Toyota drivers involved in recent recalls have worried about how this will affect their auto insurance coverage and premiums. Although a standard auto insurance policy does not exclude vehicles damaged while under recall, drivers may face additional surcharges and/ or costs if they were involved in an at fault accident. Thankfully Massachusetts residents have the option to appeal a court decision over an at fault accident, a privilege that was almost taken away by the former Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance Nonnie Burnes.
Burnes felt, according to an article by William Lapointe, that with the newly deregulated market drivers would be able to shop around and find lower rates thus making no need for an appeals board as the driver may simply switch carriers. Massachusetts residents were weary of this measure to eliminate the Board of Appeals, however the final push to keep the Board came when the spot light focused on the fact that if a driver was assessed fault of an accident, although they have the ability to chose a different carrier their SDIP, or license point assessment, would remain the same. Pressure from the public, legislators and lobbyists was enough to force the government to maintain the Board of Appeals.
The Massachusetts Board of Appeals hears approximately 50,000 cases in a year from drivers who believe they were wrongly assessed the blame for an at fault accident. On average about half of the appeals are overturned and the at-fault-accident is removed from the driver’s record as well as surcharges by a driver’s insurance company.
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance issued a Consumer Alert announcing hearings for drivers who appealed a decision prior to the recall would be reopened. The Massachusetts Board of Appeals was not previously aware of the manufacturer’s defect and is looking to overturn any court decisions a Toyota driver may feel was wrongly determined with the new knowledge of the nation wide recall. After an at fault accident a driver should automatically receive a notice for their right to appeal the decision.
Appeal hearings are open to the public and for the most part informal. A written appeal is read by the hearing officer and after this is read the driver will proceed to make his or her case for the appeal. It is also good to be aware that a representative for the insurance carrier will also be present. A person’s driving record is one of the most important determinants of auto insurance premiums. Do not take it lightly if you have been wrongly assessed fault of an accident.