12 Nov 2019 How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

Whether you’ve lived here your whole life, or are just moving to the Bay State, this seems to be a question on everyone’s minds. And we understand why! Nobody wants to pay more for Massachusetts auto insurance than they have to. 

At Berry Insurance, we’re asked this question multiple times a day. And over the course of almost 100 years in business, the answer has never changed.

“It depends.”

Sorry! We know that’s not exactly what you wanted to hear. But the fact is, there are many factors that will affect the cost of car insurance in Massachusetts. Even if you and your best friend Dave drive the exact same car and live on the exact same street, you still won’t have the exact same price for auto insurance. 

Frustrating, we know! So let’s talk more about what all those factors are, and how they will affect the cost of auto insurance for you.

How Your Personal Situation Affects the Cost of Auto Insurance

You might be wondering why insurance companies have to make things so personal! But when you think about it, it makes sense. For example, where you live could impact the likelihood of having an accident and could also impact the overall cost of a claim.   

Where You Live

In the insurance world, we call this the “garaging” of the vehicle. But when we say garaging, we don’t actually mean whether or not you have a garage. (We get asked that a lot too.) 

What this means is the zip code where your car is parked most nights or the majority of the time. Where you live affects the price of auto insurance due to things like traffic congestion and rate of theft, amongst others. For example, living in the city could make you more susceptible to theft or damage, where the suburbs might not. 

Your Driving Record

Massachusetts follows a Safe Driver Insurance Plan, which is a point system used to assign individuals a score based on their previous driving experience. If you’ve got a clean driving record – one without any accidents, tickets or violations – than you’ll be priced the best. If that clean record has been for 6 or more years, you’ll qualify for an Excellent Driver Plus rating, or if its been for 5 years, you’ll qualify for the Excellent Driver rating. 

Any violations on your record will impact your insurance costs for a period of 6 years. After 3 years, the points against your record will decrease each year until the 6 years is completed. 

Here’s an example: Let’s say you had a minor at-fault accident on 9/15/2017. Your auto insurance policy renewed on 5/8/2018, which is when you will first be surcharged.

Police PeriodSurcharge Points
5/8/2018 – 5/8/20193 points
5/8/2019 – 5/8/20203 points
5/8/2020 – 5/8/20213 points
5/8/2021 – 5/8/20222 points
5/8/2022 – 5/8/2023Excellent Driver Rating (98)
5/8/2023 – 5/8/2024Excellent Driver Plus rating (99)

Note: Some traffic violations that occur out-of-state are reported on your Massachusetts driving record. So be sure to obtain a copy of your driving record to see how they may affect you.

How Much You Drive

The amount of miles you put on your car each year is another factor considered in the cost of auto insurance. 

If you drive your car 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, to and from work, for personal use, vacations and more, you are at a higher risk of having an accident or damage to your vehicle than someone who only uses their car on the weekends and takes public transit during the week. 

Tip: Many insurance companies offer discounts for low-mileage use, so be sure to inquire about this opportunity to save money! For example, with one company we work with, you could be eligible for a 10% discount if you drive less than 5,000 miles annual or a 5% discount if you drive less than 7,500 miles annually.

What You Use the Vehicle For

If you are using a personally-owned vehicle for personal use and driving to/from work, then you’ll have the best pricing. If you use your personal vehicle for business purposes, or for ride sharing, etc. then your cost of car insurance will increase.

But what if you don’t actually own a vehicle? You may still need car insurance in Massachusetts, even if you don’t own a vehicle. This is called a Named Non-Owner Insurance policy.

Who You Allow to Drive Your Car

Will it just be just you or perhaps a spouse driving the vehicle? Do you have any roommates or family that use it often? How about young kids – recently licensed or away at college? In Massachusetts, the law requires that all “household members” – anyone that lives with you and has a license to drive – must be listed as a driver on your auto insurance policy. 

The “principal operator” is the person who drives the vehicle the most, and the person whose driving record will be primarily considered when pricing the insurance for that vehicle. A “deferred operator” is someone who may occasionally use the vehicle, or has access to using the vehicle, but has their own personal vehicle available to them.

Teenagers with permits are not required to be listed as drivers on the auto insurance policy, but once they are licensed, they are required. Kids away at school who won’t have access to your vehicle can be excluded by signing an “excluded operator” form. 

We may or may not recommend this though. We’ve seen situations where a child gets excluded from the policy while at school, but then comes home for a long weekend and uses the car. If this is even a remote possibility, it might not make sense to exclude them at all. That is just one example though, and we recommend having that conversation with your insurance agent to discuss your unique situation more.

Do You Have AAA?

Being a AAA member comes with many perks and it can also help you save on auto insurance. One insurance company in Massachusetts, Mapfre (formerly known as Commerce), will give you a discount by being an active AAA member. 

But one of the other features of AAA that is important is road-side assistance. Depending on your membership level, you may not need to add towing coverage on your car insurance policy, which is an immediate savings!

Are You a Member of any Associations?

Are you a Boston University alumni? Or a member of the Massachusetts State Police? 

Many associations have secured group discount pricing through insurance companies. Make sure to discuss any and all associations you are a part of to see if it will help you lower the cost of your car insurance.

How You Plan to Pay

Yep, even this can affect the cost of auto insurance. 

If you choose to pay in monthly installments, you will want to factor in an additional $5-10 a month more in billing fees incurred from the insurance company issuing you a monthly bill.

If you agree to pay automatic withdrawals each month, some insurance companies will significantly reduce or even waive those fees. 

But if you pay your policy in full, many insurance companies will give you a discount on your policy premium. A “paid in full discount” could save you anywhere from 7-12%! So if you have the cash available, paying in full can help lower your costs tremendously! 

How Your Vehicle Specifications Affect the Cost of Auto Insurance

Your Vehicle

Every vehicle has an assigned rating factor due to its average cost of repair, safety features, claims history, availability of parts, etc. The year, make and model also will all affect the cost of auto insurance – which makes sense, as newer, higher-end vehicles would be more expensive to repair or replace. For example, many Audi and BMWs are usually rated higher due to availability and cost of parts, as opposed to say a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. 

Safety Features

If your car has airbags, automatic seat belts, an alarm, LoJack, OnStar or other safety features installed, this will help you reduce the overall cost of your insurance.

How Your Policy Coverage(s) Affects the Cost of Auto Insurance

Coverages & Limits

A Massachusetts auto insurance policy is made up of 12 different coverage parts. And Massachusetts state law requires you to carry the following 4 parts and limits on your car insurance:

  • Part 1 – Bodily Injury to Others (minimum of $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident): This coverage will pay for the medical expenses of someone injured in a car accident which you caused.
  • Part 2 – Personal Injury Protection (PIP) ($8,000 per person)
  • Part 3 – Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto ($20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident); and 
  • Part 4 – Damage to Someone Else’s Property ($5,000 per accident)

Buying an auto policy with the minimum required state limits outlined above is like walking around with only your underwear on in the winter. You’ve got coverage, but not nearly enough of what you need. 

You might be thinking, if you wouldn’t have enough coverage, then why did the state choose these amounts as the minimum required? Honestly, we have no idea. But we’ve seen enough accidents to know that the minimum just doesn’t cut it today.

Other coverages available to you are:

  • Part 5 – Optional Bodily Injury to Others: This coverage will pay for the medical expenses of someone injured in a car accident which you caused or in an accident caused by anyone else using your car with your permission.
  • Part 6 – Medical Payments
  • Part 7 – Collision
  • Part 8 – Limited Collision
  • Part 9 – Comprehensive
  • Part 10 – Substitute Transportation
  • Part 11 – Towing & Labor
  • Part 12 – Bodily Injury Caused by an Underinsured Auto

Your choice of coverages and limits for each of these 12 parts will dictate how much or little you pay for car insurance. But guess what? 

Higher limits don’t always mean you pay more! 

Yes, you read that right. Many insurance companies will view you as a more responsible client, and thereby less of an “insurance risk” if you choose higher limits, so they offer a discounted rate. 

Deductibles

There are a number of deductible options available on your policy. Choosing higher deductibles means that in an accident, you will be responsible for more of the upfront repair costs. But it also means that you’ll save on your insurance premium.

Policy Endorsements

Each insurance company can offer their own set of policy endorsements or enhancements of coverage. These are often extra features or coverages, or higher limits that can be purchased in addition to the typical 12 coverage parts. 

For example, if you are buying a new car with a loan, you may opt to purchase “GAP” coverage to protect you for the difference between the actual cash value and the loan balance of a vehicle that has been in an accident and deemed a total loss. 

Policy Credits

Will you be adding a car to an existing policy? If so, you might be eligible for a multi-car discount. Do you have any other policies with the same insurance company – say a homeowners or renters policy? If so, you could be eligible for a multi-policy discount. Are you over the age of 65? Yup, that’s a discount too. 

There are many discounts available to help lower the cost of car insurance in Massachusetts. Be sure you are taking advantage of them all by reviewing them with your insurance agent. 

Ready to find out how much car insurance will cost YOU?

So now that we’ve exhausted all the factors that affect the cost of car insurance in Massachusetts, you can see why answering the price question is never an easy one. There are a lot of factors and a lot of personalization that is involved in determining what your cost for auto insurance will be. 

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • $100,000/$300,000 liability limits for a 2018 minivan garaged in Uxbridge, MA with a SDIP of 99: $1,157
  • $250,000/$500,000 liability limits for a 2013 sport utility vehicle garaged in Lexington, MA with a SDIP of 99: $759
  • $100,000/$300,000 liability limits for a 2018 sport utility vehicle in Norton, MA with a SDIP of 04: $2,970

As you can see from the above examples, the cost of auto insurance isn’t cut and dry, and certainly isn’t one size fits all. 

When you work with Berry Insurance, we’ve got the experience you need to identify not only all the factors that affect the cost, but also all the factors that can create cost savings! 

We’d be happy to review all your options and show you how to obtain the best auto insurance price for your needs. Fill out the form below to get in touch today.

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