The Bay State is a relatively safe place to get behind the wheel. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2016 (the latest data available) there were 5.7 deaths in Massachusetts for every 100,000 people — the third lowest rate out of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

Still, car accidents happen out of nowhere, and every driver needs auto insurance to protect themselves and their vehicles. Massachusetts (like all states except Virginia and New Hampshire) legally require auto liability insurance before a driver can rev up an engine.

Massachusetts Minimum Liability

Liability essentially means “responsibility,” and there are two kinds of liability when it comes to auto insurance: bodily injury and property damage. If you are at-fault in an accident, your auto liability insurance will pay the other driver’s medical and vehicle repair costs.

Minimum liability refers to the minimum amount of insurance coverage the state of Massachusetts requires you to purchase. (For the rest of the review, we’ll use the following shorthand to discuss liability coverage: 20/40/5.) Massachusetts’ minimum liability coverage breaks down like this:

  • $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $40,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $5,000 property damage coverage per accident

In Massachusetts, like all other no-fault states, you’re also required to have Personal Injury Project, or PIP for short. (In a no-fault state, policy holders can recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of fault.) This includes coverage for medical, rehabilitation, lost wages due to missed time at work, and even funeral expenses. In some states PIP also includes essential services such as child care.

So should you purchase an auto policy with the minimum liability coverage for Massachusetts and call it a day? Not quite. According to DMV.org, a good rule of thumb is to purchase the highest amount of auto insurance you can afford. If you caused an accident that resulted in bodily injury to another person, the cost for hospital bills could well exceed the minimum liability of $20,000 per person.

There are many things that factor into auto insurance premiums (your driving history, your age, your marital status, what kind of car you drive, and so on). Thus, it’s important to shop around for premiums to see who can give you the best deal. This review on the top auto providers in Massachusetts is a great place to start.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Reviews

MAPFRE

Our favorite provider by a long shot, MAPFRE is a great place to start when you’re shopping for auto insurance. It’s the largest provider of auto insurance in Massachusetts, covering 24% of the market share.

It received high marks from A.M. Best with a financial rating of “strong” and a rating of “good financial security” from Standard & Poor’s. J.D. Power was a bit less enamored with the brand, giving it a 2 out of 5 possible stars for overall satisfaction in the New England region — it received dings for policy offerings, price, and billing process. However, it’s worth mentioning that MAPFRE has the most robust supplemental coverage options out of the five largest auto providers in Massachusetts. The J.D. Power ranking for the overall claims process satisfaction was more in line with what we suspected — a 4 out of 5. Consumer Reports readers ranked both the simplicity of the claims process and the timely paying of claims as “very good.”

In addition to ratings, MAPFRE’s website is easy to use and intuitive, making it easy to decipher your coverage quickly; It also features a comprehensive list of both discounts and endorsements. The quote tool is also speedy — in less than five minutes, we received an estimate. MAPFRE has a live chat feature too (only two of our top five providers have this feature), which makes asking speaking to an agent a snap.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual has a slick website — it’s well-designed, intuitive, and by far the easiest one to navigate around. It makes sense, as it’s the second-largest auto insurance provider in Massachusetts, with 12.7% of the market share. It is the only one of our top five auto providers to receive ratings from all three financial institutions — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and A.M. Best — varying from “good” to “very strong.” J.D. Power rated its overall satisfaction as 3 out of 5 stars “about average.” Its claim satisfaction ratings were a bit lower at 2 out of 5 stars.

Still, Liberty Mutual received a big ding from us during the quote process. There are two ways to obtain a free quote on their website — you can choose either a quick estimate which entailed answering a few questions, or a personalized quote, which meant answering more detailed questions. We hit a roadblock in both versions when we were required to enter our Social Security Number to continue with the quote process. No other insurer required that sensitive information in order to churn out a free quote.

Safety Insurance

Safety Insurance provides coverage to 9.2% of Massachusetts’ drivers. The company has a few standout features, including an endorsement for pet coverage, one of the only two of our top providers to do so. That means if your pet is seriously injured in a car accident, it will reimburse a certain amount of your vet bills. The company also offers an Auto Loan/Lease Gap endorsement, meaning that in the event of a covered total loss to your car, the insurance company will pay any unpaid amount on the lease or loan of your vehicle. That’s a big deal for anyone who is financing or leasing their car.

However, one area where Safety Insurance disappointed is its online quote process — there is none. That’s needlessly inconvenient when you’re shopping around for price comparisons. The company didn’t rank as highly as the others in J.D. Power rankings, earning 2 stars out of a possible 5 for its overall satisfaction, lumping it unceremoniously with “the rest.” In terms of its financial stability, Safety Insurance only received ratings from A.M. Best, which gives it an A for a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.”

Arbella Insurance

Arbella Insurance is the fifth-largest auto insurance provider in Massachusetts, covering 8.8% of the market share. It received 3 out of 5 possible stars from J.D. Power, meaning its customers were satisfied “about average” overall with their entire insurance experience. It garnered an A- rating from A.M. Best, which translates to a “very strong capability to meet financial commitments.” It’s definitely worthy of a look.

That said, Arabella’s website isn’t our favorite; there is no FAQ page, no live chat capability, and sparse educational tools regarding coverage options. It does offer a hefty list of discounts, though, including a few that not many competitors offer, such as one for active members of the military on deployment and drivers who are behind the wheel less than 10,000 miles per year. If either of those apply to you, you may be able to save on your premium by choosing Arbella. Much like Safety Insurance, there is no way to retrieve an online quote from Arbella, so you’ll have to call and speak to an agent.

Plymouth Rock Assurance Company

The sixth-largest provider in Massachusetts, Plymouth Rock Assurance covers 6.9% of the state’s market share. It received 3 out of 5 possible stars from J.D. Power, giving it a ranking of “about average” for overall customer satisfaction. Like Arbella, Plymouth Rock also received an A- (“very strong capability to meet financial commitments”) rating from A.M. Best.

Plymouth Rock doesn’t have all the coverage options its competitors have; notably missing were vanishing deductible and accident forgiveness, both of which are offered by the other four Massachusetts auto providers on our list. While the company does offer roughly a dozen various discounts, the website doesn’t list them all.

The first time we attempted to get an online quote, we got an error message and the site suggested we “try again in a few hours.” When we did, it was a seamless process, with its quote generator churning out a mock price for us within less than five minutes. Plymouth Rock’s quote generator was our favorite out of all of our providers — quick and painless.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Quote Analysis

We wanted to see how our home address would affect our auto insurance premiums, so we got quotes from different addresses in each of three counties ranging from the lowest to the highest population density. We used the same car and driver for each: a 2012 Subaru Outback with 65,000 miles and a 45-year-old unmarried male driver.

The results weren’t shocking — folks in more populated, urban areas are likely going to pay higher auto insurance premiums due to the increased population density and higher likelihood of crime. By contrast, the more rural an area, the lower insurance premiums you’ll likely pay.

COUNTY MAPFRE PLYMOUTH ROCK
Franklin (lowest population density) $64 per month $104 per month
Barnstable (average population density) $84 per month $121 per month
Suffolk (highest population density) $121 per month $159 per month


How smartphones are raising your auto insurance premiums.

Smartphones have done a world of good for e-commerce but there’s one industry that’s not thrilled about their ubiquitousness — and that’s the auto insurance industry. According to a 2017 Boston Globe article, drivers distracted by their smartphones are crashing more often, leading to a spike in auto insurance premiums, even for drivers who have not had any accidents recently. In 2017, auto insurers raised their premiums on average 3 to 6 percent, making it the second straight year of steep increases. (MAPFRE, one of our top picks, raised its premiums by nearly 4 percent in May 2017.) And, they might not go down anytime soon.

TrueMotion, a Boston-based company that produces an app to track how much drivers are on their phones, found that drivers spent nearly 20 percent of every driving trip talking on the phone, holding it, or texting. Until recently, traffic-related fatalities were on a steady decline. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that fatalities attributed to distracted driving jumped nearly 9 percent in 2015.