Special insurance section: The more things change in Bay State auto insurance, the more they stay the same

The Patriot Ledger

The auto insurance market is going through some big changes here in Massachusetts. But one thing is staying the same: Every driver needs to have auto insurance to legally drive in the state.

There are four mandatory elements to each insurance policy. The following list shows the minimum limits – the amount that an insurance company will reimburse following an accident – for each kind of coverage. Motorists can, and often do, buy policies that have higher limits than what the state mandates.

Bodily injury to others: Coverage must include at least $20,000 per person and at least $40,000 per accident. Protects against legal liability for accidental injuries caused to other people if the crash occurs in Massachusetts.

Personal injury protection (PIP): Minimum coverage is $8,000 per accident for medical expenses and 75 percent of any lost wages. Available to the car owner or anyone who is driving the car. PIP coverage pays for medical expenses above $2,000 that are not reimbursed by a health insurer.

Bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto: Minimum coverage is $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident, protecting a car owner or anyone else in the car against losses caused by an uninsured or unidentified driver.

Damage to someone else’s property: Coverage for at least $5,000 per accident is required.

Drivers also have a range of options to choose from beyond the mandatory coverage types, including the following:

Collision coverage: Pays for damage to your car, no matter who causes the accident.

Comprehensive coverage: covers damage caused by events such as a fire or theft.

Coverage for substitute transportation: reimburses car rental costs while your car is being repaired.

Coverage for towing and labor: protects drivers in case their car breaks down.