Car Insurance Coverage Requirements in Massachusetts & Rhode Island
As your local insurance agent, HIG is all about simplifying the car insurance process. One of the ways we do this is by making sure that our clients understand the ins and outs of an auto insurance policy—before they purchase one.
Today, we want to provide you with important details about your state’s minimum car insurance requirements, including what these coverages are and the limits you need to purchase, as well as how they are designed to protect you in the event of an accident.
What drivers should know about their car insurance coverage requirements
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been neighboring states since colonial times, so you might think that their minimum car insurance requirements would be the same, if not very similar. In reality, there are some significant differences, as shown in the following chart.
|Required Coverage||Massachusetts||Rhode Island|
|Bodily Injury Liability||$20,000 per person
$40,000 per accident
|$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
|Property Damage Liability||$5,000 per accident||$25,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist||$20,000 per person
$40,000 per accident
|Rhode Island drivers may decline this coverage.|
|Personal Injury Protection||$8,000 per accident||Not required.|
This is a snapshot of what is required by both states, but what does this actually mean for you as a driver? Let’s start by understanding the critical protection provided by each of the four required coverages.
#1 Bodily Injury Liability
If you are found to be at fault in a car accident, bodily injury liability is the part of your auto insurance policy that should help you pay for the costs associated with injuries to other people involved in the crash. Bodily injury liability typically provides coverage for your legal defense if you are sued by the injured parties for medical expenses, lost wages, general pain and suffering, and more.
Other situations in which this coverage may apply include the following.
- A family member living in your household or a person using your car with your consent causes an accident.
- You or a family member in your household causes an accident while driving someone else’s car with their consent, and the damages exceed the amount of insurance available in the vehicle owner’s policy.
It is important to know that bodily injury liability does not pay for medical costs related to injuries suffered by you or anyone else driving your car.
#2 Property Damage Liability
If you are determined to be at fault in a car accident that results in damage to someone else’s property, then property damage liability is the portion of your auto insurance that typically covers the cost of repairing what you’ve ruined. Most commonly, this coverage applies to someone else’s car that you’ve hit and damaged. However, property damage liability may also cover you if you damage the following, as well.
- Building fronts
- Telephone poles
This coverage can also pay for expenses related to the loss of use of the damaged property. For example, if a car is driven into the side of a home, it can possibly shift the residence off of its foundation. Property damage liability may cover the cost for the household’s residents to move somewhere else until the foundation and house can be repaired, as long as high enough limits have been purchased. Finally, property damage liability should pay out for damages to another’s property not only when you are the driver who caused the accident but also when someone else is driving your car with your permission and is at fault.
#3 Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists
This coverage is designed to provide critical protection to you if you’re injured in a car crash that is not your fault. The following are some situations when having this coverage could greatly benefit you.
- You are injured in a car crash by a driver who flees the scene.
- You are injured in a car crash by a driver who does not have insurance.
- You are injured in a car crash by a driver who has purchased only the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by their state and thus does not have enough insurance to cover the entirety of your claim.
In situations such as these, having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage means that your insurance should typically replace the insurance that the at-fault driver should have had.
#4 Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
If you’re injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault, the personal injury protection coverage in your auto insurance policy is designed to fill in some of the coverage gaps that may be left by your health insurance plan. Particularly if you have a health care plan with high deductibles or low limits, this coverage is extremely valuable.
Personal injury protection could provide coverage for:
- Emergency medical expenses like an ambulance ride
- Hospital expenses and medications
- Injuries sustained by your passengers
- Injuries sustained if you’re walking or cycling and are hit by a car
- Necessary dental care as a result of a car accident
- Lost wages while recovering from injuries
- Funeral expenses
Personal injury protection is a required coverage for drivers in Massachusetts, but not for those in Rhode Island. However, there is an optional coverage for Rhode Islanders called medical payments, which offers some of the same protection.
Like PIP, medical payments typically cover you for the costs of your medical care resulting from an accident, no matter who is at fault for the accident. However, it does not extend quite as far as personal injury protection coverage, as it is strictly intended to cover medical bills and funeral expenses.
HIG is here to help you understand and select the car insurance options that are best for you.
We hope you’ve found this information to be a good primer on auto insurance requirements in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. While you should be a more knowledgeable insurance shopper now, these details are truly just the tip of the iceberg.
Most importantly, it is critical to understand that not all auto insurance policies are created equal. To make sure you get the policy that best protects you, your vehicle, and your passengers, get the help of an experienced, local independent insurance agent like HIG.
Please contact us today to hear about the top-quality car insurance coverages and competitive rates that we have access to through our wide variety of insurance partners. We will also introduce you to many valuable insurance options that you may want to consider investing in to enhance your coverage and save money.