Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in Massachusetts
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To legally ride a motorcycle owned or leased in Massachusetts, you must maintain a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. Before you can ride on public ways the state requires you to be able to take financial responsibility in the event of an accident.
Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility
Maintaining liability insurance is the only way in this state that you can prove you could financially cover property damage or injury costs. You can easily purchase a policy with the minimum levels of motor vehicle insurance through an authorized Massachusetts insurance agent.
Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined
The Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) regulates all motorcycles, motorized bicycles, and motorized scooters. The following definitions should help when it comes to categorizing, but if you are still uncertain which one your bike falls under or whether you should specifically purchase a motorcycle insurance policy, contact the RMV at 857-368-8000 or (800) 858-3926.
- Motorcycle―Any motor vehicle designed to travel with no more than three wheels on the ground with a seat or saddle for the rider. This includes any bicycle with a motor or attached driving wheels.
- Motorized Bicycle―A pedal bicycle with a helper motor (or a bicycle with a motor but no pedals), a cylinder capacity not more than 50 cc, an automatic transmission, and the capability to travel at no more than 30 mph.
- Motorized Scooter―Any two-wheel tandem or three-wheel device with handlebars designed to be stood or sat upon by the rider. It can be propelled without human propulsion by an electric or gas-powered motor. This category does not include either of the aforementioned bikes or three-wheel motorized wheelchairs.
The state minimums for Massachusetts motorcycle riders include:
- Part One: Bodily injury to others―Minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
- Part Two: Personal injury protection―Pays up to $8,000 to you, passengers, pedestrians or anyone you allow to drive your vehicle
- Part Three: Bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto―Minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per
- Part Four: Damage to someone else’s property―Minimum $5,000 for property damage
In April of 2008, Massachusetts did away with the old fixed-and-established system, trading it for one that involves managed competition. That means that residents can now shop around for competitive rates.
You will want to start by researching the various types of coverage; getting the best rate will be easier if you are familiar with all the options out there. And, figure out how much you would like to protect your assets. If they have a high value, you might consider purchasing more coverage than what the state requires to fulfill its financial responsibility law.
Merit Rating Plans
With the old fixed-and-established system now replaced with managed competition, insurance providers do not have to apply certain surcharges for specific traffic violations and accidents. Instead they can develop their own merit rating plan―thereby adjusting insurance premiums based on driving records―and set surcharges and credits as a part of the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
This new system allows providers to determine whether they will impose surcharges for traffic violations and at-fault accidents (see the last section of this page) and apply discounts for good riding.
That does not mean though that they can use at-fault accidents or traffic violations against you that took place more than six years prior to the policy effective date. They also cannot increase your premium for at-fault accidents or traffic violations that are on your record for more than five years.
Safe Driver Insurance Plan
As we mentioned above, Massachusetts does not require providers to develop their own merit rating plan if they prefer to adopt the existing Safe Driver Insurance Plan instead. Under this plan, they can reward lower premiums to drivers with clean driving records, and they can increase premiums for those who have received traffic violations or have been involved in an at-fault accident (see the last section of this page).
For more info on this plan, visit the Merit Rating Board online or call (617) 351-4400.
How Coverage Affects Helmet Requirements
Not all states require a helmet, sometimes depending on how much insurance coverage you purchase. But that is not so in Massachusetts. Individuals must wear helmets approved by the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) when operating a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, or motorized scooter.
When you settle on a motorcycle policy, your insurance provider will give you proof of insurance. If it is a newly acquired bike, you will need to have the provider fill out, stamp, and sign an RMV-1 form (application) when you apply for registration.
This proof provided by the insurance company will display the names of the insurer and the insured, as well as:
- The effective and expiration dates of coverage.
- A description of your motorcycle, including the identification number.
- The limits of liability (or a document stating that your policy fulfills Massachusetts’s minimum liability insurance requirement).
Be sure you have the proof of insurance with the vehicle at all times. If you a peace officer pulls you over or if you are involved in an accident, you will need to show proof of financial responsibility.
Do not allow your insurance coverage to lapse or get caught with no proof of insurance. If you do, you could face a traffic citation. With the current managed-competition system, the accumulation of traffic violations on your record could mean an increase on you insurance premium. Your provider will adjust how much pay for a motorcycle policy depending on:
- Your driving record.
- The number and severity of at-fault accidents you were involved in (see below).
- Your traffic violations.
The state requires all Massachusetts insurance providers to report at-fault accidents and out-of-state driving records to the Merit Rating Board (the state agency that maintains driving records). If you would like more info on how this agency works and the surchargeable incidents it deals with see page 139 of the Driver Manual or visit the MRB online .
The state’s at-fault standards include:
- You collide with a lawfully or an unlawfully parked vehicle.
- You rear-end another vehicle.
- You have an out-of-lane collision.
- You fail to signal.
- You fail to proceed with due caution from a traffic control signal or sign.
- You have a collision on the wrong side of the road.
- You operate your motorcycle in the wrong direction.
- You collide at an uncontrolled intersection.
- You collide while backing.
- You collide while making a left turn or a U-turn across the travel path of a vehicle traveling in the same or opposite direction.
- You collide while leaving or exiting a parked position, a parking lot, an alley or a driveway.
- You have a single-vehicle collision.
- You fail to obey driving rules and regulations.
- You are involved in an unattended vehicle collision.
- You collide while merging onto a highway or into a rotary.
- You are a noncontact operator who causes a collision.
- You fail to yield right-of-way to emergency vehicles when required by law.
- You collide at a "T" intersection that you entered from a side road.
For more info on liability coverage, consult the state’s Division of Insurance Consumer Service Unit by phone at (617) 521-7777.
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