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Auto Insurance Bill of Rights Protects Consumers

On behalf of posted in car accidents on Monday January 17, 2011

All cars and trucks on Massachusetts roads must be covered by an auto insurance policy. Insurance protects drivers from having to front the costs of car accident injuries and property damages out of pocket. Instead, insurance allows drivers to protect against the losses stemming from a car accident by paying a regular fee, known as the premium. If involved in a car accident, the insured can pay the deductible and make an insurance claim for the injuries and property damage caused by the car or truck accident.

Because the world of insurance can seem very complicated, Massachusetts provides a Consumer Bill of Rights for Auto Insurance. If an insurance company violates the rights provided to everyone who seeks auto insurance or has auto insurance, the insured can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.

Insurance Company Can Only Deny or Cancel Insurance for Certain Reasons

Auto insurance may only be denied or canceled for certain reasons. In the case of a denial or cancellation, the insurance company must provide the consumer with notice of the reason. When requesting a quote for auto insurance, the consumer may not be denied coverage for the following reasons:

  • “Unfair discriminatory reasons”: Gender, race, national origin, marital status, religion, age, occupation, income, principal place of keeping the car, education and homeownership.
  • Credit history: An insurance company may not deny auto insurance coverage based on the consumer’s credit score or unfavorable credit history.

Auto insurance coverage may be denied for other reasons, but the consumer is entitled to receive notice of the reason for the denial. If the consumer is unable to obtain auto insurance because of legitimate reasons, the state provides an option called the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (MAIP).

When the insurance company decides to cancel an auto insurance policy, it can be very frustrating for the consumer. An auto insurance company may only cancel a policy in limited circumstances, including consumer fraud, driver’s license suspension or revocation, and failure to make premium payments after a certain time. The insured must receive 20 days notice of the cancellation. The insured also has a right to fight the cancellation with an appeal through the Board of Appeals.

Right to Know – Determination of “At-Fault” After Car Accident

The Massachusetts Bill of Rights also requires the insurance company to notify the insured if it concludes that the insured was “at-fault” in a car accident, truck accident or motorcycle wreck. While Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state, insurance companies still use fault determinations for the purpose of determining whose insurance company will pay a claim. The Merit Rating Board, the board responsible for determining an insured’s risk on the road, is also notified if the insured was determined to be more than 50 percent at fault and the circumstances of the car accident may affect future coverage.

While there are many more rights included in the Bill of Rights, it is important to know that the insured has obligations too. Those obligations are included in the insurance policy and vary based on the particular insurance company. The bottom line is that drivers are required to have auto insurance for protection in the event of a car accident. After a car accident, a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights in dealing with your insurance company.

Related Resource: MassGov “Massachusetts Consumer Bill of Rights for Automobile Insurance”

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