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Northampton, MA 01060

Newsletter

31Mar. 2014

How to Be Better Than an Excellent Driver

When I hear the term “excellent driver,” I often think of Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond proclaiming “I’m an excellent driver” over and over again in the movie Rain Man.

If he was a Massachusetts driver though, being just excellent wouldn’t be enough to garner him the best auto insurance rates.

To save the most money on auto insurance in MA, you need to be better than an excellent driver. You need to be Excellent Plus.

How do you know if you are an Excellent Plus driver? You qualify if:

• You been driving for at least 6 years, and

• You have a clean driving record for the past 6 years.

The 6-year mark is key, as all accidents stay on your record for 6 years. Insurance companies calculate your premium based on the 6 years prior to your policy start date.

If you are involved in an accident and are found to be more than 50 percent at fault or are charged with a moving violation, the state adds points to your license. Your insurance company will apply a surcharge based on those points to your premium at your next renewal.

You receive 2 points for a moving violation (like a speeding ticket), 3 points for a minor at-fault accident (causing $501-$2000 of property damage), and 4 points for a major at-fault accident (causing more than $2000 of property damage).

If your driving record remains clean for 3 years after the surchargeable event, the state will begin removing the points in the fourth year, taking away one point each year. Once you reach the point where you have been driving for at least 5 years and have no surchargeable incidents for 5 years, you are classified as an Excellent Driver and qualify for an Excellent Driver Discount. But to get the maximum discount available, you need 6 clean years to become Excellent Plus.

Of course there are more details to know, but the key point is this: accidents and violations ratchet your insurance cost up fast.

When you get points on your license, your auto insurance cost gets hit with a double-whammy:

1. You receive a surcharge that is a percentage increase in the cost of several components of your auto insurance policy which can total around $300 or more per year for many drivers; and

2. You lose your Safe Driver Insurance Discount which can be around $200 per year for those who were Excellent Plus Drivers beforehand.

Since it takes 6 years for you to return to the maximum Safe Driver Discount, you can see that accidents and violations can cost you thousands of dollars in insurance premiums.

What can you do to avoid this situation?

• Drive safely.

• Pay particular attention to situations where you would be deemed automatically at fault. These situations include rear end collisions, single vehicle collisions (yours is the only car involved) and taking a left turn.

• Consider adding Accident Forgiveness Coverage to your auto insurance policy.

Accident Forgiveness Coverage is available to experienced drivers (driving at least 6 years) who have never had an accident and are incident free. The endorsement to your policy would mean that while you would still get points added to your license in the case of an accident, your insurance company would forgive your first accident by not adding the surcharge to your premium cost.

Please drive safely and call our office if you have any questions or would like to learn more about Accident Forgiveness Coverage.

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