Massachusetts’s Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) helps encourage safer driving by rewarding those who keep clean driving records and issuing surcharge points to residents who cause automobile accidents and receive moving violations. While higher prices are often an effective way to discourage unsafe practices behind the wheel, insurers sometimes wrongly apply a surcharge to a person’s policy. As a result, the state has set up an appeals process that drivers in the state can use to contest surcharges.
If residents are issued a surcharge, it’s typically because they were believed to be at least 50 percent at fault for an accident, they filed a claim with damages of more than $500, or their actions in an accident fell under one of Massachusetts’s standards of fault. If someone feels that their rates have been wrongly increased, they can make an objection to the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.
In order to fight a surcharge, a resident needs to mail an appeal to the appropriate state department within 30 days of receiving their notice, complete the form located on the back of the notice, and submit a $50 check or money order to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts/Board of Appeal. After the necessary forms have been received, the Board will schedule a hearing and inform the motorist. The resident will then have the opportunity to make their case either in person or through a written statement.
Fewer Drivers Are Fighting the Fines
Even though drivers are capable of appealing auto insurance surcharges, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) has found that the number of Bay State residents who are formally objecting to these charges is decreasing. The number of residents who have pled their cases has decreased by 36 percent since 2006, which amounts to a difference of roughly 20,000 cases.
The NECIR suggests that fewer residents are taking action because of the filing fees and court costs that are associated with fighting a charge. Drivers need to pay a fee of $25 to fight a moving violation, or $50 for an accident. Court costs and other legal fees, however, could end up costing much more. Before taking action, residents need to strongly consider whether they can afford to object to their increased rates or accept the inflated price of auto insurance in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, many motorists may not be entirely aware of their odds of winning their case. According to the Board of Appeal, more than half of the cases that are seen by the board come out in favor of the motorist. By simply taking the time to object to price increases, hundreds of residents are able to prevent their premiums from going up.