What is an At-Fault Accident?

April 26, 2010

Massachusetts Auto Insurance: What is an At-Fault Accident? mass.gov

 If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for causing an accident, and if the accident involves a claim payment exceeding $500, you will receive a Surcharge Notice.

The incident will go on your driving record. As a result, your insurance company may impose a surcharge on your premium, depending on the terms of the company’s merit rating plan.

 What Is a Surchargeable At-Fault Accident?
 An accident is defined as a surchargeable at-fault accident if:
  • the involved operator is more than 50 percent at fault as determined by the Standards of Fault
  • the vehicle is a private passenger automobile
  • the accident involves a claim payment of more than $500, in excess of any deductible
  • the claim payment is for Damage To Someone Else’s Property, Collision, or Limited Collision coverages for a vehicle subject to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan. For at-fault accidents occurring on or after January 1, 2006, Bodily Injury To Others liability claims may be subject to surcharge.

Your insurance company will notify you and the Merit Rating Board (MRB) if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault for causing an accident. The MRB will then add the at-fault accident to your driving record. An increase to your auto insurance premium as a result of the accident is dependent on the terms of your insurer’s merit rating plan. A merit rating plan is used by an insurance company to adjust an auto insurance premium based on the operator’s driving record. Contact your insurance company or agent to find out about their merit rating plan.

Accidents outside of Massachusetts may be subject to surcharge.

  • If your Massachusetts insured private passenger automobile is involved in an accident outside of Massachusetts, it will be subject to surcharge if the accident involves a claim payment of more than $500 under Damage To Someone Else’s Property, Collision, Limited Collision, or Bodily Injury To Others, and if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault.
  • If you were involved in an at-fault accident when you resided outside of Massachusetts, it may be subject to surcharge. Massachusetts auto insurers may report an accident from your out-of-state driving record to theMRB if it can be classified as an at-fault accident as defined in the Massachusetts Safe Driver Insurance Plan.

Standards of Fault:

  • Collision with a Lawfully or Unlawfully Parked Vehicle
  • Rear End Collision
  • Out of Lane Collision
  • Failure to Signal
  • Failure to Proceed with Due Caution from a Traffic Control Signal or Sign
  • Collision on Wrong Side of Road
  • Operating in the Wrong Direction
  • Collision at an Uncontrolled intersection
  • Collision While in the Process of Backing Up
  • Collision While Making a Left Turn or U-Turn Across the Travel Path of a Vehicle Traveling in the Same or Opposite Direction
  • Leaving or Exiting from a Parked Position, Parking Lot, Alley or Driveway
  • Opened or Opening Vehicle Door(s)
  • Single Vehicle Collision
  • Failure to Obey the Rules and Regulations of Driving
  • Unattended Vehicle Collision
  • Collision While Merging onto a Highway, or into a Rotary
  • Non-Contact Operator Causing Collision
  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way to Emergency Vehicles when Required by Law
  • Collision at a “T” Intersection
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