Massachusetts Legislation

Massachusetts Improves Energy Efficiency

As the nation faces rising energy prices, concerns for a long term energy source, and supply restrictions our nation strives to find more reliable and efficient energy sources. Massachusetts climbed to the second most energy efficient state this year according to the 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard used by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The states were evaluated by six different categories.  Massachusetts brought in a proud 44.6 points out of a possible 50. The Council’s use of scorecards in ranking of states has encouraged the development of more efficient, eco-friendly energy sources throughout the nation.

Massachusetts is the perfect example of such competition. The Green Communities Act implemented this last year, requires businesses to exclusivly buy energy efficient products and services. These eco-friendly products and services have lower cost than others would use to produce electricity. Under the Green Communities Act the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council was also formed. Much of the credit for Massachusett’s jump to second place belongs to the Council’s approved three year $1.6 billion budget to find more efficient energy sources.

Drunk Driving and the Consequences

Drunk driving can lead to more intense consequences than you may thing. From fines and jail time to a suspended license and interlock devices the penalties are harsh. Once convicted of a OUI or DWI insurance companies see you as too big of a risk and may choose to drop you from their coverage. You can bet your search search for auto insurance after drunk driving charges will include sky high premiums.

On the first offense Massachusetts drunk driving laws mandate a fine from $500 to $5,000 and/ or face up to  two and a half years in prison after driving with a blood-alcohol-content of .08 or more. Not only will you face these hardships, but your license will be suspended for a full year.

On your second offense the consequences are more sever. A second conviction comes with: guaranteed jail time of at least 60 days no more than two and a half years, fine of $6,000 – $10,000, suspended license for 2 years, and an interlock device installed in your car. If the first offense consequences didn’t deter you from drunk driving, the second offense punishment should.

After a night at the bar or drinks at a firend’s house, do yourself a favor and call a taxi. The cash spent on cab fare may have just saved you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you would have been caught driving under the influence.

Mass Hospital Surcharge Down

Massachusetts government has slightly lowered the hospital surcharge paid to hospitals and ambulatory surgical care centers. Hospital surcharges paid on or after October 1st have dropped from 2% to 1.9%.

“The surcharge is imposed on third-party claims administrators, health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and employers nationwide that administer their own health fare plans.” – Massachusetts Lowers Hospital Surcharge.

The surcharge was previously used to reimburse hospitals care given touninsured patients. Now under a new health reform the surcharges will gradually shift from paying the hospitals to subsidizing premiums for health insurance of the lower-income and uninsured.

Managed Compeition… Success.

April 1st 2008 Massachusetts let the auto insurance industry loose. Shifting from state regulated rates to a managed competition many changes were brought to the Massachusetts auto insurance industry and consumers.

A study by the Department of Insurance analyzing this change included: a preliminary survey of 1,100 consumers, a comprehensive 30-minute survey of more than 4,500 drivers and one-on-one interviews with over 50 insurance agents and executives. This study has shown the overall shift to managed competition to be a positive step for the average Massachusetts auto insurance consumer.

The study showed in the first year of managed competition….

  • Massachusetts drivers saved over $270 million in auto insurance premiums.
  • The auto insurance premium dropped by an average of 8.2 percent.
  • Nine new insurance companies entered the Massachusetts auto insurance market. These new companies entering sparked a competition among themselves, bringing lower rates and better service options to customers.
  • There was a 13% decrease in the number of uninsured cars on Mass roads.

As many consumers saved bundles on affordable auto insurance rates, only three out of four consumers were aware of the insurance market change. The government realizes the lack of knowledge consumers have concerning the new auto insurance industry and hopes to educate the public with more education and outreach.

Open Seat in Massachusetts Senate

The race to fill the late Congressman Edward Kennedy’s seat has sparked a anything but a mediocre election. A seat in the Massachusetts Senate hasn’t been open for decades. With the Massachusetts health legislation in pieces, Democrats and Republicans are up for a tough election. The newly elected Senator will be decided the first of December, the date of the Democratic primary.

As the race endures Governor Deval Patrick has appointed Paul Kirk as an interm, temporarily filling the late Senator’s seat. Paul Kirk,  a graduate of Harvard Law School, will fill the position until January when a newly elected Senator assumes office.

Cancelling Your Auto Insurance

Write it on a post it note. Program it into your phone. Leave yourself a voice mail at home. What ever it takes, don’t allow your auto insurance to lapse.

Here are a few things to remember about auto insurance cancellations:

  • Driving with out insurance is illegal. Should anything happen while you’re driving, not only will the violation be added to your driving record with a citation, raising your insurance rates – if you’re at fault for an accident, all damages your insurance company would have paid will come straight out of your pocket.
  • You don’t need to wait for renewal time to cancel a policy. Shopping around to find another policy with better rates is a great idea. No need to wait until your current policy is up to start saving.
  • Never ever ignore your insurance bill. Ignoring your insurance bill may be cause for cancellation due to non-payment. When this occurs not only will future insurance companies see you as a higher risk, they may ask you to pay the full insurance amount up front.
  • Cancellation must be done in writing. When you notify your current insurance company of your cancellation allow a reasonable amount of time for cancellation. When notifying the company, be sure and include the date you would like cancellation to take place giving yourself peace of mind for when you’re old coverage is up and your new one is to begin.

Why You Need More Than the Minimums

Auto insurance is anything but optional. Not only should you want to have car insurance, the sate requires drivers to purchase it. Two important coverages, among others, Massachusetts requires drivers to have are Property Damage and Liability Coverage.

Property damage covers damages the insured has caused to someone else property. Massachusetts state minimum for property damage is $5,000. This covers everything from street lamps and stop signs to other vehicles. Maybe you didn’t realize you were speeding when an oil spot sent you spinning into that Bentley… you’re still responsible for the damages and that $5,000 of coverage isn’t gong to do much. To be safe you should consider at least $100,000 of property coverage.

A second minimum coverage set by the state is Liability coverage. This includes bodily injury and property damage to others.  Maybe the state minimum will cover one person in a minor accident. But what if it was more than a fender bender? Or maybe there were passangers in the car you collide with? When multiple people are involved, or even just one in a decent accident – the $40,000 minimum state coverage isn’t likely going to cover all of the hospital bills, operations, medications, and therapy your accident incurred.

If you choose to only insure yourself to the state minmums, remember you are responsible for all expenses past what your insurance covers. Find out more about Massachusetts state minimum insurance requirements on the Massachusetts Division of Insurance Webpage.

MassDOT reform with Jeff Mullan

Governor Deval Pattrick announced this month he will appoint Jeff Mullan as the new Secretary and CEO of MassDOT. Jeff Mullan will begin his new position November 1st. Welcomed with the new position he will overlook  the Massachusetts Department Of Transportation reform.

The new transportation system will condense it’s current operations into four divisions: highway, transit, aeronautics, and RMV. In addition to these four divisions is the Department of Planning and Programming, responsible for planning the state’s network of roads, bridges, tunnels, and airports.

To watch a video of Govenor Deval Pattrick and Jeff Mullan’s statements click here.

Emission Standards Increase

Standards for motor vehicles and light trucks accelerated  this month when a whopping 35.5 mpg by 2016 requirement was set. The previous emissions requirement of 35 mpg by 2020 set  by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 just wasn’t enough for Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson claims  the savings of this advancement will be great for consumers. According to Jackson, the new accelerated standard would reduce oil consumption by about 1.8 billion barrels between 2012 and 2016, stop greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 42 million cars, and save the average auto consumer more than $3,000 in fuel costs. – “That Clean Car Smell”

In other words, look forward to a cleaner environment and a heavier checkbook.

What Massachusetts Gov't Has to Say About Texting & Driving

Massachusetts DOT has an extensive  list of driving distractions they’ve been aware of for quite some time. From drinking and driving to music on the radio, Massachusetts government is moving texting to the top of that list.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approximately, “80 percent of all accidents are caused by driver inattention.” (DOT to you: Don’t Text and Drive). With technology advancing at lightning speed we have everything from the radio and video displays to our cell phones to distract us.

A recent study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that found  drivers who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to crash or get into a near-accident than undistracted driver. (Senators Push Nation Wide Ban On Texting While Driving)

Massachusetts Department of Transportation is serious about cutting down distractions. Currently 17 states ban texting and driving, is Massachusetts next? Keep a close eye out September 30th and October 1st when the U.S. Department of transportation convenes in Washington D.C. to discuss it.

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