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Robbie Hoye

By: Robbie Hoye on March 19th, 2024

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How Do I Appeal My MA Insurance Surcharge?

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families

Getting hit with a surcharge after being involved in an auto accident or traffic violation can feel like the worst ending to an already terrible situation. Not only did you have to face potential damages to your vehicle, injuries, or legal ramifications - but now it can feel as if your insurance is punishing you. 

While surcharges are unfortunately not going anywhere, there may still be an option for drivers looking to appeal their surcharge if they believe it was wrongfully applied to their policy. 

At Berry Insurance, we understand that surcharges can be frustrating to any driver. While agents don’t have the authority to issue or remove surcharges (as that decision is made by your insurance company), we can still give you advice on what to do if you have been surcharged for an accident or infraction where you were not at fault. 

What are surcharges? 

First, let's review what surcharges are and why/when you can receive one on your policy. 

An auto insurance surcharge is a fee applied to your insurance premium by your insurance provider due to you demonstrating some degree of risky behavior as a driver. 

Surchargeable offenses usually include being found at least 50% at fault for an accident or traffic violation. This can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Rear-ending another driver
  • Speeding tickets
  • DUI
  • Traffic violations or failure to obey traffic laws 
  • Collision with a parked vehicle 
  • Collision while backing up

Events such as these are used by insurers to gauge the increased risk of insuring the driver, as they may cause more claims or losses in the future. Policyholders should note that surchargeable offenses tend to vary between states and insurance providers. 

How do surcharges affect my policy? 

Once the surcharge fee is applied to your policy, it will raise your premium payments moving forward. 

The amount you can expect to pay after a surcharge will depend on your insurance company and the severity of the event. In Massachusetts, each at-fault accident or traffic violation will have a specific surcharge point value applied to it. Your insurance premium will increase based on the amount of surcharge points you accumulate. 

Just like the amount, the length of time a surcharge will be on your policy will depend on your insurance provider, state, and cause of surcharge. In Massachusetts, drivers can typically expect the impact of surcharges to lessen after 3 years, provided there have not been any other accidents. 

It is possible for drivers to receive multiple surcharges on their policy at once, if they are involved in another at fault accident or surchargeable offense - meaning there will be an even greater impact on your premium, and potentially a policy non-renewal. 

For more information on surcharges and how you can best avoid them, read this article: How Surcharges Affect Auto Insurance.

Can I appeal surcharges? 

If you receive a surcharge on your policy when you truly were not at fault for an accident, you will have 30 days to file an appeal after receiving the at-fault accident determination notice. 

If you are successfully able to explain to the Board of Appeal that you are in fact not at fault for the surcharged accident, the surcharge can be removed from your driving history. 

What steps do I take to appeal a surcharge? 

In order to appeal a surcharge in Massachusetts, you first need to complete the appeal form located on the back of the surcharge notice you received. Once you complete this, mail it to the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal, along with the required $50 fee (addressing checks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). 

After mailing your appeal to the post office box designated on the appeal form, you should then receive a hearing notice detailing when your appeal hearing will be held. However, you may need to prepare to wait, as we’ve recently seen policyholders having to wait anywhere from 12-18 months to hear back regarding the scheduling of their hearing. 

For your hearing, you may choose to attend in person, send a selected representative to attend on your behalf, or submit a written statement at least 5 days prior to the hearing date. 

When attending a hearing or stating your case, it’s important for you to be as prepared as possible - providing any useful information or evidence that could help prove you were not at fault for the accident. 

This can include photos, documents, witness statements (in-person or written), weather conditions on the day of the accident (such as icy/snowy), and anything else that can help strengthen your case.

After the hearing, you can expect to receive the Board of Appeals decision in about 2-4 weeks. If you are not satisfied with their decision, you would need to appeal the decision to your county’s Superior Court within 30 days of receiving the Board of Appeals decision - there will be a $20 fee applied to this second appeal. 

If you win on appeal, the surcharge will be removed and your policy will be rerated. Also, you would receive a refund on fees you had to pay because of the surcharge. 

Should I appeal a surcharge if I have accident forgiveness on my policy? 

While having accident forgiveness on your auto insurance policy can potentially be a good way to not receive policy ramifications post accident, we would still advise you to appeal the surcharge if you were not at-fault. Since an at-fault accident will remain on your driving record and add points to your license, appealing the accident can help eliminate any negative repercussions - beyond the ones ignored through accident forgiveness. 

Also, accident forgiveness will only be eligible if you continue to have your insurance policy with the same company. This means that if you change companies or shop around, any accidents you did not appeal will affect your policies in the future. 

Dealing with surcharges

While it won’t necessarily be the quickest process, it’s good to know that drivers who were not at fault for an accident or infraction have the option to appeal surcharges and have them removed from their policy. 

Being involved in an accident can often feel frustrating and disorienting, making it important for any driver to be prepared for when they find themselves in that situation. To learn how you should respond and file a claim after being in an accident you were not at fault for, read this guide: What Should I Do After a Car Accident That’s Not My Fault?

If your appeal is unsuccessful but you’re still interested in other ways to reduce your premium, then read our list of the 13 ways you can save money on your auto insurance.