Frequently Asked Questions
There are no specific time limits for the settlement of claims.
Insurance companies are required by law to pay all claims in a prompt and
reasonable amount of time. However, what constitutes "prompt and reasonable"
may vary from claim to claim. Claims that require special or extended
investigation may take longer to resolve. Inclement weather conditions often
cause an increase in the number of claims filed and that can slow the process
down as well.
When your auto is declared a total loss, unless you made special
arrangements and paid an additional premium, your insurance company will only
pay you the actual cash value of the auto as of the date of the loss, not the
cost to replace it. Your auto's value is determined by the following factors:
the retail value for an auto of like kind and quality prior to the accident;
the price paid for the auto plus the value of prior improvements to the auto at
the time of the accident; the decrease in value of the auto resulting from
prior unrelated damage which is detected by the appraiser or for which a claim
has been paid; and the actual purchase cost of an available auto of like kind
If your auto has substantial value
because of its exceptional condition such as an antique, classic, or restored
auto, you should have it appraised and then insure it for the appraised value.
Yes, the auto is considered insured until the policyholder returns
the license plates to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you don't have your
license plate because your auto was stolen or because your auto and plates were
burned in a fire, then you have to go the nearest Registry of Motor Vehicles
office and obtain a lost or stolen plate(s) receipt and use that instead. You
must give this receipt to your insurance company in order to cancel your policy
and avoid paying any additional premium.
No, your insurance company has the option to take title to your
auto because it is entitled to any salvage value your auto may have. You can,
of course, negotiate with your company to purchase your auto for the agreed
If the repair of the damaged part impairs the operational safety of
the auto, then the insurance company will pay to replace it with a new part.
But, for non-safety parts, unless your claim occurs during the first year after
your car was manufactured, you are not entitled to new ones. State regulation
allows for the replacement of damaged parts with used or reconditioned parts as
long as they are of like kind and quality. This means that a three-year old
door will not get replaced by a brand new one. You can insist on new parts, but
you will have to pay the difference in cost.
Yes, if you have comprehensive insurance you are covered for the
full amount of the loss, unless you opted for a $100 deductible for glass
breakage. The $300, $500, or $1000 deductible, or whatever you may have
selected for comprehensive coverage, does not apply to a glass loss.
Return to Questions
Yes. If you or someone on your behalf gives false, deceptive,
misleading or incomplete information in any application and if such information
increases the insurance company's risk of loss, then your company may refuse to
pay claims under any or all of the Optional Insurance Parts of the policy. Such
information includes the description and place of garaging of the vehicles to
be insured, the names of the operators required to be listed and the answers
given for all listed operators.
In the event that you
have moved since you filled out your initial application, promptly notify your
insurance company and the
Registry of Motor Vehicles of your new address.
Yes. Your company must send you a notice at least 20 days prior to
the effective date of the cancellation. A notice sent by regular mail with a
certificate of mailing receipt obtained from the Post Office is considered
sufficient. A certified or registered mail with a return receipt is no longer
You can pay the exact amount called for on the notice or, if you
feel that the cancellation is unjust, you may submit a written complaint to the
Board of Appeals
at 470 Atlantic Avenue, Boston 02210-2223. This must be done prior to the
effective date of cancellation.
The insurance company is responsible for paying storage charges
until it makes a reasonable offer to settle the claim. However, if the consumer
disputes the amount offered and the company revises its offer, this does not
necessarily mean that the original offer was unreasonable. Disputes over what
is reasonable can be resolved with your company through the process described
in your insurance policy. You can also submit a written complaint to the
Division of Insurance if you are unable to settle the dispute.
Your insurance company may request up to a 30 percent down payment
of the annual premium prior to the renewal or issuance of your policy. Most
companies do offer a monthly type payment plan for the balance of the premium
or something similar. You should check with your company to see what options
are available to you.
Yes. Your collision and comprehensive insurance are transferable to
a substitute rented or borrowed private passenger auto that is damaged while it
is being operated by you and by members of your household. There is no coverage
under your policy for family friends or significant others. You should be aware
that your coverage is available only if you rent or borrow a private passenger
auto in the United States or Canada.
You should also
be aware that your policy does not provide coverage for borrowed or rented
trucks. If you are renting a truck, you should check with the rental company
regarding the purchase of collision and comprehensive insurance. If you are
borrowing a truck, make sure you determine whether or not the owner has
purchased collision or comprehensive coverage. If the owner does not have
insurance, you may be personally liable for any damage to that truck which is
the result of your negligent operation. Last, if the use is for business rather
than pleasure, call your agent first. Business use is usually not automatically
covered. In any event, remember that the coverage is for what is basically a
substitute vehicle, not an additional one.
The Automobile Insurance Questions & Answers were compiled to help
consumers answer some of the most frequently asked questions about automobile
Developed with assistance from the
Massachusetts Department of Insurance.
Contents were written by DOI Staff.