If I have an accident without insurance in Massachusetts or in any other state, what happens?
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I live in Massachusetts, have a license but do not own a car, therefore do not have car insurance in Massachusetts. Thank you
Asked September 21, 2015
While you may not own a vehicle, you are still required by the state of Massachusetts to be properly insured when operating a motor vehicle. What this means is that any vehicle that you drive must be properly insured, and you must be covered as a driver on the insurance policy. This is usually not a problem when it comes to driving rental cars, as rental car companies will ensure that you are properly covered in order to protect themselves from liability; however, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have the proper coverage before you drive off of the lot. Law enforcement will not consider an oversight on the behalf of the rental car agency.
Where most people run into problems when they don't own a vehicle, but have a license to operate one, is when they borrow a friend's or relative's vehicle. While a family member or friend may have liability coverage, which is the minimal requirement in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it does not necessarily mean that every person who operates the vehicle will be covered. If the owner of the car has given you express consent to operate the vehicle, it is possible that their insurance will be in effect while you operate the vehicle. If you were to have an accident in this case, and the accident is declared to be your fault, you would be covered under the existing auto insurance policy. This is true as long as the existing policy's coverage covers the type and extent of the accident. Usually significant others and close friends, who do not live at the same address of the vehicle owner would fall under the express consent clause.
Many individuals will have what is known as extended family coverage with their policy; however, this coverage rider is only applicable to individuals who reside at the same residence of the owner of the vehicle.
Liability relates directly to responsibility, and in Massachusetts, an adult driver having expressed consent to drive the automobile of another is directly liable for any damage that they may cause while operating the vehicle, meaning that if you are behind the wheel, you are ultimately responsible for the cost of any damages you cause as a result of an accident. If the owner of the vehicle has liability coverage, it is possible that you would be covered under the expressed consent clause, and the insurance company will cover the damages, up to the maximum payout of the policy.
It is your responsibility to communicate with the owner of the car you will be driving to make sure that you will be covered under the existing policy. If there is any nebulosity surrounding this issue, it would be a good idea to contact the insurance company or agent to verify that you would be covered in the case of an accident. If you were to have an accident, and not be covered under the policy, you would be personally responsible for all damages associated with liability laws in the state - exposing you to civil litigation, and maybe even criminal charges.
Answered September 23, 2015 by sellingma