Massachusetts is home to some of the oldest towns and cities in the country, and it attracts countless students seeking higher education - especially in Boston, the state capital. But there’s a lot more to see than the big city. Heading to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard can be a nice way to spend your summer vacation. Of course, you wouldn’t want to set out on the road without car insurance.

Residents of Massachusetts are required to carry automobile coverage in order to operate their vehicles. The cost of car insurance in Massachusetts varies widely depending on where you live, but on average, consumers pay a little below the national average for their insurance policy. According to the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the best way to find cheap car insurance is to shop around and compare companies.

But before you begin comparing car insurance quotes, you need to know what you’re looking at. So what’s required by law, and is it enough for you?

Massachusetts Car Insurance Laws

According to Massachusetts law, drivers will need the following coverage to be legal to drive:

Liability Insurance

$20,000 bodily injury per person for injuries sustained in the accident.

$40,000 for bodily injury per accident when multiple people are injured.

$5,000 property damage for any vehicle or structure damaged when you’re in an at-fault accident.

Liability insurance helps you meet the financial responsibility to pay for all the costs an accident incurs when you’re at fault, as well as paying legal fees if your case winds up in court.

Personal Injury Protection

$8,000 for personal injury protection (PIP), also known as no-fault insurance. This will pay medical bills and lost wages from injuries in a car accident.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

$20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury caused by an uninsured motorist, or if the costs exceed the other driver’s coverage limits.

The state follows a no-fault system. Each driver’s Personal Injury Protection policy is responsible for paying medical expenses to you and your passengers, no matter who is at fault. Your Bodily Injury policies only come into play in certain extenuating circumstances, i.e. when another driver is suing for extensive medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or loss of use in limbs.

Property damage isn’t restricted by the no-fault system. Your liability insurance will pay for property damage you’ve caused in an at-fault accident, up to the maximum limits on the policy, and you can be sued for damages without restriction, as long as the suit is filed within the statute of limitations.

Failure to maintain insurance can be very expensive. Not only could you face a $500 fine and the possibility of jail time and a suspended license, but you may also be required to pay the equivalent of one year of car insurance coverage at the highest market rate.

Choosing the right Car Insurance Policy

When you’re searching for cheap car insurance in Massachusetts, there are a number of crucial considerations. Before you settle on a policy to purchase, make sure you’ve considered everything below:

Get the right coverage limits

The minimum coverage limits set by Massachusetts law aren’t one size fits all. If you’re in a serious car accident, you could easily exceed the limits on one or all of your policies, leaving the rest up to you to pay out of pocket. But if you’re financially stable, too much coverage can be a waste of money. There’s no formula for nailing down the perfect policy size; it depends on the value of your vehicle, your current health insurance coverage, and a variety of other factors. But to get the best car insurance rates, follow the Goldilocks rule - not too large, not too small.

Choose the right deductible

When you make a claim on your car insurance in Massachusetts, you’ll have to pay a deductible. This is simply the amount of money you owe out of pocket before your car insurance coverage begins covering your costs. The key thing to understand about deductibles is that they’re in a see-saw relationship with your insurance premiums. Paying higher monthly car insurance rates will snag you a low deductible. On the other hand, if you want lower monthly car insurance premiums, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket when you make a claim. Some policies aren’t subject to deductibles, so make sure you understand what you’ll have to pay in the event of an accident.

Consider other policies

There are quite a few scenarios where policies required by the state won’t leave you protected. Adding a Collision and Comprehensive policy will help you repair or replace your car, whether it was damaged in an accident or due to circumstances outside of your control, like hail. Towing and labor can help you get your car operational for a lot less, and Gap insurance can help if you total your car when you still owe more money on it than the car is worth. Of course, some policies may be redundant. For instance, you may already have roadside assistance through AAA or a similar service, so there’s no need to pay for it twice. You should determine which policies you need before you start shopping.

What determines your rates?

The price of car insurance changed significantly on April 1, 2008, when insurers began to determine their own rates. Prior to that, premiums were set by the Commissioner of Insurance under the “fix-and-establish” system. That means some insurance companies offer much more competitive prices to attract customers

Your insurance company will determine your rate based on your address, driving history, and the kind of vehicle you want to insure. Luckily for state residents, Massachusetts has much stricter laws than most states on the information companies use to set your premiums. That means your age, sex, credit score, and marital status can’t be used against you.

Additional policies and increased limits will also increase the amount you pay, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp. Your liability coverage won’t pay to fix your car, so If you don’t have collision coverage, you might not be able to afford the cost of repairs.

Your driving history has a huge effect on your insurance premiums, so maintaining a clean driving record is imperative to get the best deal on car insurance. Even one at-fault accident can cause your rates to skyrocket unless your policy offers accident forgiveness, and a speeding ticket could be just as bad. Choosing a safer car, avoiding citations, and scrupulously protecting your driving record can work wonders for your monthly premiums.

Compare Massachusetts car insurance quotes online

Taking the time to compare Massachusetts car insurance quotes is the most efficient way to save on coverage. Now that the state has allowed providers to determine their own premiums and compete among themselves, consumers can take advantage of lower rates as well as the available insurance discounts.

There is a multitude of insurers providing coverage, and contacting each company individually would be too time-consuming. But with Onlineautoinsurance.com, you can find the most competitive premiums from reliable carriers, without putting your personal information at risk.

That means you can easily compare the cost of different vehicles before you buy, experiment with different levels of coverage, and find the insurance provider that offers you the best value - all without leaving your house or talking to anyone over the phone.

The bottom line

Getting a good deal on car insurance will take some time, but it’s well worth it to make sure you have a policy that won’t leave you in dire straits if the worst should happen. And even if you already have an insurance policy, you can save a lot of money by taking the time to compare rates.

Find the insurance coverage you need from the comfort of home, with no pressure and no obligation to buy, and you can print your proof of insurance within a few minutes. Get started now!