Yes, Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state. That means that for certain types of insurance claims, drivers don’t need to prove an accident wasn’t their fault. But how does no-fault law work in MA? What kind of insurance should you get in a no-fault state? No-fault insurance can seem complicated, but we promise we’ll keep it simple.
Understanding MA no-fault law
Massachusetts is one of twelve no-fault states. With no-fault car insurance laws, insurance providers cover their customers’ medical bills and some other injury-related expenses (called “damages” in the insurance business) incurred during an accident, no matter whose fault the accident was.
State law requires Massachusetts drivers to have four types of insurance:
- Liability insurance for bodily injury to others
- Liability insurance for property damage you cause
- No-fault insurance, also known as personal injury protection (PIP) insurance,
- Uninsured motorist insurance
If you’re in an accident, your PIP insurance pays for your medical bills and injury-related expenses up to $8,000. “No fault” only addresses personal injuries. Whose insurance pays for property damage from an accident still depends on who’s legally at fault.
As is the case in most no-fault states, you can’t sue or file a claim against another driver in Massachusetts unless your car accident injuries are severe or expensive enough to meet the state’s criteria.
Understanding PIP insurance
MA PIP insurance covers up to $8,000 in losses (expenses) from car accidents, less any deductible you choose. PIP insurance does not apply to expenses related to property damage, including automotive damages incurred during an accident. PIP insurance covers:
- Medical bills from accident-related injuries.
- Up to 75 percent of lost income from accident-related injuries.
- “Replacement services”, e.g. hiring someone for chores or childcare your injuries prevent you from doing.
Under no-fault insurance laws, your PIP insurance and other insurance types won’t cover non-monetary damages. That includes “pain and suffering”. To file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident or pursue a lawsuit against them, you need to meet at least one of these criteria:
- You have at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses from the accident.
- Your injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, bone fractures or substantial loss of hearing or sight.
If your injuries meet the criteria, Massachusetts law lets you claim non-monetary damages, including pain and suffering.
The 51 percent rule in MA
For you to file a third-party liability claim or lawsuit against another driver, that driver must be at least 51 percent at fault for the accident. The state of Massachusetts modifies the compensation you can recover in your claim or suit by the percentage you are at fault. So, if an accident was 30 percent your fault and your injuries met the criteria, you could sue the other driver, but you could only recover 70 percent of your damages.
Your claims adjuster investigates the accident and determines the percentage of fault of everyone involved in the accident. For some types of accidents, one driver is always more than 50 percent at fault. For example, if you hit a parked car or failed to use your turn signal while changing lanes, the state will assume you are more than 50 percent at fault. That’s another good reason to “use yah blinkah”.
How do no-fault claims work?
When you’re in an accident, you and the other driver(s) involved each file a claim with your own insurance company. Your PIP coverage pays up to $8,000 of the expenses from your and your passengers’ injuries. The other driver’s PIP coverage pays for their injuries. As for property damage, if you’re at fault for the accident, your liability insurance covers damages incurred to property. If someone else is at fault, their liability insurance will cover the damage to your car or other property.
Making no-fault insurance work for you
In MA, you always need to have insurance that meets the state’s minimum requirements – otherwise, you can’t register your car and could get into legal trouble. Buying insurance can be stressful, but you’ll be happy you're insured if you’re involved in an accident. Because of MA no-fault insurance laws, your PIP insurance will cover your medical expenses without making you prove the accident wasn’t your fault.
If you need more help figuring out no-fault insurance in MA or want a quote on a policy that meets your needs and the MA state minimums, contact Surround Insurance.