Accidents, Auto Repairs, Insurance Companies and Betterment …

Insurance companies and betterment

Accidents, Auto Repairs, Insurance Companies and Betterment …

It sounds like the name of a bad, Hollywood Romcom. In the case of an auto insurance claim, it’s worse. It’s neither romantic nor comedic.

Over the years we’ve seen claim situations where the claims department depreciates what they’ll pay for parts. This typically occurs with older vehicles and can leave the consumer holding the repair bag.

This is part of the insurance contract that does not allow “betterment.”

As explained by one claims department:

Betterment applies on items that have a finite life span, or to areas of a vehicle that have prior damage that overlaps new damage.

In this case, the policyholder has a 15 year old vehicle that needs new mechanical parts.  These parts wear over time and are not expected to last the lifetime of the vehicle.

The policy owes for the actual cash value of the parts lost or damaged. The betterment accounts for the difference in value as the vehicle is getting new parts.

In effect, it is depreciation. The policy cannot leave the  policyholder in a better position after the loss than he was in before the loss. The betterment makes the depreciation adjustment so that the claim keeps him on equal footing and allows for the actual cash value of the parts being replaced.

In a few extreme cases, when depreciation has seemed excessively penal, when it comes to insurance companies and betterment, our Agency has been able to talk to the claims handler and negotiate a more reasonable settlement.


Gas Saving Tips

Gas Saving Tips:

10 Tips to Get the Most out of a Tank of Gas

Rising gas prices highlight the need to squeeze every mile out of a gallon of gas

Consumer Reports

1. Stay at half. Keep at least a half-tank of fuel during cold winter months, and when there is a risk of shortages, say, due to a lack of gasoline delivery drivers to meet travel demands, or when a major storm or hurricane is imminent. This tip also goes for holiday road trips, when roads can be congested and slow moving. Having plenty of gas onboard can ease stress and give you more flexibility with when and where you fill up.

2. Check online. Apps and websites such as GasBuddy can show local gas prices, making it easy to find good prices in your area or if you need to travel. Generally, gas stations well off major highways and away from city centers tend to have better prices, as do warehouse stores and some major travel centers.

3. Minimize travel. If you can delay errands or other activities, you will preserve the gas that you purchased and reduce overall consumption for the region, helping in some small way to reduce the gas scarcity.

4. Obey speed limits. When you drive, follow the speed limits and drive smoothly. Your driving habits can play a significant role in fuel economy.

A recent CR test shows this: We measured gas mileage while driving at a steady 55, 65, and 75 mph in a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4. We found that reducing speed from 65 mph to 55 mph improved fuel economy by 6 mpg in the Altima and 8 mpg in the RAV4. The penalty of cruising at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, was almost 7 mpg in the Altima and 6 mpg in the RAV4. Higher speeds exact a toll in fuel consumption. Another way to look at it: Speeding up from 55 to 75 mph is like moving from a compact car to a large SUV. Beyond fuel concerns, speeding is, of course, a safety risk.

5. Drive evenly. Avoid hard acceleration and braking whenever possible. In our tests, frequent bursts of acceleration and braking reduced an older Toyota Camry’s mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Once up to speed, maintain a steady pace. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use. Unnecessary braking wastes the fuel you used to get up to speed. Drive smoothly and anticipate the movement of traffic. Smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking also extend the life of the engine, transmission, brakes, and tires.

6. Pay attention to aerodynamics. Remove roof racks when they are not being used. At highway speeds, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Don’t add to that by carrying unneeded things on the roof. We did fuel-economy tests at highway speed on a Nissan Altima and Toyota RAV4 with a roof rack, a tail-hitch rack, and a rooftop box. Carrying two mountain bikes on the roof had the biggest impact. The Altima lost 13 mpg, going from 46 mpg to 33 mpg. The RAV4 lost 7 mpg, dropping to 32 mpg from 39 mpg.

There’s even a loss when driving with an empty roof rack: The Altima dropped 5 mpg, and the Toyota lost 2 mpg. The Nissan lost 12 mpg with the bikes on the hitch-mounted rack, while the RAV4 was down only 5 mpg. The bikes stuck out beyond the sides of the sedan, which created extra drag. They were mostly hidden behind the wider, boxier RAV4’s bodywork.

The rooftop box resulted in a 9 mpg decrease for the Altima and a 5 mpg drop for the RAV4.

Overall, the aerodynamic drag doesn’t hurt the more boxy RAV4 as much as the sleeker Altima.

7. Buy good-quality gas. We typically recommend using Top Tier gas—that is, gas that is held to a higher standard through the voluntary participation of numerous gas station brands, including Chevron, Costco, Exxon, Mobil, and Shell. Beware that many familiar brands do not have Top Tier gas. The goal is to feed your car good-quality gas whenever possible, but it is fair to be flexible during a shortage or when traveling. The detergents in Top Tier gas can eventually clean any engine deposits that may accumulate when good-quality gas is more readily available.

8. Skip the premium. Save money and skip premium gas unless it is “required.” This is indicated on the fuel filler door. Many cars list “recommended,” which means it is optional. If there is only midgrade or premium fuel available, this will work fine in a car that is rated for regular gasoline.

9. Check tire pressure. Check your tire pressure. Tires lose about 1 psi a month. Having tires with lower pressure than what is recommended on your doorjamb sticker can affect performance, tire longevity, and fuel economy.

10. Skip the AC. Using air conditioning does consume gas. In mild weather, if you can get by without it, even if you open the windows, it will give incremental savings. But once it gets hot, having AC on to cool the cabin and lower humidity is a wise investment in your comfort and ability to stay alert while driving.

Camper plates or trailer plates?

Camper plates or trailer plates

It’s a question almost as old as some of the Registry workers themselves: Camper plates or trailer plates on my Massachusetts camper trailer?

Camper plates must have permanent living facilities (sink and toilet).

Camper plates may also be issued to vehicles which meet the definition of House Trailer (a house trailer that has no motor power and is equipped for human habitation – includes bathroom and sink facilities). These vehicles are not to be used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A four wheel tow dolly, when used in conjunction with a tractor/trailer combination, must be registered as a semi-trailer. Trailer weight is always rounded up to the nearest thousand pounds.

Auto Home (CAMPER):

A. Definition: Auto home, any motor vehicle originally designed or permanently altered and equipped for human habitation which is not used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A motor vehicle designed primarily to transport property which has been temporarily altered or equipped for human habitation shall not be deemed to be an auto home. (MGL ch. 90 s. 1)

B. Plate Types: There are three types of auto home plates:

Auto Home Normal (Plate Type: AHN) – Auto Home Normal plates consist of three to five numbers

Auto Home Reserved (Plate Type: AHR) – Auto Home Reserved plates consist of one or two numbers.

Auto Home Vanity (Plate Type: AHV) – ALAR maintains the plate number preceded by the code “CA.”

C. Plates Issued: Auto Home Normal, Reserved and Vanity – Two plates are issued. For Trailers, the Clerk will discard the second plate.

D. Plate Fees: An Auto Home Normal (AHN) plate is charged a $50 yearly fee. An Auto Home Reserved (AHR) plate is charged $70 ($50 annual fee plus a $20 special plate fee). An Auto Home Vanity (AHV) plate is charged $100 ($50 annual fee plus a $50 special plate fee).

If the customer registers the vehicle after October 1, the registration fee will be half the initial registration fee. The special plate fee will remain the same.

E. Expiration Date: Auto Home plates expire annually on November 30.


A. Definition:  Trailer plates are issued to any vehicle or object on wheels and having no motive power of its own, but which is drawn by or used in combination with, a motor vehicle. It shall not include a pole dolly or pole dickey, so called, nor a pair of wheel commonly used as an implement for other purposes than transportation, or a portable, collapsible or separate two wheel tow dolly limited only to the purpose of transporting or towing a registered vehicle, nor farm machinery or implements when used in connection with the operation of a farm or estate, nor any vehicle when towed behind a farm tractor and used in connection with the operation of a farm or estate.

Camper plates may also be issued to vehicle which meet the definition of House Trailer (a house trailer has no motor power and is equipped for human habitation — includes bathroom and sink facilities.) These vehicles are not to be used to transport property other than that property used for human habitation or camping purposes. A four wheel tow dolly, when used in conjunction with a tractor/trailer combination, must be registered as a semi-trailer. Trailer weight is always rounded up to the nearest thousand pounds.

B. Plate Types: There are two types of trailer plates.

Trailer Normal (Plate Type: TRN) – Trailer Normal plates consist of four to six numbers.

Trailer Reserved (Plate Type: TRR) – Trailer Reserved plates consist of three number or less or a combination of letter and numbers (first two digits may be letters TL, TT, TR).

C. Plates Issued: Trailer Normal and Reserved – One plate is issued.

D. Plate Fees: A Trailer Normal plate fee is based on the weight of the trailer at the rate of $20 per 1,000 pounds. A Trailer Reserved plate is charged the same registration fee as the Trailer Normal plus a $20 special plate fee.

E. Expiration Date: Trailer plates expire annually on November 30. All trailer registration fees are reduced by 1/2 on or after September 1. NOTE: if the total gross weight of a trailer, which is the combined weight of the trailer and its cargo, is 3,000 lbs or less, a MA title is not required.

Homemade Trailers

Builders of homemade trailers with a gross weight of more than 3,000 lbs. must apply for a MA Assigned Vehicle Identification Number.

The gross weight of a new or used trailer is determined by the manufacturer and will be listed on the trailer’s certificate of Origin and on the trailer itself. The gross weight of a homemade trailer is determined by the builder of the trailer.

NOTE: Log Splitter of Wood chipper

A trailer registration plate may be issued fi the log splitter of wood chipper and trailer are permanent components of one another (i.e.- non-detachable). However, a trailer registration may not be issued to a log splitter or wood chipper by itself (i.e.- the unit is not permanently attached to a trailer). If the log splitter or wood chipper is detachable, the trailer carrying the log splitter must be insured and registered.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Discounts

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Discounts

The search is on for Massachusetts Auto Insurance Discounts. There are so many different insurance companies that offer different discount programs. The trick is to find which company best suits your needs and your wallet.

For example: Are you a student? Certain companies offer larger good student discounts than other companies. Are you married? Companies offer different multi-car discounts. Do you own a home, condominium or do you rent?

We’re here to you find the right Massachusetts Auto Insurance Discounts for you:

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

Companies offer big discounts if they have both your home and auto insurance. Discounts available are anywhere from 10% – 25% on the auto & 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. MassAutoQuote is powered and operated by Johnson & Rohan Insurance. Call, click or stop by and we’ll show you what great rates and service feels like.

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.

Some available discounts:

  • 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!

Massachusetts consumers have long been neglected compared to insurance programs that have been available to out of state auto insurance policy holders.

Some Massachusetts Discount programs include:

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

Discount Double Check Annual Insurance Review

annual discount double check insurance review

You’ve come to the right place. MassAutoQuote offers our free, Massachusetts Discount Double Check Annual Insurance Review. Like a good spring cleaning, visit, phone, or exchange e-mails with us to review your insurance coverage!

It is important to understand your insurance coverage.

We are here to help.

Some questions to ask us:
  • Do we carry adequate liability limits? Limits should equal, at least, your net worth.
  • Should we carry Umbrella coverage? (Yes.)
  • What is the value of our vehicle? If the value is low, should we still carry collision coverage?
  • Are all new drivers included?
  • Do other companies offer lower premiums?
  • If our car loan is paid off, should we remove the lienholder on our policy?
  • Are we getting all available discounts?
  • Should you have Special Items, such as jewelry, antiques, silverware, or collectibles scheduled onto your policy?
  • Do we have enough life insurance?
  • Would you like us to quote your business insurance? Johnson & Rohan Insurance has great commercial markets.

Call us for your annual, insurance review, explanation of coverage, and discount double-check.

Massachusetts Insurance Accident Surcharge Appeal

Massachusetts Accident Surcharge Appeal

Massachusetts Surcharge Appeal

How did your winter go?

Were you found “at-fault” in a Massachusetts auto accident?

Were you involved in a weather related, slip and slide accident?

Have you received the surcharge notice? If so, this means your insurance company determined you are more than 50% at-fault in the accident and more than $500 was paid out in damages.

If you believe you are not more than 50% at-fault in the accident, then you should appeal the surcharge.

You should submit the written appeal (& non-refundabe $50) to the MA Board of Appeal within 30 days of receiving the surcharge notice.

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

The MA Board of Appeal tells us it is presently taking about 9 months before you will receive your hearing date.

Once you have received your hearing date you can: appear in person, submit a written statement, or select someone to appear on your behalf.

Appeal hearings are scheduled in: Boston, Brockton, Peabody, Plymouth, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, or Worcester.

Massachusetts Winter Driving Tips

Massachusetts Winter Driving Tips

With snow forecast in Massachusetts, MassAutoQuote offers some tips to keep in mind when driving in winter conditions:

Beware of snow banks! Go slow when pulling in and out of parking lots or side streets. Drive slow, in general, because you can’t see vehicles driving in and out of parking lots and side streets. Road are narrower and driving more harrowing. Be careful.

Be prepared.  Have your mechanic check your car’s battery, brakes, fluid levels and tire wear.  Keep your gas tank more than half full- it lowers the chance of freezing and you’ll also avoid running out of gas if your stuck in a traffic jam on 128.

Take care in pulling out.  Your car reacts differently to accelerating on snow, make sure there is plenty of time/space to get your car up to speed.  Remember other vehicles may have trouble braking because of the conditions.

Back your car into the driveway when possible.  You’ll have better vision when pulling out.

Be aware of walkers or joggers on the street. When sidewalks are impassable, die hard joggers and dog walkers are forced to venture onto the street for a clearer path.   Keep an eye out for them!

When waiting to make a left hand turn, keep the wheels of your car pointed forward.  If your wheels are turned to the left and you are rear-ended, your car will be pushed into the path of on-coming traffic.

Braking.  If your car does not have anti-lock brakes and you start to skid, pump the brakes to gain control of the skidding.  If your car has anti-lock brakes, slam and hold down the brakes to allow the anti-lock system to take over.

When you must travel during a storm, notify others of your estimated time of arrival and your intended route.

If stuck, stay in the car and wait for help.  Run the engine and heater sparingly.  Also make your exhaust pipe is clear from snow and ventilate your car to prevent carbon monoxide build up.

If stuck in a storm, preserve your energy.  Have food (energy bars, trail mix, beef jerky) in your car.   They will provide your body with energy to produce its own heat.  Have water available to prevent dehydration.  Don’t eat snow, it lowers your body temperature- if necessary, melt it first.

Prepare a Winter Driving Kit and leave it in your trunk.  Your kit should include an extra pair of gloves, blankets, an ice scraper, food basics (energy bars, trail mix or beef jerky work well), water or energy drink.  An affordable car battery- air compressor can provide a battery charge or refill a flat tire.

Driver New to Winter Driving?  Find an open location with wintry conditions and let the inexperienced driver practice accelerating and braking on snow.  Your car will behave differently on snow and ice and a little practice can make a big difference.

Massachusetts Move Over Law

move over law

The Massachusetts move over law requires all drivers to move one lane over while approaching a vehicle on the side of the road. If you can’t move over one lane then you must drastically reduce your speed.

This applies not only to Police, Fire, and Ambulances and Tow trucks, but also to DOT workers, Utility workers, municipal workers, and disabled vehicles on the road.

There is no downside to keeping distance or reducing your speed while passing stopped vehicles on the roadside. When we don’t, people get hurt.

“Every year about 23 roadside workers and first responders (one every two weeks) lose their life at the roadside and hundreds more are injured while tending to disabled vehicles.”

“Despite being passed in all 50 states, 71 percent of Americans are unaware of Move Over laws that require drivers to reduce their speed and switch lanes to protect these workers.” (NHTSA)

AAA publishes each state’s move over law:


Drivers traveling in the same direction and approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, or tow or recovery vehicle with flashing lights must slow down to a safe speed and, if practicable, move to a non-adjacent lane.

Move Over Massachusetts!


Massachusetts Antique Vehicle Insurance

Massachusetts Antique Vehicle

What is an antique car or truck? Under MA antique license plate rules, an antique vehicle is a car manufactured at least 25 years ago, which is maintained for use in exhibitions, parades and other public events. If you are interested in Antique Plates there are certain rules to be aware of.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles designates antique plates as “restricted.” “Restricted to those vehicles over 25 years of age, restricted to test drives, movement of vehicles to and from repair locations, and public functions such as parades.”


  • Fill out and submit an insurance company stamped, RTA form.
  • Submit previous, signed over, certificate of title.


The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires original, signed over title, antique vehicle application, RTA form (Registration and Title Application) and check payable to the “RMV.” Costs should be: $75.00 for new MA title, $50.00 for plates and 6.25% sales tax.The Registry of Motor Vehicles charges an annual fee of $50.00 for antique plates. The also charge $50.00 for year of manufacture plates.


  • Classic Cars
  • Hot Rods
  • Antique Cars
  • Modified Cars
  • Street Rods
  • Exotic Cars
  • Lowrider
  • Classic Motorcycles


You can drive your car:

  • Holidays
  • Parades
  • Weekends

Your collectible car needs to be and must be stored inside in a secure locked garage or structure.

Insurance companies will not cover damage to antique vehicles done due to racing.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance: It Pays to Shop Around

Massachusetts auto quote comparison

Massachusetts Auto Insurance: It Pays to Shop Around offers their consumer Frequently Asked Questions- FAQs

Why Does Competition Matter?

Competition matters because you may be able to get different insurance products or packages for different prices if you shop around. Rates and policies will no longer be the same for all companies.

In recent years, all rates for automobile insurance have been set by the Commissioner of Insurance under what was known as the “fix-and-establish” system. Under this system, if you requested a premium quote for the same coverage from different companies, each of those companies would give you the same price for that coverage – unless you were eligible for a group discount.

Will My Auto Insurance Coverages Change?

The minimum coverages for a basic policy are still mandated by Massachusetts law. The types of coverage you are required to purchase by law are called compulsory insurance, and will not change. The types of additional coverage you may purchase voluntarily, known as optional insurance, may vary from company to company.

More Options

Although the minimum limits and basic coverages will not change, insurers will now be permitted to offer additional coverages, higher limits, and lower or waived deductibles. Therefore, you may have more choices available to you, and may want to shop around if there are additional coverages you wish to purchase.

Will Surcharges Change?

Under the prior “fix-and-establish” system, Massachusetts law requires that companies apply specific surcharges for certain accidents and traffic violations. This system of surcharges is called the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP). Under the new system, insurance companies will be permitted to develop their own rules – known as merit rating plans – to determine if and how they will impose surcharges on your premium for at-fault accidents and traffic violations. These new merit rating plans will be subject to approval by the Commissioner of Insurance. Companies may also choose to use the existing SDIP for a merit rating plan.

Merit Rating Board

In the competitive rating system, insurers will still be required to report all at-fault accidents to the Merit Rating Board (MRB). The MRB is the state agency that maintains operator driving history records. The MRB will continue to provide this driving history information to automobile insurers.

Why Is Auto Insurance So Expensive In Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has some of the highest auto insurance costs in the country. Many factors contribute to these high costs. The state is densely-populated with the majority of its drivers living in urban areas where accidents are more likely to happen. In addition, Massachusetts’ higher cost of living means higher costs for medical care, auto repairs and litigation costs.

The bottom line is that Massachusetts has more property damage and bodily injury claims per vehicle than nearly every other state. As the number of claims increases, so does the cost of insurance. When claims decrease, insurance rates decrease as well.

Will Competition Lower My Premium?

Competition is designed to encourage insurance companies to offer their lowest possible premium to each driver. Although the majority of Massachusetts policyholders will probably benefit from reduced rates under the new system, the amount that you pay will depend on your individual risk factors. Examples of individual risk factors include your driving record, the territory in which you live, and other rating factors approved by the Commissioner. While every policy is different, maintaining a clean driving record should lower your premium.

What Types and How Much Coverage Should I Buy?

Mandatory Coverage

There are several types of compulsory insurance that you are required to purchase under Massachusetts law. These coverages are:

” Bodily Injury to Others, with a mandatory limit of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
” Personal Injury Protection (PIP), with a mandatory limit of $8,000
” Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto, with a mandatory limit of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
” Property Damage, with a mandatory limit of $5,000

Optional Coverage

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also wish to purchase additional types of coverage, or increased limits on the types of compulsory insurance listed above. You should consult with an agent or other insurance professional for help in determining what types and levels of coverage you need. All companies will offer the following coverages that you may wish to buy:

” Increased limits for bodily injury to others
” Increased limits for bodily injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured auto.
” Coverage for medical payments beyond the mandatory PIP coverage
” Collision coverage that pays for damage to your car no matter who causes the accident. Most companies will allow you to choose from a range of deductibles.
” Comprehensive coverage that pays for damage to you car caused by events such as fire, theft or vandalism. Like collision, companies will allow you to choose from a range of deductibles.
” Coverage for substitute transportation while your car is being repaired from a collision or comprehensive claim.
” Coverage for towing and labor when your car breaks down.

Each of these coverages is subject to important limitations and exclusions.

In addition to the standard options, automobile insurers are allowed to offer additional optional coverages that you may want. Some of the options expand existing coverages or offer benefits that were never available in Massachusetts. You will want to learn more about all of the options available to you from each company in which you are interested.

For a more detailed description of auto insurance and available coverages, please visit the DOI website, or review the Division’s Ways To Save On Your 2008 Automobile Insurance consumer guide.

How Should I Shop For Auto Insurance?

First, you should determine what types of coverage you need, and how much of each coverage type you need. Once you have decided what you need, you should then get premium quotes for that coverage from several companies. Some companies market insurance through agents, while others sell directly through employee salespersons. Therefore, you will be able to obtain multiple quotes by working with one or more agents, or by contacting each direct writer separately, either by telephone or online. To make sure you get the best possible premium for the coverage you need, you should make sure that each of the premium quotes you receive are for the identical coverage you wish to purchase.

For a current list of all insurance companies offering auto insurance in Massachusetts, please visit the DOI’s website .

Where Can I Get Premium Quotes?

There are several ways in which you can obtain premium quotes, including working with agents or contacting insurance companies directly.


Agents may represent one or more insurance companies, and will be able to provide you with premium quotes for the companies they represent. Exclusive agents represent only one company or group of affiliated companies, and will only be able to give you a quote for that company or its affiliates. Independent agents often represent several companies, and will be able to provide you with premium quotes from the companies they represent. If you get quotes through agents, be sure to find out which companies they represent and which ones have given you insurance quotes.

Direct Writers

You may obtain a quote directly from an insurance company by contacting the company online or over the telephone.

How Should I Decide Where To Purchase My Policy?

Once you have determined the appropriate types and levels of coverage to fit your needs, you can obtain quotes from different insurance companies directly or through agents in order to find the best price. Make sure that all of the premium quotes you receive from each company are for the same coverage. Once you have determined which companies are offering the best price for the coverage you need, you may wish to speak with family members, friends and neighbors to learn about their claim experiences. Remember that while price is certainly an important factor in deciding which insurance company to choose, it is not the only factor. Price, discounts, claims handling, the location of an agent or direct writer, or the financial health of the company are all legitimate factors you might consider in buying insurance. Ultimately, you must decide which features are most important to you.

What Are The Different Ways Companies Sell Auto Insurance?

Insurance companies generally sell insurance either through agents or direct marketing. Agents can be either independent or exclusive. Buying insurance through agents or direct marketing companies each has advantages and disadvantages. Policies are marketed, sold and serviced differently depending on which method you choose.


Most insurance companies in Massachusetts currently sell insurance through agents. Agents represent one or more insurance companies. When you receive a quote from an agent, make sure you find out exactly which companies each agent has obtained quotes from so you can be certain you have obtained quotes from a variety of companies.

Independent agents generally represent several insurance companies. While independent agents may represent several companies, these agents generally do not represent all the insurance companies offering auto insurance in Massachusetts. Exclusive agents represent only one insurance company. Whether you are dealing with independent or exclusive agents, it is a good idea to make sure that you have obtained quotes from a variety of companies.

Direct Marketing

Some insurance companies sell insurance through direct marketing – meaning that they sell insurance directly to consumers without the involvement of agents. Direct marketing companies typically sell and service insurance policies over the internet, through the mail, or through 1-800 telephone numbers.


How Do Companies Determine My Premium?

Insurance companies group you with other individuals who share your general risk characteristics – such as the number of years driving experience. To calculate your individual premium, the company uses a base rate for your group, then adjusts it to reflect your individual risk factors and appropriate discounts for which you are eligible. In determining your actual premium, insurance companies may consider factors such as your years of driving experience, the number and type of your at-fault accidents, the number and type of your traffic violations, the vehicle you drive, and the place where you garage that vehicle. Insurance companies may also consider other risk factors if those factors are relevant to risk and approved by the Commissioner.

Prohibited Underwriting and Rating Factors.

Even though the system is changing, under the rates companies are offering as of April 1, 2008, insurance companies are prohibited from using certain factors for either underwriting or rating in Massachusetts. Underwriting is the company’s process for deciding whether or not to voluntarily accept you as a risk. Rating is the company’s process for determining the amount of your actual premium. For underwriting, companies are prohibited from using sex, marital status, race, creed, national origin, religion, age, occupation, income, principal place of garaging, education, and home ownership. For rating, companies are prohibited from using sex, marital status, race, creed, national origin, religion, age (except for drivers who are 65 years or older), occupation, income, education, and home ownership. Insurance companies are also prohibited from using credit information from consumer reporting agencies for either underwriting or rating.

If an insurance company uses any of these prohibited factors in connection with either the underwriting or rating of a policy offered as of April 1, 2008, you should file a consumer complaint with the Division of Insurance.

What Should I Do If My Rate Goes Up?

First: Make sure that your rate has really increased. Compare the types of coverages and coverage limits on your policy last year to the coverages and coverage limits you’ve received quotes for, and make sure they are the same. Also remember that any change to your policy will affect your premium. Changing your vehicle, adding or changing drivers, or changing your cars garaging location may all increase your premium.

Second: Consider whether you are classified as a high-risk driver, such as one with multiple at-fault accidents and/or traffic violations, or one with less than six years experience. If you are, the increase in your premium may be the result of these factors.

Third: Contact your agent or your insurance company for an explanation of why your rates have increased.

Fourth: Once you have learned the reason for your rate increase, you may want to obtain premium quotes from other insurance companies until you are certain you have found the lowest premium for the coverage you want. Remember that if you have had a change in driving history, such as an at-fault accident or traffic violation, your premium is likely to go up in a competitive rating market the same as it would have increased under the “fix-and-establish” system.

What Types of Discounts Are Available?

There are a variety of discounts insurance companies may offer. Some discounts are required by law, such as for passive restraint systems or other safety features, anti-theft devices, and drivers who are 65 years or older. Other discounts are optional, and may include ones offered to members of a group program, persons qualifying for advanced driver-training, or multi-car discounts. Whether insurance companies are required to offer a particular discount by law or simply choose to offer it, the amount of those discounts may vary somewhat from company to company. When shopping for your new policy, be sure to find out what types of discounts each company offers, and how much each of those discounts reduce your premium.

Menu Title