In Massachusetts, a point system, called "surchargeable points," based on the Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP), drastically affect your individual auto insurance rates. These points can add up quickly and potentially cost you thousands of dollars more for insurance over many years. Further, if you have accumulated a number of points in a certain time frame, you could face lengthy license suspensions and additional fines.Why At-Fault Accidents And Traffic Violations Can Cost You Much More Than You Think
If you are facing a traffic violation, don't face a conviction and potentially thousands of dollars in insurance surcharges or license suspension without the experienced Boston traffic attorneys at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. fighting on your behalf. Be aware that each violation you receive can have far reaching effects, well beyond the face value of the ticket. Call us today at 617-225-2100 for a free consultation.The Safe Driver Insurance Program Can Hurt Or Help, Depending On Your Record
Auto insurance rates in the state are set according to Massachusetts state law. Here, insurance companies and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) work in tandem to determine auto insurance rates for all drivers under the Safe Driver Insurance Program.
The Safe Driver Insurance Program encourages and rewards safe driving, by lowering auto insurance premiums for drivers that avoid causing traffic accidents and violations. Additionally, SDIP ensures that high-risk drivers who cause at-fault accidents and commit traffic violations pay a higher auto insurance premium.Types of Surchargeable Events And Their Associated Points
There are two main types of "surchargeable events," at-fault accidents and traffic violations. Surcharge points are assigned if you are more than 50% at-fault for an accident resulting in property damage or bodily injury in excess of $500. Further, surcharge points are received if you are convicted of (note, not simply charged with) a traffic violation, pay a fine for a traffic violation, or are assigned to a drug/alcohol education program. The following is a schedule of surchargeable points:
Surchargeable Incident Points
Major Traffic Violation 5
Major At-Fault Accident 4
(Claim > $2,000)
Minor At-Fault Accident 3
(Claim over $500, up to
Minor Traffic Violation 2
No points will be assessed for the driver's first non-criminal traffic violation. Note, however, that this will not count as an "incident free" year.How Will Surchargeable Events Impact My Insurance Premium?
In short, the more points you have racked up, the higher premium you will pay. On the other hand, good drivers with clean records are rewarded with lower premiums.
If you have been driving for less than six years, each point increases your premium by 7.5% in four coverage areas—bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury coverage, and collision coverage.
If you have been driving for more than six years, each point increases your premium by 15% in four coverage areas—bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury coverage, and collision coverage.
Note that these points can add up very quickly, resulting in skyrocketing insurance costs. For example, a speeding ticket will cost you two points, resulting in you paying up to 30% more for your insurance policy for the next three years. This results in potentially thousands of extra dollars over many years.
For drivers with a clean record, the "Excellent Driver Discount" and "Excellent Driver Discount Plus" provides significant discounts if you have at least five years of clean driving (no at-fault accidents or traffic violations).Can I Lose My License If I Accrue Too Many Surchargeable Points?
The short answer is: "yes." However, regarding license status, the RMV focuses more on the number of violations ("surchargeable events") you accumulate within a certain time frame compared to the "point system," which is used by insurance companies to calculate premiums. Of course, though, surchargeable points are assigned after convictions of surchargeable events, so the two are interlinked. Some common situations where you license can be negatively affected:
- If you are found responsible for 3 speeding violations within 1 year (12 months), your license will be suspended for 30 days, automatically.
- If you accrue 5 surchargeable events on your driving record within 3 years, you must complete a "driver retraining program" within 90 days, or your license will be suspended until you complete the course.
- If you accrue 7 surchargeable events within a 3-year period, an automatic 60-day license suspension will result.
Keep in mind, also, that your insurance company will raise rates for every surchargeable event.Once Convicted, The Surchargeable Points And Surchargeable Events Stick Around For Years, Costing You Many Times Over
As far as increased insurance costs, surchargeable points are difficult to work off your driving record. If you have 3 or fewer surchargeable incidents over the last 5 years, 1 point will be removed from each violation, for every 3 years of safe driving. There is no other way to reduce points or surcharges, unless you appeal the finding or bring it to court. In short, once convicted, points and surcharges tend to stick around for many years, costing you a great deal in increased insurance premiums.
Call the Boston traffic lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. today to aggressively fight moving violations, traffic tickets, and all vehicular offenses. We have decades of successful experience fighting on clients' behalf, often saving them thousands in potential insurance surcharges and potential license suspension/revocation. Call us today at 617-225-2100 for a free consultation.