Auto Accidents

Auto AccidentThe Massachusetts Division of Insurance provides the following information in their Consumer Guide for motorists involved in an accident:

Three simple steps can make a real difference in collecting all of the relevant information in the event of an accident:

  1. Keep the following items in your glove compartment – a disposable camera, a first aid kit, a tape measure, and blank police reports or accident diagrams.
  2. Note all participants and witnesses at the scene including their name, address, contact information, and insurers regardless of whether or not anyone was injured.
  3. File reports with the local police and your insurer promptly after the accident.

These easy steps will allow you to make a contribution to limiting the cost of fraud to all insurers, and thereby hold down rates for all consumers. In addition, you will be far more likely to be satisfied with the handling of your claim.

If you suspect fraudulent conduct on the part of anyone involved in your motor vehicle accident or your insurance claim – including other operators, any passengers, the repair shop, the appraiser, or any employee of the insurer – please call the Insurance Fraud Bureau hotline at 1-800-32-FRAUD. Another number to remember is the Governor’s Auto Theft Strike
Force Hotline at 1-800-HOT-AUTO when you have information about an auto theft. You will be able to speak confidentially with an investigator about your suspicions.

Finally, be sure that your auto body repair shop is registered with the Division of Standards 1-617-727-3480.

How Auto Accidents Affect Your Rates

Automobile insurance typically uses your “driving experience” as a factor in developing the annual premium you pay. This does not necessarily mean you will pay more after having an accident. The Massachusetts Division of Insurance provides the following information in their Consumer Guide:

Under the new competitive market 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. For example, an insurance company’s Merit Rating Plan might offer an accident forgiveness option where surcharge points will not be applied for your first at-fault accident under certain circumstances.

An insurance company’s Merit Rating Plan shall not:

  • Use any at-fault accident or traffic violation that is greater than 6 years old from the policy effective date, or
  • Increase premium for at-fault accidents or traffic violations for more than 5 years.

For more information on individual insurance company Merit Rating Plans, contact your Account Manager.

Insurers are required to determine if a driver is more than 50% at fault for an accident by applying the Standards of Fault (211 C.M.R. 74.00). These standards are common accident types under which you are presumed to be more than 50% at fault. For example drivers are presumed to be more than 50% at fault when operating a vehicle which collides with the rear section of another vehicle.

If your company determines that you are at fault for an accident, it will send you a Surcharge Notice. This notice includes instructions for appealing the surcharge to the Board of Appeals at the Division of Insurance. Surcharge points remain on your driving record unless you successfully appeal the surcharge.

If you receive a Surcharge Notice naming the wrong operator, contact your Account Manager. Your insurer will rescind the incorrect notice and reissue the notice to the correct operator.

Under the new competitive system, insurers will still be required to report all at-fault accidents to the Merit Rating Board (MRB).

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