Last week, Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes announced that the state will retain the board that allows drivers to appeal auto insurance surcharges. According to the legislators who sponsored the bills, there was support for retaining the board in both the Senate and the House.
When a driver is involved with a motor vehicle accident, their insurance company assesses a surcharge on the driver’s premiums if the company determines that the driver was at fault in the accident. Surcharges can be as high as half the premium, adding hundreds of dollars to the driver’s auto insurance costs.
Consumer advocates argued that insurance companies were not likely to give motorists a fair hearing, since they have a financial incentive to charging the driver a surcharge and collecting additional revenue by deeming the driver at fault. The appeal’s board charges $50 to apply for a hearing and takes approximately six months to hear a case. Each year, about half the cases are determined in favor of drivers.
“The Board of Appeals is an important safeguard to ensure that consumers are protected against decisions by insurance companies that can result in significantly higher premiums,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.