Question: What is the penalty for driving without auto insurance in Massachusetts? My coverage lapsed, will I have a problem getting auto insurance with another insurance company?
Answer: Massachusetts law requires that to register and drive a vehicle in this state you must have car insurance with minimum limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident of bodily injury liability and $5,000 for property damage liability. This is written as 20/40/5.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of $20,00/$40,000 and personal injury protection (PIP) of $8,000 is also required as part of a Massachusetts car insurance policy.
Compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance is discussed in chapter 90: Section 34J of the General Laws of Massachusetts. Here it states that being without insurance on a motor vehicle is punished by a fine not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both the fine and jail time.
The law goes on to say that any person convicted of being uninsured shall be liable for the amount greater of $500 or one year's premium for compulsory motor vehicle insurance for the highest rated territory and class or risk in effect at the time of the commission of the offense.
A person cited for driving without insurance may also have their driver's license suspended for 60 days by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) for first offense and a one year license suspension for a second or subsequent offense within six years.
A lapse in coverage may make it harder to get car insurance. There are many car insurance companies that require you to have continuous coverage to offer you a policy. There are auto insurance providers that will insure those with a lapse in coverage, but you should expect higher rates until you show yourself to be a responsible policyholder. This may take a year or so.
If you are unable to find insurance company to offer you coverage, then contact the Massachusetts Division of Insurance for consumer help.