Top 8 Auto Insurance Claims in Massachusetts (And What to do if They Happen to You)
Your auto insurance policy should protect you for any accident or claim you may encounter on the road. If you are reviewing your current auto policy or looking to build a new one, it can be a good idea to look at the most common claims drivers see to know what coverages you should add.
At Berry Insurance, we’re used to protecting drivers for anything the open road may throw their way. Whether a puddle hiding a pothole wrecked your car's suspension or a hail storm shattered your windshield, we’ve seen it all!
Read on to learn about some of the most common auto claims we see in Massachusetts, how your insurance covers them, and what you can do to avoid them in the future.
1. Rear-end collisions
Prone to occur during heavy traffic on highways, rear-end collisions rank as one of the most common auto accidents drivers will encounter. Typically, you will be held at fault if you are the driver that caused the accident, in this case being the one who rear ended the other vehicle.
Your auto policy would protect you in the event of rear-end crashes whether or not you are at fault if you have collision coverage on your policy, an optional coverage that covers numerous types of collision based accidents. While collision is not a required coverage on auto policies in Massachusetts, Berry Insurance recommends it for all of our clients, especially considering how common these types of accidents are.
Most rear-end crashes occur when you are driving too fast, fail to leave space between your vehicle and the driver in front of you, and are distracted at the wheel. Avoiding rear-end collisions requires prioritizing safety behind the wheel and avoiding tailgating, making sure to keep a enough distance behind other vehicles to give you enough time to brake, especially during inclement weather.
2. Parking lot collisions
It can be difficult to see behind you when backing up your car, especially when you are parked next to other cars blocking your view. Dented bumpers and crashes are frequent occurrences in parking lots, either through two cars backing up into each other from opposite spots or one backing into another driving by.
The person held accountable for the crash is not as cut and dry as rear-end collisions tend to be, and there may need to be investigation into the accident to establish which drivers insurance provider will pay for the claim. Accidents of this type would only be covered if the driver has collision coverage on their policy.
The best way to avoid collisions in parking lots is to take it slow and be vigilant in checking your surroundings. If you are the one backing up, be sure to check around your car and the parking lot lane before getting in your vehicle and not to solely rely on any rear view cameras you have.
3. Animal collisions
Animals can be an unpredictable cause of many auto accidents. Everything from deer, squirrels, racoons, and many others are known to be frequently involved in or cause car accidents. This can especially become a problem in New England from October through December, when animals such as deer and moose enter their mating seasons.
Most animal-related auto accidents occur when your vehicle hits an animal or trying to avoid hitting one causes you to serve into another vehicle or object. While hitting another vehicle would be covered under collision coverage, hitting an animal or swerving into another object to avoid one would be covered under comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy. Both collision and comprehensive will typically be optional coverages that can be added to your policy, unless your vehicle has a lien which would require both coverages.
While it can be hard to prevent animal collisions, drivers should be aware that most animal related accidents occur at dawn and dusk, when animals are primarily active. This is also when it’s darker and harder for drivers to see, making it important to remember to go slow and be alert when driving to give yourself enough time to respond safely.
Wind, hail, or other weather-related damages often rank as some of the most common auto insurance claim drivers will experience.
This is another instance where comprehensive coverage on your policy will come in handy, as it helps pay for damages made to your vehicle from non-crash-related incidents. While not a required coverage on a Massachusetts auto policy, comprehensive can help cover vehicle damages caused by floods, hurricanes, hail, and numerous others.
As weather damages can often be random and hard to plan for, the best way to avoid potential claims is by limiting driving or driving cautiously during severe storms. To learn more about what types of water and weather damages are covered by your auto policy, check out this helpful guide: Is Water Damage Covered by Car Insurance?
5. Theft & vandalism
Coming back to your car only to find that it has been spray painted, keyed, broken into, or is missing entirely can be frustrating to say the least. Drivers are often surprised to learn how common car theft and vandalism can be, even in areas with lower crime rates.
If you find that your car has been burglarized or vandalized, know that you would be protected if you have comprehensive coverage on your policy. If your vehicle is instead stolen and cannot be recovered, you will be paid the replacement value under your comprehensive coverage, minus your deductible. In both cases, it’s important to file a police report of the incident.
While crimes such as this can often be random, it is still wise to deter any would-be criminals in any way you can. Making sure your doors are locked and parking close to other cars/stores when using parking lots or garages can help in making your car a less desirable target. Installing anti-theft alarms systems or GPS tracking could help protect your vehicle and possibly offer you some discounts on your auto insurance policy.
6. Pothole damages
Accidentally hitting a pothole will typically only cause minor damages to your vehicle's wheels or tires, but could also damage it’s alignment or suspension.
If any damages caused by potholes prove substantial enough to file a claim, it would only be covered if you have opted for collision coverage on your policy. After filing a claim under your collision coverage, your insurance would cover the repairs for pothole damages minus your deductible.
The best ways to avoid potholes when driving is to slow down, keep your eyes on the road for any signs of upcoming potholes, and avoid driving through puddles that may be obscuring one.
As potholes aren’t going anywhere any time soon, check out this article to learn more about how auto insurance covers pothole damages and how to submit a claim: Is Pothole Damage on my Car Covered by Insurance?
7. Windshield cracks
Cracks or chips in a vehicle's windshield are a common auto accident that many drivers will encounter. Simply driving down the highway or parking under the wrong tree could cause potential damage to your car's windshield.
While a common claim, repairs for windshield damage would only be covered if you opted for comprehensive coverage on your policy. Comprehensive coverage can be a wise investment on any policy to make sure you don’t have to pay out of pocket for expensive windshield repairs.
As windshield damages are often caused by rocks or debris thrown up in the air by other vehicles on the road, the best way to avoid them is by keeping your distance from cars or trucks. This is especially important in the winter months, as driving behind snow plows could throw rock salt at your windshield, causing large chips or cracks in the glass.
8. Single-car crash
Single-car crashes can involve your vehicle colliding with anything from street signs and trees to utility poles. Unless the accident is proven to be a result of mechanical failure on the part of your vehicle, you would likely be held at fault.
If you have collision coverage on your auto policy, it would cover the repairs from any potential single car-crashes.
If your vehicle hits a telephone or utility pole, it could become a potential safety hazard for yourself or others and proper authorities should be notified before you leave the scene. As insurers will often refer to police reports as evidence when processing claims, fleeing the scene of the accident without filing a police report could put your insurance claim at risk.
If you are contacted by the state's local government to compensate for the damages to the utility pole, you would need to file a liability claim with your insurance provider to avoid paying out of pocket for the repairs.
Keep your joyrides joyful
Being in a car accident of any type can be a scary and stressful situation for even the most confident drivers. Maintain your peace of mind on the open road by assuring your auto policy has you covered for any unpredictable moments when driving.
In the event that you find yourself in an auto accident, we advise you to fill out the MA Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report. This report will get sent to your insurance provider, local police, and the RMV.
Now that you know more about the top claims and coverages that protect you from them, you may be wondering how your current auto policy holds up. Learn more about when you should renew your current policy, or switch it entirely, here: How Often Should I Renew or Switch my Car Insurance?