In the competitive insurance industry, here at MassDrive we compete with our commitment to technology and customer experience. After our recent announcement of the debut of our own proprietary online quoting tool, Agency Checklist became intrigued. They interviewed our CEO Bill Suneson to find out how this independent agency uses the power of the internet to drive its growth and success!
Bill Suneson, founder of MassDrive, opened his agency in 2009 at the start of “Managed Competition” precisely because of the benefits that he believed auto insurance deregulation in Massachusetts could bring to independent agents. And while many agents bemoan the arrival of direct writers in the Commonwealth, MassDrive welcomes the competition, believing independent agents actually have the upper hand over direct writers.
Why have your agency sell insurance online and by telephone only?
We believe consumers want to be able to buy online and do so conveniently. Consumers expect technology and that is what they are asking for. Studies show 71 percent of consumers shop online with most getting a quote in three different places. While some customers are still going to walk in to a traditional storefront [to buy insurance], the growth and opportunity is in getting to consumers shopping online.
Your latest has been the MassDrive online quoting tool, how did that come about?
Consumers in other states have been able to compare rates online for several years and our mission has always been to provide MA drivers with the same opportunity. Utilizing Boston Software’s comparative rater, we built our own API over their carrier rating engine to better manage and control the consumer experience. Boston Software has been a great partner in this initiative and we could not have done it without their support and innovation.
In 2008, the auto insurance market in Massachusetts was deregulated resulting in major changes for both consumers and insurance carriers alike. As more carriers began to write policies in the state, prices initially dropped. However, prices have since rebounded and now closely resemble what consumers were paying before the industry was deregulated, according to data from the state Division of Insurance. The question then arises; Is competition in the industry actually benefiting Massachusetts residents?
Recently, an article titled “Auto Insurance Rates Bounce Back Up In Mass.” was published in the Boston Globe. The article was written by Deirdre Fernandes and she tries to determine whether or not consumers are benefiting from competition in the auto insurance industry by studying year-to-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums. Before deregulation, insurance carriers typically had the same prices and offerings for their consumers, prompting larger carriers to avoid writing policies in Massachusetts due to the strict regulation of the industry.
After the deregulation, larger carriers such as Progressive and Geico began writing policies with extremely low premiums, forcing established carriers to lower their prices in order to maintain their business. Since then, prices have risen as these larger carriers have become more familiar with paying out claims in the state. However, it is important to note that according to Fernandes’ article, repair costs and medical costs (all of which factor into claim payouts) are increasing faster in Massachusetts than across the nation as a whole, which also affect premium prices.
In her article, Fernandes quotes Deirdre Cummings, legislative Director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group who said “If you look at rates and rates are going higher, that’s not in the consumer’s favor.” Fernandes also plays devil’s advocate by acknowledging the fact that because insurance carriers are no longer regulated, they are able to offer unique services to their customers such as roadside assistance and specific discounts relating to bundling policies together, good student discounts, annual mileage discounts, etc. Fernandes then quotes Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Joe Murphy who says “It’s clear that the change in regulation has been a win for consumers”.
While Fernandes does address both sides of the argument, Joe Murphy takes issue with her analysis and wrote a response to her article. In it, he states “Year-over-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums do not provide a sound foundation for commentary about rate levels or the general health of the insurance market.” Essentially he argues that the increase in competition gives consumers the power to shop around if their premium does increase, making carriers compete for their business.
The competition also encourages insurance carriers to keep their own profits down so that they can keep premiums as low as possible. In his response, Murphy says “In the five years prior to 2012, auto insurers in Massachusetts reported virtually zero profit from underwriting, the lowest of any New England state during that same period.”
One of the most important things to take away from both articles is that while insurance premiums may be about the same as they were before deregulation, consumers now have options and the ability to shop around if their premium does go up. The power is in the hands of the consumer, and they are able to purchase policies not only based on price, but also based on coverage, available discounts, additional services, and much more.
As an independent agency, we are proud to work with many top-rated insurance companies including Commerce, Plymouth Rock, Arbella, Progressive, Safeco, Travelers, and Occidental. We give our customers options when it comes to purchasing their policy and are unbiased in the quotes we provide. Our goal is to find Massachusetts residents the policy that is right for them. So, if you’re looking to compare auto insurance rates in Massachusetts and find the best policy for you, get a free quote at MassDrive.com! Our insurance agents are extremely knowledgeable and will work to find the policy that is right for you!
Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the beginning of summer, and if you’re planning a fun weekend getaway, you’re not alone. There will be millions of drivers on the road this weekend and all of them will be eager to get to their destination. Everyone wants to make good time during travel, but it’s more important to be safe and prepared for anything. Keep these tips in mind this weekend and your drive should go smoothly, safely, and hopefully quickly!
Make sure your car is in tip top shape. If you’ll be traveling a long distance, get an oil change, make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid, make sure all of your headlights and blinkers are working properly, and make sure your tires have enough air in them.
Be prepared. Holiday travel can be very stressful, there are tons of other people on the road and anything can happen. Make sure you’re prepared by keeping an emergency kit in your car. It should include first aid, a flashlight with extra batteries, equipment to change a flat tire, water and food such as granola bars, a fire extinguisher, reflective cones, jumper cables, duct tape, and a blanket.
Plan your route. Make sure you know how often you will need to stop for gas and bathroom breaks, and map out potential rest stops and gas stations where this would be possible. It’s also a good idea to download traffic apps as many of them will tell you where these things are along your route. You also want to make sure your auto insurance is up to date and that you have all of the proper coverages you need.
Get an E-ZPass transponder. This will make your life much easier when it comes to tolls, you can just quickly pass through the toll without having to stop which will definitely save you some time compared to those drivers without an E-ZPass.
Obey the law. Make sure everyone in your car is wearing their seat belt and that you’re obeying all posted speed limits. The other thing that we want to stress is to avoid distracted driving at all costs. This can be extremely dangerous not only for yourself but for other drivers as well, so if your phone is going off or you need directions, ask the person in the passenger seat to do it and avoid getting yourself a hefty ticket. Police officers will be out in full force this weekend so make sure you’re obeying the law. Nothing like getting a ticket to start your weekend off on the wrong foot.
Use a designated driver. If you plan on drinking this is a no-brainer. Technically the legal limit is a blood-alcohol level under .08. Drunk driving tends to increase over the holiday weekend, and as we said police will be out in full-force looking for drivers endangering themselves and others. We want everyone to have an enjoyable weekend, but we want them to do it responsibly.
This weekend is sure to be full of family, friends, food, and fun in the sun! Enjoy the weekend but make sure you’re prepared for anything and most of all drive responsibly!
Ever wonder who’s there to help you at MassDrive? Meet Shawn! Shawn is an account manager here at MassDrive and he understands that most people buying auto insurance aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for or what is most important in a policy. Luckily, Shawn is a great resource when it comes to car insurance – he’ll have you telling him what you need and finding you options in no time.
As he says above, Shawn loves to talk – he had all of us behind camera captivated as he spoke about his experiences with MassDrive. We learned a lot about what it takes to be a great MassDrive agent, as well as a bit about Shawn himself! Watch the video above to learn more about Shawn and MassDrive!
These past few days we have experienced some serious humidity here in Massachusetts. Walking to your car in the blazing sun can be rough enough, and once you get there the inside of the car is usually hotter than it was outside. So how can you keep your car cool when temperatures are on the rise? An air conditioner is great once you are inside the car, but they do take a few minutes to kick in and keeping your car cool in the first place will make it much more pleasant when you initially begin your drive. There are plenty of accessories for cars that can help keep them cool, and luckily most of them are very affordable. Check out these following items that will definitely come in handy when it comes to beating the heat!
Window Deflectors – Ever been stuck in a car with no air conditioner? That alone can be rough especially if you are sitting in traffic and there’s not much of a breeze. If it starts raining that can really make things worse, your choices are either get soaked with the windows down or swelter and stay dry with the windows up. Window deflectors, also known as rain guards offer the perfect solution. They stick to the top of car windows and prevent rain from getting inside the car even if you have the windows down. Prices vary based on the model of your vehicle, but most window deflectors range from $40-$70. AutoAnything is great site with many different options and they offer free shipping on 99% of their products! Since window deflectors vary in size and shape based on different vehicle models, it is unlikely that you would be able to find one in a store so this is a great option!
Sun Shade – We’ve all seen cars with these gigantic shades across the windshield, and although they are kind of goofy looking, they really are effective in keeping the car’s interior cool. The best part? They are one of the most affordable things you can buy for your car, you can find them on Amazon for as little as $4.99! Amazon is a great site because they literally have everything you could imagine for sale and the products are constantly changing so there is always a new selection! Sizes can vary, so be sure to check which ones are available. Reading the customer reviews is a great resource because they will definitely give you an honest opinion and tell you the pros and cons of your potential purchase. There are also some custom sun shades available which are a bit more expensive but worth it if you want to ensure that your windshield is completely shielded from the sun. If you want to have some fun with your purchase check out the various colorful designs that are available as well!
Seat Covers – Leather seats are considered a luxury, but sitting in a car with leather seats can be painful in the summer. Leather will get much hotter than velour seats, especially if it is black leather. A simple (and stylish) solution are seat covers! They last for years and come in various designs that protect the upholstery in your car while also preventing your legs from sticking to the seats! ShearComfort is a seat cover retailer where you can search for seat covers based on the make of the car or by style. You can have a lot of fun with the various designs and materials such as sheepskin, hawaiian, velour, animal print, and neoprene. All of their seat covers are custom and made from high quality fabrics. They are also washable and very easy to install without any special tools. This company has been in business for 29 years and guarantee the lowest price on their merchandise. Prices vary based on the vehicle but a pair of seat covers for the driver and passenger side is about $150 on average.
Steering Wheel Cover – Similar to leather seats, steering wheels get extremely hot in the summer sun, sometimes so hot that it is painful to steer! Steering wheel covers are a great solution and not only are they perfect for summer, they are awesome for winter as well! They will keep your wheel cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and can be found for $15-$20 on average. If you are planning on getting seat covers, ShearComfort also offers steering wheel covers that match! If you already have velour seats and are just looking for the steering wheel cover, they have a wide selection of designs and patterns ranging from camo to animal print to sheepskin and hawaiian.
Keep cool this summer and check out some of these products for your car, not only will they add some relief from the summer sun but many of them come in different designs that you can have some fun with! Avoid some real heat and make sure that your Massachusetts auto insurance policy is up to date as well! Call or click on MassDrive for a quote, we work with many major carriers in Massachusetts so you will be sure to get the best rate!
Renting a home or apartment can be extremely overwhelming and confusing for anyone. A lot of tenants worry about what would happen should there ever be a loss in their building or home. Many believe that their landlord’s policy would cover them, and in a sense it would, but only in terms of the dwelling. Your landlord’s policy will cover the entire home, but it won’t cover any of your personal property inside the unit. Getting renter’s insurance can provide tenants will some serious peace of mind. Not only will their personal property be protected (as long as the loss is covered), but they will also be protected if they are responsible for bodily injury or property damage to others. Who wouldn’t want that weight off of their shoulders? Especially since renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive (roughly a couple of hundred per month), and even less if you split the cost with a roommate.
So what exactly would be covered under renter’s insurance? It varies from company to company but all renter’s insurance policies provide “named peril” coverage which means that your policy will specifically tell you what you are covered for. If your personal property is stolen, damaged, or destroyed by certain types of “peril” including fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, explosions, smoke, vandalism, theft, electrical surge damage, water-related damage from home utilities, and even more, a renter’s insurance policy would likely cover you and repair or replace said property. Many people believe that flood insurance is also included in renter’s insurance, however it is not. You can add flood coverage to your policy for a reasonable price through most insurance companies. Be sure to read through your insurance contract for explanations and exclusions regarding specific types of coverage.
Another suggestion would be to make sure you are covered for replacement cost content. Replacement cost content does cost a bit more, but is definitely worth it in the long run. This coverage ensures that if your property is damaged, you will be reimbursed for the actual cost that you originally paid for the item, whereas if you do not pay the extra for replacement cost content and your property is damaged, you will only be paid for what your property was worth at the time it was damaged or stolen. For example if your computer originally cost $1000 but has depreciated in value over the past few years, you will not be reimbursed the $1000 that you originally paid for it unless you have replacement cost coverage.
In the long run, renter’s insurance is extremely affordable and will ensure that thousands of dollars worth of property are insured and will cover medical costs (up to a certain amount) should a guest get injured in your home. How much would it cost to replace your computer, TV, any other electronics, clothes, furniture, cooking supplies, books, etc should your apartment burn down? At least a few thousand dollars and who can afford that? Not only will renter’s insurance repair/replace your property, many times it will also cover the cost of meals and a hotel should you be displaced from your home.
There are many potential threats to personal property, but renter’s insurance is the best defense and will ensure that you don’t have to replace your posessions from scratch should a disaster occur. To get the best deal, bundle your renter’s and auto insurance together! Most companies offer a multi-policy discount and that way you will get the most bang for your buck. If you’re renting your own home or apartment and are looking for insurance in Massachusetts, contact MassDrive today for a quote!
Snow driving is one of the hallmarks of residing in Massachusetts. For some, driving in the snow is the next great adventure, for others, it’s a terrifying experience. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s no denying that snow plows are a lifesaver during a storm. Helping remove snow and ensure safety, snow plows make it possible to get around during the winter months.
Plowing is done according to a hierarchy of importance – small public alleys, side streets and dead ends are the last to be plowed, so be sure to watch out if you live on any of these routes and plan accordingly during storms!
Keep your distance, don’t assume plow drivers can see you. Their field of vision is limited – in addition to the blind spots of a traditional car, the snow that a snow plow stirs up may also limit the driver’s visibility. To be safe, stay 70 feet (4 car lengths) from the plow truck so the driver can see you.
Use extreme caution when passing a plow. There are no laws prohibiting drivers from passing a snow plow on the road, but it is extremely dangerous to do so. The wing plow blades of any given truck can extend 2 to 10 feet beyond the width of the truck, and are often hard to see because of the snow they push to the sides while plowing. Sometimes weighing as much as a compact car, you don’t want to hit one of these guys. If you must, snow plows push snow to the right, so avoid passing them on this side.
Turn on your lights. See and be seen by keeping your headlights on while driving in the snow.
Following these tips will help you drive safely and soundly around plows this winter, however, accidents do happen especially in winter conditions. If you do get in an accident, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recommends that you assess the scene – is anyone hurt? Are you stranded? If so, or if if you feel you need to, call 911. If possible, move your vehicle off the road to clear the way for other drivers, and stay in your vehicle – it is safer than being outside during a storm. If it is dark, make sure to keep your light on with the engine running, but make sure to crack a window to keep fresh air circulating through your car – you never know if your exhaust pipe is blocked. If it’s light out, turn off your engine. Keep your circulation moving while you’re in the car by moving around and huddling for warmth, and if need be – make your car visible to rescuers. If you get in accident with another vehicle, make sure to exchange information, including your auto insurance information to settle any damage claims.
Driving in the snow can be dangerous, but sometimes it is necessary. When driving in a storm with plows, keep these tips in mind. Stay safe this winter!
The holidays! What’s not to love? There’s great music, pretty lights, parties aplenty and, if you’re lucky, a great gift waiting for you under some adorable holiday-themed paper. The holiday season does come its share of challenges amongst the joy, and one of my least favorites is holiday travel in Massachusetts and its surroundings, and all the traffic that goes along with it.
Like any good journey, the holiday travel season requires some thinking ahead and preparation. Make sure you’re prepared to hit the road with these Massachusetts holiday travel and safety tips.
Be Mindful of Massachusetts Law
In the state of Massachusetts, all occupants of your vehicle are required to wear seat belts. Make sure you have a seat and working belt for every passenger and yourself when traveling this holiday.
The speed limit on most Massachusetts highways is 65mph, however, some can be as low as 55mph. Leave with plenty of time to get where you’re going this holiday season and pay attention to the speed limit – nothing says “Bah Humbug!” like shelling out for a speeding ticket.
If you hit any rotaries on your journey, remember to yield to those already in the rotary when entering and always enter to the right.
Texting while driving has been banned in Massachusetts. Let it wait until you get there or you could face $100-$500 in fines, depending on whether it is your first offense. This applies to when you’re stopped at red lights. Again, nothing says “Bah Humbug!” like a hefty ticket. Or a crash, for that matter.
Be Ready for the Road
Sign up to get a free FAST LANE transponder and cruise through the tolls on the Turnpike, the Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels, and the Tobin Memorial Bridge on the way to Grandma’s. If you’re heading out of state, your FAST LANE transponder can be used anywhere E-ZPass is accepted.
New England weather is unpredictable, so make sure you’ve winterized your car. Snow tires, an ice scraper, and perhaps a foldable shovel will keep you safe on wintery roads.
With a lot of people on the road, wintery conditions and the stress of the holidays, anything can happen. Make sure you’re covered with auto insurance.
Have Fun! But Not Too Much Fun…
Turn up the Christmas music while you travel! Most stations will play Christmas music mixed in with their standards, but there are a few stations that play strictly holiday themed music. In Massachusetts, Oldies 103.3 and 105.7 WROR play Christmas music round the clock, and WROR has an adorable segment where kids can call into Santa.
Plan ahead if you plan on drinking, and make sure have a designated driver for when you need to get home. The legal limit is a blood-alcohol content under .08. Drunk driving increases over the holidays, and Massachusetts police will be on the lookout for drunk drivers. Not only does driving under the influence put you in danger of getting arrested, it puts everyone you pass on the road in danger. Err on the side of safety and avoid a drunk driving accident by making sure you have a sober ride home.
Regardless of what you’re celebrating or where you are celebrating, we wish you safe and easy travel and a very happy holiday season!
When a teenager brings home their driving learner’s permit there are mixed feelings felt throughout the household. Teenagers ecstatic, their freedom and independence from mom and dad has become a reality. Parents on the other hand need to think about their child – and possibly vehicle’s – safety, insurance, a new/ used or shared vehicle, and new rules. Before a teenager is licensed it’s important to know about insurance needs and teenage driving laws. Read the following bullets for a good overview of what you need to know concerning teen drivers & insurance:
Be prepared to insure your teenager: Massachusetts requires, by law, that once your teenager earns their licnese and is living in the same household you must add them to your policy. This is something you should talk to your auto insurance agent about when your teenager earns their learner’s permit.
For the lucky ones – choosing a vehicle: Know when purchasing a vehicle for your teen you need to focus on not only how much it will cost to insure, but it’s safety as well. An article by the Milford Daily News pointed out that SUVs have a higher roll over rate as they have a higher center of gravity. The article explained that the size of an SUV may give teenagers a false sense of security although they are more prone to roll overs. Smaller vehicles, such as a two door coupe, carry the risk of more serious injuries and fatalities. Researching crash test results, safety reviews, and road tests will help you determine what vehicle is right for your teenager.
Know your premium will go up: Auto insurance premiums depend on a number of factors including: year, make and model of the insured vehicle, number of years licensed, zip code/ location, etcetera. Be prepared to pay an extra premium as teenage drivers are a higher risk to insure and can be costly when adding to a policy.
Be aware of Massachusetts learner’s permit laws: If your teenager is younger than 18 years they will be driving with a Junior Permit. For the first six months of driving your teenager may not drive friends unless a licensed driver of 21 years or more is in the front passenger seat. Until age 18 your teenager is restricted from driving between 12:30 and 5a.m. unless with a guardian. On the first offense violating this curfew a teenager will face a $100 fine and 60- day license suspension. Speeding is another great concern for teen drivers thus Massachusetts has imposed strict laws with serious consequences if caught speeding on a junior licnese. When a teenager receives his or her first speeding ticket they will face: a 90 day licnese suspension, $50 licnese reinstatement fee, required to take a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course and State Courts Against Road Rage course (costing approximately $75 each), and must pass the learner’s permit exam and road exam.
Advanced driving courses = benefits: Advanced driving courses, although not required to gain or maintain a licnese, these courses give young drivers better knowledge of what to be aware of while driving. Additionally, various auto insurance carriers will give discounts to those who have completed an advanced driving course.
The Gumball 3000, an international race of some of the fastest vehicles on the road, tore through Boston this past Wednesday. The road rally began in London May 1st continuing through Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, overseas to the United States through Boston, looping up into Canada and rounding back to end the seven day seven night race in New York.
Massachusetts state troopers ticketed drivers on I-93 north, Route 128 south, neat the route 3 interchange, and on Route 3 north and I-495 north. Eleven drivers were ticketed total, seven for speeding, one for taking photos while driving and another for excessive noise. Another couple tickets included failing to move for an emergency vehicle and a lane violation.
David Procopio, state police spokesman, said they consider the race a threat to public safety. Officials have been alerted throughout the United States and Canada along routes the Gumball 3000 drivers are expected to navigate. This has to make you wonder… how many tickets are these drivers written before crossing the finish line? Their next auto insurance premium is going to be through the roof!