Common Auto Insurance FAQs - Paul & Dixon Insurance

Common Auto Insurance FAQs

What is “managed competition” in MA Auto Insurance?

While insurance companies may set their own rates and offer special product benefits and features, the Commissioner of Insurance maintains approval authority. He or she will exercise tight control over how rates are set.

Do we need to buy insurance from a rental car company when we are away on vacation?

If you have collision and comprehensive insurance on your personal auto, you automatically have the same coverages, subject to your deductible, under the physical damage insurance. You are NOT covered, however, for the soft costs. That is, your personal policy will not pay for any lost business income incurred by the rental car company while their damaged vehicle is being repaired. Some credit cards include coverage for this loss of use. If you aren’t certain that yours does, we recommend that you buy the insurance from the rental company.

When my child obtains a driver’s permit, must I list him or her on my Auto Policy?

You don’t need to list your child as an operator of your car until he or she actually passes the driver’s exam and becomes a licensed driver. A child with a valid permit can operate your car accompanied by a licensed operator without being listed up until he or she becomes a licensed driver. If you have a son or daughter with a permit, please let us know. We have some useful information on young people and their impact on your auto insurance, as well as information about advanced driver training courses that can make inexperienced drivers better drivers and save premium dollars, too.

How is family Auto Insurance coverage handled when students are away during the school year?

All household members need to be listed as operators of family vehicles. While students are away at school, they may be excluded as operators. A signed exclusion form needs to be filed. This saves premium dollars for the parents. But they must remember to call us and add back student operators during holiday breaks, spring break, summer, etc.

What is a deductible?

When a claim occurs, you are required to pay the first portion of the cost to repair or replace the insured property. This fixed amount is the deductible you selected. The insurance company pays the remainder of the claim. Deductibles are used as a method to stretch your insurance dollars. The greater the deductible amount you agree to pay for each claim, the lower your insurance premium. This can sometimes add up to a significant savings. However, you must decide how much of any claim you are willing and able to pay before choosing a deductible. We’d be glad to help you re-assess the deductibles you’ve chosen to see if they match your current needs.

How do I qualify for a Multi-Car Discount?

You’ll save between 5-10% when spouses insure all of their vehicles with the same insurance company.

How does the Mass Transit Discount work?

You save money on your car insurance if you take the train or subway to work.

What is the difference between “Comprehensive” and “Collision” coverages for automobiles?

“Comprehensive” covers all perils except collision. Examples: losses by theft, fire, windstorm, flood, vandalism, falling objects, earthquake, hail, glass breakage, and more. “Collision” covers only one peril…collision. But it is the one peril (don’t you love that word?) that causes the most damage. That’s why it is more expensive.

If a tree falls on my car at home, does my Homeowners Insurance pay for the damage?

No. At home or away from home, you are covered only if you have comprehensive coverage on your automobile policy.

What are the basic rules of the road for bicyclists?

They are valid road users and have all the rights and responsibilities of other vehicle drivers. They must drive on the right with the flow of traffic and use proper hand signals before making a lane change or turning.

Can socio-economic factors be used to underwrite auto policies under the new “managed competition” system?

The regulation bans the use in rating of gender, marital status, race, creed, national origin, religion, occupation, income, education, homeownership, and age as against public policy. The one exception: drivers age 65 and over will continue to receive a discount. The Insurance Commissioner has set similar bans in the use of underwriting based on age, sex, race, occupation, marital status or principal place of garaging; nor should companies use education or home ownership in underwriting.

How do I go about registering a car in Massachusetts?

You need a title, a bill of sale, a full description of the vehicle, and the vehicle’s current mileage. You also need to pay the insurance down payment, registration fees, and sales tax. Then you’re ready for the Registry; the process should go smoothly.

Can a newly licensed driver transport a passenger of any age?

In general, the answer is no. According to Massachusetts law, a newly licensed driver cannot transport anyone under 18 years of age. However, there is an exception for members of the driver’s immediate family. (NOTE: Teenagers driving with learner’s permits do not need to be added as listed operators on your insurance policy until they pass their licensing exam.)

Can I appeal an At-Fault Accident Surcharge on my Auto Insurance premium?

Yes. If you believe you were not more than 50% at-fault, you may appeal to the Board of Appeal located at your local Registry of Motor Vehicles. The filing fee is $50. You must appeal within 30 days from the receipt of your Surcharge Notice; otherwise you will lose your right to appeal.

How do I qualify for a Safe Driver Discount in Massachusetts?

You can save money if you and any other drivers covered under your policy have not had an at-fault accident or moving violation for the past 6 years.

What about the Seniors Discount on Auto Insurance?

Seniors (over the age of 65) save 25%. The discount is the result of several factors that relate to the age group: less exposure to the pressures of rush-hour commuter traffic; more conservative lifestyles; less driving time, mileage, and so forth.

I understand there is a Safety Features Discount. How do I qualify?

If your vehicle is equipped with safety devices such as airbags or passive restraint seatbelts, you earn an additional savings on your auto insurance.

Does my Auto Policy cover personal property in my car?

Stolen or damaged items like compact discs aren’t covered by your Auto Insurance. You’d have to file a claim on your Homeowners Insurance. Most Homeowners Insurance policies cover smaller, relatively inexpensive items. However, if you regularly transport expensive items such as computer equipment, ask us about purchasing a floater on your Homeowners Policy.

If I travel to Canada by car, how do I prove to border guards that I have the required Auto Insurance?

You need to contact your Auto Insurance agent and ask for a Canadian insurance card. The card must be stamped and signed by your agent.

We have an RV sitting in our yard. Does our Homeowners Policy cover it for damages?

No! For example, if a tree or limb falls and damages your RV, you are not covered by your Homeowners Policy. Physical damage is not automatically covered. An RV must have specific Collision and Comprehensive Insurance to pay for damage losses. Call us for more information about the benefits and cost.


Fax: 508-990-1784

Hours: Mon-Fri

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


388 County Street
New Bedford, MA 02740


4436 Acushnet Ave
New Bedford, MA 02745