If you're considering getting an insurance policy for your car in Worcester, then your premiums might be affected by your driving history thanks to the Massachusetts Safe Driver Insurance Plan. The plan, followed by many (but not all) insurers, tracks surcharge points for traffic incidents and adjusts premiums accordingly.
Is Your Car Insurance in Worcester Affected By the MA Safe Driver Insurance Plan?
SDIP is applied in a standard way for all participating insurance firms in Worcester and beyond. Drivers receive surcharge points for three main reasons:
- You get a fine and/or conviction for a traffic violation.
- You're in an accident where your insurer pays out more than $500 and/or holds you at more than 50 percent fault.
- You get a DUI conviction and assignment to a program for alcohol education.
The exact number of points you get for each incident varies from two to five and depends on the circumstances.
Only the surcharge points from the five years before your policy starts (or policy renewal date) are taken into account. You also get a pass for one minor traffic violation in this five year period, as long as it is non-criminal.
There's also a "Clean in 3" rule. This applies if you meet three criteria:
- You have fewer than three incidents in the past five years
- The most recent incident was more than three years ago
- You have at least three year's driving experience
The rule will remove one point from each incident for each of these categories if they apply.
Effects on Auto Insurance in Worcester and other Massachusetts Towns/Cities
The surcharge points affect four elements of coverage: bodily injury to others, personal injury protection, damage to someone else's property, and collision. Insurers calculate the premium as normal for your personal circumstances, then increase it by applying a penalty. If you've been driving for less than six years, the penalty is 7.5 percent for each surcharge point. If you've been driving for six years or longer, the penalty is 15 percent for each surcharge point.
Technically, the penalties max out at 45 surcharge points, though in most cases anyone who racks up this number of points will have most likely had their driving license suspended or revoked anyway.
If you've been gone five years without any surcharges, you get a bonus. Your premium is reduced by 7.5 percent if you've been driving for less than six years, and by 17 percent if you've been driving for six years or more.
Firms offering insurance in Worcester and the rest of Massachusetts don't have to take part in SDIP. However, if they choose not to do so, they must still run some form of program which takes driving incident history into account when determining premiums. Such a program could be more or less favorable to your personal circumstances, so it's worth checking out your options. Indeed, make sure to ask what merit-based penalties or bonuses have been applied to any premium quote you get.