge either: in person, by written statement, or by selecting someone to appear on your behalf.

Hearings are scheduled in:  Boston, Brockton, Peabody, Plymouth, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, or Worcester. Board of Appeal Contact information

Board of Appeal
Division of Insurance
1000 Washington St, Suite 810
Boston, MA 02118-6200
Phone (617) 521-7478
Fax (617) 521-7772
Email: BOA Mailbox

Merit Rating Board
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889
Phone: (617) 351-4400

MassAutoQuote: Save Benjamins


The job of the Massachusetts Independent Insurance Agent is to get the best rates and coverage for clients.

The Independent Insurance Agent shops coverage with numerous companies and takes advantage of available discount programs.

The Independent Insurance Agent will advise and advocate.

The Independent Agent will save you Benjamins.


Insuring My Teen Driver

Teen Driver

Ah yes, your teen is finally behind the wheel, which allows you to hang up your hat as the resident chauffeur. But in addition to that new found sense of freedom for both parent and teen, comes a new pinch in the pocketbook. Ouch.

It’s true, parents of teen drivers typically incur an increase in their car insurance premiums, but we have some tips to help offset the cost of having a young driver on your auto insurance policy.

Choosing a Vehicle for your Teen Driver-

One factor that can affect your rate significantly is whether your child will have their own car. There is a substantial savings in having a new teen driver share the family vehicle rather than giving them a car of their own. In addition to having one less vehicle to carry on your policy, sharing a car means they will spend less time driving because of limited access to a vehicle.

Should you choose to get your teen their own vehicle, the type of car you select can affect your premiums considerably. Your independent insurance agent can help you determine which models cost less to insure, but considering these factors may help you narrow down your choices:

  • Drive a used car. While a brand new car may seem the safest choice (if cost isn’t an issue), it is often the more expensive route when it comes to car insurance. If you do not need to insure the value of the vehicle (ie- no collision and no comprehensive coverage), you and your teen driver will save – most likely- over $1,000 annually.
  • Safety rankings count. Whether you are considering new or used, it is a good idea to check the safety ratings. Having your teen at the wheel of a safe car might affect your premium as well as your peace of mind.

Happy New Year Massachusetts!

Happy New Year from MassAutoQuote celebrates our 16th year providing free, no obligation Massachusetts auto insurance quotes.

Some popular New Year’s resolutions include:

  • Get in Shape
  • Lose Weight
  • Quit
  • Spend More Time with Family & Friends
  • Smoking
  • Enjoy Life More
  • Quit Drinking
  • Get Out of Debt
  • Try Something New
  • Help Others

To this list, we recommend Massachusetts residents add: compare your insurance!

The biggest problem we see is:

Not enough coverage.

There has never been a better time to shop and compare different companies premium and coverage programs.

Click, call, fax or e-mail a copy of your auto insurance coverage page … we’d love to take a look.