How to successfully appeal a Massachusetts auto insurance (SDIP) surcharge

By | April 9, 2010

My wife was involved in an auto accident last September which was not her fault — she opened the door of her parked car after confirming that no one was coming, and another driver came whipping around a corner and hit her door.  Her insurance company found her liable for the accident and issued an SDIP surcharge, because the regulations state that the person opening the door is assumed to be at fault whenever an accident like this occurs (just like the person in back is assumed to be at fault whenever one car rear-ends another).

Everyone with whom my wife spoke about the surcharge told her not to bother appealing.  Several people claimed to have waged unsuccessful appeals when they were not at fault.  The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that the system is rigged against drivers.  Nevertheless, I insisted that she appeal and even ghost-wrote her affidavit (we chose to appeal in writing rather than attending the hearing).

Today we received a notice that my wife “did demonstrate a showing necessary to rebut the governing presumption of the applicable standard of fault,” and the surcharge was vacated.  Woohoo!

Here’s the affidavit I wrote for her which was successful at getting the surcharge overturned:

March 19, 2010

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Insurance / Board of Appeal
1000 Washington Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Attn: Statement Section

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for the opportunity to present my case for your consideration.

The open door of my parked Honda Odyssey minivan was hit by another driver.

I checked that the roadway was clear immediately before opening my door. No cars were in sight.

I then opened my door all the way and placed one foot on the pavement before suddenly realizing that there was another vehicle about to hit my door. I had time to pull my leg all the way back in and partially shut my door before that occurred, such that I was not injured and the only damage to my minivan was slight damage to my door’s trim.

When you consider the time that it took me to open my door all the way at a normal speed (i.e., I didn’t throw it open quickly or anything), put one foot on the pavement, realize that a vehicle had “come out of nowhere” and was about to hit mine, pull my leg fully back into my minivan, and close my door more than halfway, it should be obvious that the other vehicle (a) could not have been close to mine when this sequence of events started and (b) was probably traveling at an excessive speed and possibly not paying attention.

Here is a satellite photo of where the accident occurred:

I have marked where my car was legally and properly parked, only a couple of inches from the curb, with a red rectangle. I would like to call your attention to two features of this scenario:

  1. Note how wide the single traffic lane is on that part of Faneuil Street, which is one-way. In a traffic lane that wide, any car driving close enough to the parking lane to clip a door was being driven negligently.
  2. As I noted above, I did not see the other vehicle when I checked the roadway before opening my door, nor do I have any direct knowledge of where it came from. However, it seems likely to me that the vehicle either turned right from Bigelow Street onto Faneuil Street as shown by the blue arrow in the photo, or left from N435 onto Faneuil Street as shown by the green arrow. In either case, it appears that the other driver made the turn too quickly and/or without paying sufficient attention and did not notice my already open door until it was too late for him to avoid colliding with it.

Given all these details, I think it is clear that I was not responsible for this accident.

Thank you again for taking the time to consider my appeal.

Sincerely,

Andrea Kamens

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266 thoughts on “How to successfully appeal a Massachusetts auto insurance (SDIP) surcharge

  1. Pamela Greene

    Hello,
    I was in an accident on April 7, 2016 on Concord Ave in Cambridge, going west between the 2 rotaries heading toward the Fresh Pond parkway. There was a nasty heavy rain that afternoon around 4:15 PM. Traffic was pretty well jammed and I needed to get into the left lane in order to make the left turn in the second rotary to go toward Belmont.
    I waited in the right lane with my blinker on and for two cars to pass. I then carefully merged into the left lane when I saw that the Jeep coming up was MORE than a full car length away and I thought the driver of the Jeep was waiting for me. Apparently he was not waiting for me and hit my left front fender with his tire.
    Rather than tie up traffic I pulled into the Dunkin Donuts and exchanged papers with the other driver.
    He complained that traffic was horrible and that it took him over 1 hour to get to Fresh Pond from Boston Common. In my opinion he was just frustrated and decided he was not going to let me go. I have an excellent driving record and do not believe that I am more than 50% at fault. The damage to my car was less than $2,000 and the other driver did not have a scratch as he hit me with is tire.
    Do you think I have a case for an appeal? I don’t want to pay $50.00 to submit an appeal and then have to go to court if it is going to get rejected.
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      What standard of fault did the surcharge notice you were sent specify?

      Reply
        1. Pamela Greene

          I should also mention that my car was pretty much entirely in the left lane before he hit me. I’m pretty sure he was almost up on the median.

          Reply
        2. jik Post author

          I don’t know what “05” means. Did it say anything else?

          Reply
          1. Pamela Greene

            Yes, the explanation was OUT OF LAND COLLISION.
            Would it help if I send you a copy of the Surcharge Notice?

            Reply
            1. jik Post author

              I assume you mean “out of lane collision.”

              See https://www.massrmv.com/MeritRatingBoard/SafeDriverInsurancePlanRegulation/TheStandardsofFault.aspx .

              So you were cited basically for changing lanes unsafely. To overturn the surcharge, you will have to convince the appeal board that when you started changing lanes, there was a big enough gap in the lane next to you, and the other driver accelerated into that gap and hit you after you started changing lanes.

              Remember that you don’t have to convince the appeal board that you are 0% at fault to overturn the surcharge. You only need to convince the appeal board that you are less than 50% at fault. In other words, while how cautious you were is relevant, how cautious (or not) the other driver was is also relevant, perhaps even more so. If the other driver could have and should have easily avoided hitting you, and didn’t, then you’re less than 50% at fault.

              If you think you can make a convincing argument to that effect, then you should appeal.

              But when you appeal, don’t say things like, “I thought the driver of the Jeep was waiting for me. Apparently he was not waiting for me and hit my left front fender with his tire.” This is not a place for uncertainty or ambiguity. Don’t second-guess yourself. If you think your decision to switch lanes was valid and correct and the other driver shouldn’t have hit you, then that’s what you say.

              If you don’t think that, i.e., if in retrospect you actually believe you made a mistake, then don’t appeal, because that means the surcharge was correct.

            2. Pamela Greene

              Thank you very much.. I will appeal.

  2. Jasmine

    Hello,
    So I am wondering whether or not I should appeal an accident where I was found to be more than 50% at fault and would love to get some advice on whether or not I should do it? Late at night a few weeks ago, around 11:30 pm I had been driving home after just picking my boyfriend up from work and was right outside of my house. When my neighbor, who NEVER has their dog on a leash despite there being a leash law in Massachusetts, let their dog out and it ran in front of my car. I tried to break and swerve out of the way so I wouldn’t hit the dog and ended up hitting a pole on my property. I received a letter from insurance agency telling me that according to the Standard of Fault Code 19 I am liable solely because I was the only vehicle involved in a collision. I was wondering if I should attempt to appeal it because I see nothing that I could have done differently that would have resulted in no damage to my car, since even if I did hit the dog I would still have damaged my car. Also it seems a bit ridiculous to me to blame someone for a car accident when it resulted because of someone else’s negligence of the law by not keeping their dog on a leash. There was absolutely nothing I could have done differently to keep my car perfectly intact so I am at a loss to see how this is my fault. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  3. Janet

    I’m wondering if you can give me your opinion about whether it is worthwhile to file an appeal in the following situation. There is no doubt that my son was 100% at fault in the accident, however, I’m wondering if there may be a chance to win on the issue of “due caution” in the following circumstances. I’ll try to be clear with the facts!

    My son was at a stop sign and in the process of making a left turn. He stopped. To make the turn, he needed to cross 2 lanes of traffic on his left. There was a lot of traffic and everyone was traveling slowly. After he stopped, he inched up to check traffic on his left. The car in the first lane of oncoming traffic (closest to him) stopped for him to turn left. He inched up further and looked to his right to check traffic – and traffic was clear. He then looked to his left again but because of the car that had stopped for him did not see the car coming in the 2nd lane. He hit that car as he turned left.

    Thanks for letting me know your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      It doesn’t sound clear-cut to me that your son “was 100% at fault in the accident.” It sounds to me like he can make a good case that he exercised due caution and the driver who hit him didn’t. It’s by no means a slam-dunk, but if your son thinks he was sufficiently careful and the only reason why he was hit was because the other driver wasn’t, then I think it’s worth appealing the surcharge.

      Note that you get a surcharge if you are more than 50% at fault. So your son doesn’t have to convince the appeal board that he was 0% at fault. All he has to do is convince them that he shares equal blame with the driver who hit him. Equal blame means 50% at fault each, not more than 50%, so that would be sufficient to get the surcharge overturned.

      I’m not saying that because I think you should get into that math at the appeal. Don’t do that. 🙂 If your son thinks he did everything he could to avoid the accident, then he should appeal the surcharge and tell the board that.

      Reply
      1. Lisa

        Hi there!

        I was in a car accident back in December of 2015 where my front left tire popped on the highway and sent me swerving off in circles and hitting the guard rail before coming to a stop. I did have minor injuries but thankful it was nothing major due to wearing my seatbelt.

        I don’t feel I am more than 50% at fault because it was a natural accident. I was not speeding as the posted speed limit was 65 mph, and I was barely going 60 mph. It was a clear winter night with dry roads. I have received my court date for the appeal and was wondering what your thoughts were on me attending versus me sending in a letter. Also, do you have any thoughts on what I can write or say other than the truth that I described above to help me beat this surcharge?

        Thank you in advance for any advice you are able to provide.

        Reply
        1. Lisa

          Hi!

          I also forgot to mention no other cars were involved. It was a one car collision resulting in my car being totaled due to crashing into the guard rail.

          Thanks,

          Lose

          Reply
        2. jik Post author

          I’m frankly not sure how the appeals board views tire blowouts, so I don’t have great advice. All I can tell you is that if I were you, I’d probably appeal, show up in person, and just explain what happened.

          Reply
  4. Subra

    Hi
    Firstly, kudos on doing a great job helping a lot of people with their appeals. As you might have already figured I have an incident about which I want to get your opinion.

    I had a single car incident on a snowy day. Here are the details, I was driving into a smaller street from a main road which did not have any street lamps. There was no snow on the main road and there was lot of black ice on the smaller road. I was less than the actual speed limit, was driving at aroung 8-10 mph. I had to make a right turn and that is when the skid happened. I slided slowly ( it seemed like slow motion action replay for me inside car ) and hit a curb on the road. This resulted in a dent. I spoke to the insurance and they advised me to go with the claim and appeal the surcharge ( stating that I had a good chance of overturning the surcharge/ points). I collected the photos which clearly show the segments of the road with black ice , the lane having no lights, bad weather report in news papers. I can vouch that I had been driving cautiously and this that happened was not due to my negligence.
    Can you advise me if going for appeal is the right decision ? I thank you for the help.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      I’d appeal if I were you.

      It’s not a sure thing, but I think there’s a good chance you can get the surcharge removed.

      Reply
      1. Subra

        Thanks Jik for the confidence booster. I have the following for evidence :

        Lane without lights.
        Photos of the place with black ice.
        News for the day reporting a snow of 4.5 inches

        Can you help me identify any missing pieces that might bolster my argument ?

        I appreciate your help and time.

        Reply
  5. Jennifer Vant

    Hi,
    I parked my mini-van in front of my house on a wide side street at the end of a cul-de-sac before you pull out onto a main road. Three of my kids were inside (a 7 and 5 year old in the way back and a 3 year old in the back). I left my driver’s side door ajar and went to grab my mail from my mailbox. While I was on the other side of the car, a car came barreling down the road and even though there was plenty of room to go around my ajar door, he hit it bending it all the way forward and then processed to not even brake and never mind stop before pulling onto the 2ndary road at the end of the street. So it was a hit and run. My insurance company informed me that if the damage turns out to be more than my deductible (which it is, about $3k-$4 and that’s without knowing if there is any “hidden damage”) then I will receive a surcharge b/c in MA you are presumed over 50% at fault if an open door is hit. Do you think this is something a magistrate would overturn considering the speed, clear lack of attention, and fact that the other driver hit and ran? Or should I just pay the surcharge?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      I’m having a hard time following your description of where your car was, where the other car came from, etc. Can you draw a diagram and upload it somewhere public (like a public Dropbox sharing link) and share the link here?

      Reply
        1. jik Post author

          Yes, I think you should appeal the surcharge. The fact that you were on the other side of the car when your door was hit suggests that your door was open for a significant amount of time before it was hit, which means that there was plenty of time for the other driver to see and avoid your door. You’re not at fault, and you shouldn’t be surcharged.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            It was my inclination to appeal, because my understanding of the purpose of the law is for someone who opens their door without looking and the other car then can’t avoid hitting it which was clearly not the case here. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Thanks for your opinion on this!

            Reply
  6. Arun

    Hello,
    I had a minor accident last month, while taking a left turn.
    Turn was initiated after making sure that , traffic from both sides of road is i am entering is nil.
    after my car reached midsection of road, i inspected again right to make sure , no cars are coming out of a highway exit on my right, after that i was about to complete my turn. as soon as i turned head to left again, a car was right there on my path about to collide. i steered car to my left again to avoid it. But it hit me on my passenger side on head lights corner. This car could have negligently come from opposite road and could have being carelessly making a left turn. After incident other care left scene with out stopping. Since it was dark i was not able to note licence number. I called police and they reached scene.
    Now insurance is putting my at fault as ‘ 08 Failure to Proceed with Due Caution from a Traffic Control Signal or Sign’
    This is unfortunate since , i followed all traffic rules and cautious while making turn.
    How can i appeal this ?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      The insurance company found you at fault because you were involved in one of the kinds of accidents in which they are required to find you at fault by default.

      You should appeal. If you present your case in clear, straightforward language with a clear, straightforward diagram illustrating what happened, your appeal will almost certainly be successful. Your message should be that you did, in fact, proceed with due caution, at a reasonable speed with all of the required checking to ensure that there were no oncoming vehicles before you made your turn, and the other driver came out of nowhere and hit you.

      I recommend appealing in writing, not attending a hearing in person.

      Your description above is neither clear nor straightforward. Get someone who is a better communicator / writer than you are to help write your appeal letter.

      Reply
      1. Arun

        hi , how long did it take from submitting initial appeal and getting a final decision after hearing?

        Reply
  7. anonymous

    Hi
    Im 16 years old and I just got my license and bought a new 2015 car. A few weeks after I was driving my friend to the mall and we were on our way back home and I was getting out of the exit on to the highway and it was traffic time. And I wanted to switch to the left lane because I always think that far right lane will always bring you to an exit. So I put my left blinker on and the car was moving but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t go fast and I looked over to the left to switch lanes and I just crash into the car in front of me. Obviously it was my fault like I crashed into her but I feel like it could’ve been 50% my fault, not 100% my fault. Because like I was look to the left of the side to switch lanes when the car in front of me stepped on her brakes. But I have a surcharge appeal hearing that I requested tomorrow, commonwealth of Massachusetts division of insurance board of appeal. And I have no idea what to say, Im so nervous. My dad wanted this hearing so I said fine, like I don’t care really because Im paying for the insurance anyways. But what should I say? Do you think if they agree my insurance won’t go up that much? Really I don’t know what I’m doing…???? But please help me Thank You

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      The question isn’t whether you were 100% at fault, the question is whether you were more than 50% at fault, and from your description of the accident, it seems pretty clear that you were.

      Furthermore, as has been pointed out repeatedly in the comments on this blog posting, it is extremely rare to be found less than 50% at fault when you’re the rear vehicle in a rear-ending accident.

      You say that your dad wanted you to appeal the surcharge. Did he have something in mind as the basis for your appeal? It seems like you should be talking to him about this, not to strangers on the internet.

      Another important point here is that if you’re 16 and you just got your license, then that means that it’s a Junior Operator License (JOL) which you’ve had for less than six months, which means that you weren’t actually allowed to be driving your friend to and from the mall (https://www.massrmv.com/rmv/brochures/JOL_brochure.pdf) unless your friend is over 18. The appeals board is not likely to overturn a surcharge for a Junior Operator who was violating the JOL law at the time of the accident.

      In short, as far as I can tell, all signs point to the surcharge being upheld on appeal. If I’d been in your shoes, I wouldn’t have bothered with the appeal in the first place. I’m not sure what your dad had in mind, but I suggest you talk to him about it ASAP.

      P.S. I removed your name from your comment because frankly I really don’t think you want to be broadcasting stuff like this all over the internet under your real name.

      Reply
  8. Erin

    HI,
    I was recently involved in an accident, I was on my way to the work and the person in front of me stop short. In order to avoid hitting them straight on I reared my vehicle to the right, but when I first went to step on my brakes they failed and that is why I reared to the right hitting the right side of the vehicle in front of me. My vehicle was about 10 days old when I got into the accident but wasn’t sure if it was worth appealing the surcharge? On the accident report the officer stated my brakes failed as well. Should I even bother appealing since I hit the person in front of me and in MASS I know you are more than 50% at fault?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      It seems like it would be extremely unusual for the brakes to fail on a 10-day-old car.

      The officer didn’t state in the accident report that your brakes failed. He stated that you said your brakes failed.

      Do you have any proof that your brakes failed, like a statement from the mechanic who diagnosed and fixed the problem with your brakes after the accident?

      If not, the appeals board is simply going to assume that you failed to apply the brakes properly. Mind you, I’m not saying that you’re intentionally lying, and they don’t have to believe you’re intentionally lying either. I’m saying — and I think they will say as well — that even though you think your brakes failed, what actually happen is that you failed to apply them properly.

      As such, I think it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully appeal this surcharge. You were following the car in front of you too close, too fast, and you rear-ended them as a result. That’s the textbook definition of a rear-ending accident, and it’s why the law presumes that the driver who does the rear-ending is at fault.

      Having said all that, let me remind you and other readers of what I’ve said here many times in the past… I am not a lawyer, and my advice is worth what you paid for it (and perhaps less). Ultimately, the decision of whether to appeal rests with you; I’m just offering my opinion.

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I was driving home around 2 am when a rather large animal (possibly a raccoon) ran out into the road directly in front of my car from the left side of the one-way street. It was too close to me to avoid by braking and I had very little reaction time, so I swerved to the right in an attempt to avoid hitting it. However, because the road is narrow, I swerved directly into the parked cars next to me. I swiped the first car’s rear door and then made impact with the second car’s rear bumper. I was not speeding and I did not lose control of the vehicle; I was simply trying to avoid hitting the animal.

    I got the surcharge notice, and I’m going to appeal it, but I wanted to know about my “odds” of winning it? Although I did hit both the parked cars, I don’t think I should be found at fault for this accident on the grounds that it was an “act of God.” The circumstances were out of any person’s control when the animal ran out in front of me. I reacted in the best way I knew how at the time.

    When at the appeal, could say that the accident was 50% my fault, but 50% the fault of uncontrollable circumstances in nature due to the animal running out into the road? If it were not for the animal, I would not have hit either car because I was in control of my vehicle and driving the speed limit.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Definitely appeal. And drop the “could say that the accident was 50% my fault” stuff; that won’t help you. Just say that you swerved to hit an animal that ran out into the road directly in front of your car.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Hey,

        This is the same author of the animal post above.

        I also think that I am going to appeal my surcharge in writing. Do you think I can defend myself well that way, or that I should just go in person?

        I also just had some questions about your wife’s appeal. Did she include any other documents along with the post you showed above? Any repair receipts from a mechanic or her registration or pictures of her vehicle?

        I’m just trying to get an idea of what I should submit because the notice is so vague. I don’t think submitting those kinds of documents help my case (they actually probably hurt it), so is it acceptable to just submit my written statement and hope for the best?

        Reply
        1. jik Post author

          Neither my wife nor I has ever appealed a surcharge at a hearing rather than in writing, so I’m not sure I’m in a good position to advise you on this question.

          Having said that, here are my thoughts, for whatever they’re worth…

          The letter above was all that my wife and I submitted for her appeal, because there really wasn’t any other evidence for us to submit that would have been relevant to the argument we were making for why she shouldn’t be held responsible for the accident.

          Your situation is similar, in that I don’t really see what other evidence you could submit that would be relevant to your argument. Is there any evidence that an animal darted out into the road in front of your car? That is the crux of your appeal; if there is no evidence of that, then there’s nothing relevant for you to submit.

          Given that your entire appeal hinges on your claim that an animal darted out in front of your car, and there’s no objective way to prove or disprove your assertion, I think whether you should appeal in writing or in person depends on whether you think you will be convincing and sincere if you appear in person. What it comes down to is this: if the people hearing your appeal believe you, there’s a chance that the surcharge will be overturned; if they think you’re bullshitting, it probably won’t.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            So I wrote in a statement, and my surcharge was vacated!!!!! 😀

            Reply
  10. Nina

    Hello there,

    I was involved in a small accident in the summer. I’m not sure if I should go through with the processes of appealing because there are many factors involved. I was on a ramp that was backed up heavily in traffic, I ensured that I kept a safe distance in front of me while following a school van. I had about a car lengths in front of me on the ramp and there were cars behind me following me so closely that it was making me uncomfortable, because it wasn’t a safe distance. Traffic was moving towards the ramp from rte. 146 to the ma pike. The lane we were in merges into a four lane bridge where the lanes that we merge into keep going straight, and the 2 lanes on the far left stop at a light to take a left turn to merge onto the MA Pike.

    The van in front of me was going along, as I kept a distance and the people that had the right away were driving fastly to make the green light while cars were also trying to merge into that lane yielding to the people speeding throught the light, and then merge again to the far left to take a left turn about 100-200 ft forward to the MA PIKE. This is just information how the lane works.

    In my minor accident the van in front of me was also following someone. that person in front of the van merged into the lane and kept going. The van in front of me proceeded but there were on going cars in the lane. she was trying to merge into that were speeding as they typically do, and she kept going and braking and I was aware of this so I ensured that I kept distance. She merged into the lane and was out of the way in front of me and then it was my turn to merge into the lane.

    I edged my way out looking into my blind spots to make sure that there was no one coming, I almost merged in but there was a car that was going way over the speed limit and he saw me and swerved into the lane to the left of me, so I turned forward immediately since I was safely trying to merge in and I looked forward and braked to avoid tapping her since she was going and stopping trying to merge again into the left lane (But she was already off of the ramp I was on and she was driving so when it was my turn to merge she was not there) and I tapped the back of her car going no more than 6MPH.

    I understand that she has the right to do what she wants, but i was safely at a distance when she got out of the merging lane we were in, and into the main road, and that is when it was my turn to go and merge and when I was trying to merge in, she was merging out of the lane towards the left lanes and It was too late to stop and I tapped her car because of her sudden stopping and going.

    Should I appeal, please ask questions it was hard to explain this scenario

    Reply
    1. Nina

      Also forgot to mention that after I slightly tapped the van she was going to drive away and was in another left lane that she merged into. I saw that she was looking in rear view to see what I would do and I signaled her to pull to the side to see what was going on. When talking she didnt really even care about it and didnt want to do anything but the school she worked for made her stop.

      Not sure if she had a commercial license since she was driving teens. Police came and didnt write a citation because it was so minor. There was a dent on bumper that costed 685 to repair.

      Reply
      1. jik Post author

        Your description of the accident is far too convoluted for me to understand what happened, so I can’t render any sort of useful opinion about whether you should appeal.

        It won’t help for me to ask questions, because answering questions will make the scenario more complex, not less. You need to boil the accident down to its essentials and give a much simpler, less convoluted description of what happened.

        In this situation — rear-ending another vehicle without any weather conditions which might have caused you to do so — the only way you can claim you weren’t at fault is if someone else was at fault, i.e., the accident was the unavoidable outcome of someone else’s unsafe, unforeseeable driving.

        If you can’t make a clear, straightforward, convincing argument to that effect, you will not win an appeal.

        Reply
        1. Nina

          Just so you know. I know the message that I originally sent in this blog post wasn’t clear. I was found to be not at fault for the rear end collision, so thank you for the structure and the advice!

          Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Hi,
    So I was in a car accident I believe it was January . I rear ended a car as a result of the weather and the conditions of the road. I went to my family member’s house on my way there it was NOT snowing and I stayed there for about 2 or more hours and when I got out of the house it had been snowing enough so that my car was completely white from the snow. So as soon as I got on the road I was driving with complete percautions as I was on a road that I knew ahead of time from previous experience I was going to stop at a traffic light. From a far away distance I started to slow down and when I got close enough to notice the light was on red I started breaking when my car started to slide down (road ends on a decline) I had control of the cars direction but my car kept sliding down the hill. I was approaching the traffic light where there were two cars stoped when the light turned green meanwhile I’m still sliding my car would not stop.(Originally I needed to take a left turn at the traffic light) I then had three options 1. Go straight where there was a car driving straight ahead down the street 2. Take a right where there was a car down the street 3. Take a left where there was a car on the street. This all happened really fast because let me remind you I was sliding down a hill. I choose to turn left to where I was originally going with the hopes the wheels would eventually get a grip on the road. But all cars are driving slowly and with the speed I had gained from sliding down this hill the car didn’t move fast enough so that I can continue to eventually get traction again. So I inevitably ended up rear ending a car. The insurance company found me more than 50% at fault and now I have 4 points on my license. I was not driving recklessly I had no control over my speed since i was going down a hill. Even the police that showed up told me “this accident was due to the weather tell your insurance company that”. Unfortunately I have misplaced the paper the officer gave me stating this. But I’m wondering if I would be able to win an appeal for this case? I truly believe this was not my fault i had no control over my wheels being able to brake. Also it was not my brakes failing because I was able to drive home after the accident. Should I appeal?

    Reply
  12. Dee

    Hi,
    I recently was involved in an “at-fault” accident. I was about to enter a freeway and was on the entry ramp. The car ahead of me was about to merge into the traffic and suddenly hit the brakes. As a result, I rear ended this car (we are at less than 20 mph)- essentially my car barely scratched the back bumper of the front car.

    I received the letter now in the mail (a month after the incident). Is there any chance of me appealing this surcharge?

    Thanks

    Reply
  13. Keri

    I was involved in a fender bender this morning. According to the standards set by the state I will automatically be found at fault as I backed up into another vehicle. There are a few other circumstances involved here, though.
    My car was parked on private way, and there are two signs on one end of the alley stating that it is not a through way. People disregard these signs all the time. They come down the alley both ways to avoid traffic. The cars are parked nose in at an angle on the side of my building. With the cars parked, there is only enough room for one lane of traffic to pass behind. There are 3 sets of speed bumps to make people slow down.
    The police officer I called even commented on how bad it was with the constant traffic passing through and indicated he would note that in his report. He did not give any moving violations. Is there a way to get my insurance to not find me more than 50% at fault and avoid the surcharge altogether?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      You didn’t actually say whether the person who you backed into was driving at an excessive speed.

      If they were driving too fast, and you looked behind you immediately before backing out and they were not visible, and then they came speeding up the alley as you backed out and that’s how you ended up hitting them, then you might be able to make a case that you weren’t at fault. It comes down to whether the clerk handling the hearing finds your story credible.

      Note that the fact that they shouldn’t have been driving through the alley is not relevant. Even if they shouldn’t have been there, you’re still obligated to exercise due care when backing out, especially given that (as you acknowledged) people cut through the alley all the time.

      Reply
  14. Matt

    i am wondering whether I should appeal a surcharge. I was involved in an accident on an interstate. Traffic was congested when it suddenly broke free. Some one cut off the driver ahead of me (a 17 year old driver) who slammed on their brakes. Several car swerved around, boxing me in. Unable to manoveur, I rear ended the driver ahead of me. Since the accident occurred due to some third party and I rear ended the car in front of me, should I go forward on an appeal or just suck it up? Thanks

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Conventional wisdom is that it’s pointless to appeal an accident when you rear-ended someone else, because in a rear-end collision, the person in back is at fault by definition.

      Did police respond to the accident scene? Did they take statements from witnesses and/or file a police report about the accident? Was the person who cut off the driver in front of you cited? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then just maybe you might be able to make a decent argument at your hearing, though even then it’ll be a tough sell.

      On the other hand… If the points on your license are going to end up costing you a lot more than the surcharge appeal fee, and you can spare the day to go to the hearing, then you might want to roll the dice. As they say, showing up is half the battle. I just wouldn’t get your hopes up. :-/

      Reply
  15. JKL

    Thank you for sharing such a helpful information. Two weeks ago, I was involved in an accident in a shopping center parking lot. I had slowly and safely backed out most of the way (at least 3/4 of my car was already backed out) from my parking space. I stopped to check around me before proceeding to change my gear into Drive. But before I had my chance to do anything, a car came around the corner into the lane and hit rear corner of my car on the passenger side. The other driver immediately backed up from the point of collision and apologetically said that he was very focused on quickly getting an empty spot past me on his left side and did not see me (even though I had backed out most of the way into the lane BEFORE he came around the corner). I was was stopped and NOT moving BEFORE the other car drove into me. The lane was also wide enough that other cars easily passed by us while I kept my car in the same backed out position and we were exchanging information after the accident. I also took pictures of how far I had backed out when the collision happened. The other car was damaged on the passenger side front and had a much bigger damage than my car (both are minivans). But the other driver decided to NOT file a claim and pay for his own repair (even though his car is a new 2015 minivan & repair will easily cost over $2000), so MY insurance is simply labeling this accident as “the insured hit another vehicle while backing out of a parking space” and decided to not “recover loss.” You see, I have a $1000 deductible and my appraisal came out to $1049 (i.e. costing my insurance company only $49). But I am out $1000 PLUS rental car for a week. AND I fear I will be hit with surcharges, because I am the “at-fault” party in this accident.

    What can I do in this situation? My own insurance company is not doing anything to help me. Should I file a claim directly with the other insurance company? But what good will that do? My own insurance company is labeling me as the “at-fault” party, using the “MA Standards of Fault” as their excuse. It seems that my only option is to appeal. Do you think I have a good chance of reversing the decision if I appeal? And if I am successful, will my insurance company pay me back for the $1000 deductible and remove any surcharges? Any insight/advice will be much appreciated!

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      If you were not moving when your vehicle was struck, and your vehicle was struck from behind, then it seems clear that you were not at fault in the accident.

      If you have not spoken to your insurance company on the phone and informed them that their characterization of the accident is inaccurate, you need to do that. If the first person to whom you speak at your insurance company refuses to acknowledge and correct their error, you need to escalate — ask to speak to their supervisor — and keep escalating until either you talk to someone who will fix their error or they refuse to let you speak with anyone else. And if that happens, then when all this blows over, you need to find a new insurance company, because the one you have now sucks.

      You should have already reported the accident to the RMV and police. That’s required by law, since there was more than $1,000 in damage (see http://www.all-about-car-accidents.com/resources/do-i-need-to-report-car-accident-massachusetts.html). If you haven’t already done that, you need to do it immediately, since you were supposed to do it within five days of the accident. Filing this report will help protect your rights and help you make the case that you were not at fault in the accident.

      The other driver was required — by the standard terms of auto insurance policies in Massachusetts — to report the accident to his insurance company. You absolutely should contact his insurance company directly and notify them about the accident and tell them you wan to file a claim against the other driver directly with them, since your insurance company has declined to stick up for you. They will then contact the other driver and ask him to explain why he did not report the accident to them. It will not go well for him. If he acknowledged at the time of the accident that he was at fault, and he knew at that time that he wasn’t going to report the accident to his insurance company, then he should have offered on the spot to pay for your damage “off the books” so you wouldn’t report the accident to your insurance company either. It was stupid of him not to do that.

      When all that’s done, if your insurance company insists on continuing to classify the accident as your fault and you receive a surcharge notice in the mail, then you absolutely should appeal the surcharge.

      Reply
    2. sydney haughton

      I’m in the process of appealing, would a lawyer help?

      Reply
  16. Carol

    I appreciate your post and recently appealed an at-fault incident. I mailed in my statement well before my date and chose not to appear in person. My date was June 24, and today is now July 9. About how long did it take before you knew your verdict? Do they mail it to you, or do you have to chase them? Thank you! Your post was very helpful and my fingers are crossed that it worked for me…

    Reply
      1. Carol

        Thank you!! I must have searched on the incorrect key words because I could not find this information. Much obliged.

        Reply
    1. Eva

      I was in an accident in January and I was found at fault. It was a clear day (as the police report states) and there was no weather conditions for the past 4 days so the roads were all really clear. Sunny out and everything. I was driving on a winding road that opened up to a causeway – a road completely surrounded by water for those unsure. As I started turning the corner out of NOWHERE there was a ton of snow packed onto the road and more continuously drifting into the road. It was a complete white out and the second my car hit the snow it just took my car, I fishtailed in the process of stearing myself through it and my rear end turned into the other lane where an oncoming car hit me. I was at fault for being in the other lane. I just appealed it and my hearing is in 3 weeks. I’m trying to prepare myself as much as possible. I need to win this. My insurance went up to almost $4500 a year when its the only accident on my record. I have tons of pictures, the police report, weather reports and so on. You think I got a chance?

      Reply
      1. jik Post author

        It’s hard for me to say whether your appeal will be successful.

        If an accident like the one you described happened to me, I’d probably appeal.

        Having said that, I can’t imagine a single accident causing your insurance rates to go up by $4,500. Either there’s more to the story (e.g., do you have multiple moving violations on your record? what was your SDIP rating before this accident? do you have an extremely low credit rating?), or you might want to consider finding a new insurance company.

        Reply
        1. Eva

          I’m only 19 so as a young driver my insurance started at over 200 a month. I switched to Plymouth Rock to save $20 a month and then got in that accident. I have no moving violations at all prior to this accident and no credit at all. My insurance doubled through Plymouth Rock from the accident. I just recently started looking into MetLife and they quoted me only $1,000 a year with 4 points on my record. I’m planning on switching now but I want to see if I win my appeal first so my insurance has to pay me a chunk back!

          Reply
          1. jik Post author

            Sorry, I misread your original comment and thought you said that your insurance went up _by_ $4,500, when what you actually said was that your insurance went up _to_ $4,500. Given your age (the actuarial tables discriminate against young people; math is math!), that’s understandable.

            Reply
            1. Eva

              I figured I’d let you know but I just got home from my hearing and it went really well but I’m kind of unsure at the same time. I walked in and she first asked me for pictures and I showed them and then she was like “oh wow the roads were really clear before the accident place.” And then I showed her the speed limit and everything else I had for pictures and she asked me if they salted or sanded and I said no and she took all the papers closed it all in a file and said “I can’t believe that, I’ll notify Plymouth Rock. I’ll take care of this for you Hun, you’re all set.” And I left.

  17. Anonymous

    I hit a pot hole on Rt. 3 north in the Braintree area and was told when I took my car to be inspected in November that it would not pass due to an out of alignment in the rear tires. I took the car to the dealer and as a result, required $3400 in repairs which I submitted to my insurance company. I was later notified that I would be given points on my license and a $250 surcharge for 6 years. I have decided to appeal the surcharge and the points. The insurance company was required to submit a form to the State of MA and this was termed a one car accident. To me it is a no fault situation caused by an outside agency (pot hole) and should not carry any penalty for me.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Sounds right to me.

      But I think the dealer ripped you off, as dealers are wont to do. I can recommend a good place in Waltham that won’t rip you off. 😉

      Reply
  18. CKN

    Last year I was driving from Waltham to NYC on April 16, 2014 for an appointment to get a new passport. I was supposed to travel in June and needed my passport renewed. Rescheduling wasn’t an option because it had taken me 2 months to get the date in the first place.

    Unfortunately on April 16, at 4:00 in the morning there was a snow-rain wintry mix and the highways weren’t treated at the time I was driving (4:45 AM). Initially I was in the 2nd lane from the left well under the speed limit. But I was being passed on the right by several 18 wheelers’ and as they passed me by, they’d throw up slush over my windshield. This was completely obscuring my visibility and I was forced to switch lanes, to the leftmost lane because I din’t want to be driving next to a 18 wheeler without any visibility. While doing so my car hydroplaned and I hit the concrete guard rail. There was damage to my bumper and slight damage to my tail light.

    I didn’t receive the surcharge notice and now that my policy is about to renew I see that I was awarded 4 points on my driving record. This is going to cost me $1000/year in insurance premiums for 6 years. I plan on appealing regardless of the outcome because its well worth my time. If it is assessed, what do you think my chances of successful appeal is? And what do I need to do, to prepare to make a best case at appealing?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      I sympathize with your circumstances. Many years ago, I was involved in a similar accident right after a snowstorm when the roads had not yet been adequately treated.

      It is difficult to win an appeal for a surcharge resulting from a single-vehicle accident.

      The prevailing assumption is that you were not driving safely for the current weather conditions. This is true pretty much by definition if there were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

      It seems to me that to overturn the surcharge, you would need to demonstrate that circumstances required you to be on the road despite the poor driving conditions, and that you could not have reasonably anticipated the conditions that caused you to hydroplane and hit the guard rail.

      The former doesn’t sound like it would be hard to prove, but I really don’t know how you could successfully prove that you couldn’t have anticipated the accident.

      If it’s really going to cost as much as you think it will in terms of increased insurance premiums, then it is probably worth spending the money to speak with a lawyer who specializes in surcharge appeals.

      I’m not a lawyer, and my advice is worth what you paid for it. :-/

      Reply
  19. NEM

    I was recently in a single car accident on 495. We had snow overnight and all of the roads had been treated and just wet. I was in the far right lane, it was 4:30AM. I suddenly approached the lowest point of the highway where water had pooled. The “puddle” covered the entire right lane. I apparently hydroplaned, went up and over the 7 foot snowbank and crashed down into the woods. The State police came and closed two lanes of the highway for the frontend loader to clear the drain which was covered in snow. I received my surcharge notice yesterday. When you hit a deer on the highway that is considered no fault. How am I at fault for an obvious goof by MASS DOT?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      This one seems like a tough call. On the one hand, it’s very difficult to overturn surcharges resulting from single-vehicle accidents, because there’s an obvious presumption that if you were the only driver involved, you must have been driving negligently to get into an accident.

      On the other hand, the conditions you describe sound bad enough that you could argue that you could not have reasonably anticipated them.

      If I were in this situation, I’d probably go ahead and appeal the surcharge.

      Reply
  20. Scharjeel

    What are the chances of winning a appeal?

    I was driving on a highway (I-91) in the left lane of three on wet and ice covered road surface. I lost control and car spun onto the left shoulder striking a wire rope guardrail with the right side of the vehicle. I was traveling in the left lane at approx. 40 MPH when i began to lose control of the vehicle and spun and struck the guardrail. Physical evidence consisted of minor / moderate damage to the right side of car and approx 20′ of wire rope guardrail that was knocked down. The roadway was wet and ice covered with light freezing rain falling. The posted speed limit was 65 MPH. Cop came over and he didn’t give me any ticket but he mentioned in a police report that cause of the incident was found to be traveling too fast for such conditions.

    No other car was involved in an accident.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      The odds of winning an appeal in a single-vehicle accident are quite low.

      Reply
  21. Steve

    Good morning,
    I have an appeal coming up regarding backing up out of a very small tight parking lot on a sunny day and being blinded by the sun while doing so. Using the side of caution while backing up I bumped into a vehicle behind me. They owner of the vehicle gave me a quote of 246.00 than decided to go through insurance company and the total loss was 506.00 just 6.00 over the limit of not getting a surcharge.
    Any suggestions on appeal?

    Reply
  22. CC

    I was in an accident this past summer while traveling on the MA Pike with my two young daughters. There was a (very) large metal object in the middle of the middle lane and I was unable to change lanes to avoid it, because there were cars on either side of me, and I had no other option but to drive over the thing. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and got my girls out of the car. There was gas pouring out of the gas tank (the object had punctured it) onto the road and I was petrified that the car was going to blow up. I called 911 and spoke with someone from the police department (MA State, I believe) and they sent a MA DOT worker out to clean it up. The police never came, nor did the fire department (again, there was gas pouring from the punctured gas tank onto the road). I now have an appeals hearing scheduled for January 7th. I was 0% at fault for this accident and am trying to decide if I should attend the appeal hearing or just send in my statement and pictures of the object. BTW, the MA DOT worker said that they find these metal things in the road all the time and he thought it came off of a mutli-car tractor trailer truck (he said it looked like part of the ramp). In my opinion, this is a shut and closed case that I was not at fault. Thoughts? Is it worth my time, energy and money to physically attend the appeal? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      You should absolutely appeal, and I don’t think you need to show up in person, I think a written appeal will be enough to get the surcharge overturned.

      Just remember, I’m not a lawyer, take my advice at your own risk, it’s worth what you paid for it, etc.

      Reply
  23. Lucy

    Hello!
    I was hoping you could offer some input/advice? I was recently involved in black ice accident that involved a house. When I pulled my car (Honda Fit) down the driveway (which is an incline) I was unable to break on the black ice which resulted in me hitting the house. The damage includes (as far as I know) the outside door frame’s vinyl is cracked and door does not shut properly. I have yet to make an insurance claim yet because the home owner wanted to bring in a contractor to look at damage to avoid. But unfortunately this incident has occurred almost a week ago and they have failed to do so. In Massachusetts I know homeowners/landlords are responsible for snow removal/ice removal from their sidewalks and driveways from slip and fall. Do you think if it goes through my insurance I would have a case for appeal? The driveway was completely covered in black ice, was stuck in it for over 1.5 hours! Any insight would be great! Thanks

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Please keep in mind the fact that I am not an attorney and my advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. Having said that…

      Since you were the only vehicle involved in the accident, then (as noted in another recent comment exchange on this page) the insurance company is actually legally obligated to rule that you were more than 50% at fault in the accident and issue a surcharge notice.

      Having said that, it doesn’t sound to me like the accident was actually your fault, and I think there’s a good chance that you could get the surcharge overturned on appeal.

      On a somewhat independent question, it’s possible that you’re going to get a bit of grief from the insurance company about not reporting the accident immediately. Massachusetts law requires accident reports to be filed within five days for any accident that causes injury, death, or over $1,000 worth of damage. I suppose you could argue that the owner of the home you slid into hasn’t yet told you how much damage you caused, so you had no way of knowing you were required to file a report. Furthermore, I’m not entirely certain that this law applies to accidents taht occur on private property. On the other hand, if you read the fine print of your insurance policy, it’s possible (and indeed likely) that the insurance company has a time limit for claims to be filed and reserves the right not to pay claims that are filed late. For example, my Amica policy says:

      We do not know about accidents or losses until you or someone else notifies us. We, or our agent, must be notified promptly of the accident or loss by you or someone on your behalf. The notification should include as many details as possible, including names and addresses of drivers, injured persons and witnesses. If you or any person seeking payment under this policy fail to notify us promptly of any accident or claim under Parts 2, 3, 6, or 12 of this policy, we may not be required to pay claims under any of these parts.

      If you are filing a claim for damage to your auto, you or someone on your behalf must file a proof of loss within 91 days after the accident.

      Notice that it uses the vague term “promptly,” and the only time limit specifically listed is quite long, 91 days. So with any luck you’re in the clear.

      Reply
  24. NAM

    I was in stop and go traffic on a rain slicked 128 S @ 6:30 AM in October this year. The car in front of me started to move and suddenly stepped on his brake. The car in front of him swerved to avoid the car in front of them. I stepped on my brakes and slid into the rear bumper -my airbag did not deploy-. This was on a 2 lane part of 128 that sloped down and I had no room to veer off. Would it be worth my while to appeal this?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Honestly, I’m not sure.

      On the one hand, the “party line” is that drivers are responsible for maintaining a safe following distance for the current weather conditions, and if you rear-ended another vehicle on the highway, then by definition you weren’t maintaining a safe following distance. So if the appeals board follows “the rules,” it seems unlikely that they’ll overturn your surcharge.

      On the other hand, I’ve heard anecdotal stories about the appeals board overturning surcharges when there really wasn’t any justification for doing so. Kind of a, “Well, you took the time and effort to show up, and yeah, the weather really was crappy that day, so we’re going to cut you a break,” kind of thing.

      My gut is that you probably won’t be successful if you appeal, but I don’t want to tell you there’s no chance, so you’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth the time and $50.

      One thing I can tell you is that I think it’s highly unlikely that you would succeed in appealing by mail. I think you’ll need to show up for the appeal in person to have any chance of succeeding.

      Reply
      1. NAM

        Jonathan,

        Thank you for replying. I should also mention that I had a similar accident -rear ended someone on 128 about 7 years ago-. To the best of my knowledge, my insurance company will have a rep there at the hearing and I suspect they will introduce my past transgression and this will probably weigh heavily on the decision. To this affect, it probably will not be worth my time and cost!

        Reply
  25. Kay

    Is there any chance of winning in appeal in a situation where the other driver was at fault, but fled the scene and cannot be found? I was driving around a corner and someone was coming at me head on in my lane. I had to swurve and ended up hitting a telephone pole. Ins. Co. is saying I am more than 50% at fault! Thank you.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      It doesn’t sound like you were more than 50% at fault. The notice you received notifying you about the surcharge should have given the basis for the finding. Why did they say you were more than 50% at fault?

      Reply
      1. Kay

        Standard of Fault Code (19) Explanation: Single Vehicle Collision. The operator of a vehicle subject to the State Driver Insurance Plan shall be presumed to be more than50% at fault when operating the only vehicle invovled in a collision. [I was not the only vehicle involved, the other vehicle fled the scene!]

        Reply
        1. jik Post author

          From my reading of the law, the insurance company was required to find you more than 50% of the law because you didn’t collide with the other vehicle. Yes, that’s sort of stupid, but that does appear to be what the law says.

          So yes, you should absolutely appeal, and I think it’s likely that the finding of fault will be overturned by the appeal board.

          Reply
          1. Kay

            Thanks, I’m going to try. What this law says to me is that I should always try to hit the other vehicle in any sitution and cause even more damage, injuries and possibly death!

            Reply
            1. jik Post author

              It’s a bit more complicated than that.

              When the legislature decided to give the insurance companies the responsibility for assigning surcharge points, they wanted to lay down a set of rules that would be clear and unambiguous enough that it would be very difficult for the insurance companies to misapply them. This was actually intended to protect consumers by preventing the insurance companies from either (a) inappropriately assigning fault and causing people’s rates to go up, or (b) giving inappropriate preferential treatment to some customers over others (i.e., discrimination).

              However, as a result of the rigidity of the rules, there are circumstances when they require the insurance companies to find fault where it isn’t really appropriate. That’s where the appeals process comes in. When such a situation occurs, the appropriate redress is for you to appeal the surcharge and explain the situation in detail to the appeals board.

              In short, the system is working the way it should. Now, if you file an appeal and explain that you hit the pole because you had to swerve to avoid another driver coming straight at you in your lane, and the other driver fled the scene, and the appeals board refuses to overturn the surcharge, then you’ll have something to complain about. 😉

  26. IKE

    I was involved in an accident last February where i skid off the road while trying to enter my apartment. i hit the front wheel area of the other car. it had snowed all day and was raining at that moment. my speed was between 15 and 20mph. the insurance has placed a 4points on me. i know am not at fault cause i was not driving at top speed and also the weather was very bad.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Just because you were “not driving at top speed and the weather was very bad” does not mean you were not at fault.

      Drivers are required by law to at all times drive at a safe speed and with appropriate care for the current weather conditions.

      From the point of view of the law, unless you can argue that you encountered something weather-related that you could not reasonably have foreseen, you’re at fault.

      Having said that, the appeals board doesn’t always apply the law exactly as written. If you show up and make your case, they may overturn your surcharge. Depending on how much the four points are going to cost you in terms of increased premiums, it might be worth the $50 fee and time.

      Reply
  27. paul

    on a single lane road, (at a T intersection on the right and a driveway on the left) the car in front of me was slowing and signalling for a left turn. i moved into a breakdown lane to pass on right.
    the nose of my car was even with the passenger door of the other car when that vehicle swerved towards me, hit me and forced me onto the curb.
    by the time i got out of the car, the other driver had his right signal flashing and denied any intention to turn left.

    what kin of odds would i get to overturn a more than 50% at fault finding?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Generally speaking, it is legal to pass someone on the right when they are slowed or stopped to make a left turn, with their left turn signal activated.

      However, as far as I can tell, it is not legal to pass someone on the right in the breakdown lane.

      Therefore, I doubt you will be able to get the surcharge overturned.

      Reply
  28. Ken

    I was in a car accident in January due to a medical condition. My Blood sugar level suddenly dropped and I went unconscious. I went off the road and smashed into a pole…..totaling my car. I am a very safe driver, no tickets, no DUI’s………and this wasn’t a result of me driving recklessly. It was a one time medical issue. I only damaged my own car, there was no other car and no other people or property damaged. I just received my premiums for 2015 and my insurance DOUBLED. It went from $1100.00 per year to $2269.00 This seems excessive to me. I was advised to appeal based on the medical issue. Do you think I have any chance of winning the appeal?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Do you think I have any chance of winning the appeal?

      Yes, but be prepared to answer when they ask what you’ve done to ensure that the “one time medical issue” you experienced isn’t going to recur.

      Reply
  29. BRB

    I will be appealing a 4 point surcharge in Ma in a few weeks. I was in an accident in Feb. I had come to a full stop at a stop sign, looked both ways and attempted to enter the intersection when all of a sudden my front drivers side corner was hit by an on coming car. His car somehow caught the bumper of my car and the front bumper was ripped off.
    I was given a citation because it was my car that had the stop sign. I feel that I am less than 50% at fault. How can I appeal this?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      Why do you feel you are less than 50% at fault? Your brief description of the accident doesn’t provide any grounds for an appeal.

      Reply
      1. BRB

        Because after looking both ways I looked again before preceding into the intersection. The car came out of no where which makes me think they were speeding. (speed limit is 30 mph)
        After hitting my car, their car preceded across to the other side of the intersection and swerved back to the right side of the road before it came to a stop.

        Reply
        1. jik Post author

          Did police respond to the accident scene? Were you or the other driver cited? Did the police write up a report about the accident, and if so, do you have a copy, and if so, does it say anything that might support your theory that the other car was speeding? Were there witnesses to the accident? Did they give statements to the police, or if not, did police get their contact information such that you could contact them to get a statement now? Was your view at the intersection obstructed in any way (e.g., parked cars prevented you from seeing too far down the road from which the other car came, or that road is curved)?

          If you go into the hearing and say, “I looked both ways carefully before proceeding. The car was not visible when I entered the intersection. It came out of nowhere and hit me. I believe it was speeding,” then it’s possible that will be enough to overturn the surcharge.

          However, if the other driver submitted a statement to his insurance company telling a different story, and there are no police reports or witness statements supporting your version of events, and you can’t show that your view of the road the other car came from was limited, then I’m not sure you will be able to prevail.

          I think if I were in your shoes I’d probably go ahead and appeal, but I wouldn’t be too confident of success.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            fyi…I lost my fight against the surcharge. But at least I gave it a try, I really didn’t expect to win because I believe the State and Insurance Companies are negative against giving someone a break. I was told they “do not” take into account whether this was a “first” accident or not, they don’t take into account the driver’s driving record. Which I think is wrong and unfair.
            But I did change insurance companies and saved $1000 with even more coverage.

            Reply
            1. Eric

              If you don’t me asking, what insurance company did you end up picking?
              Thanks

  30. Maxwell

    I was involved in an incident in January. I attempted to overtake a slow-moving vehicle but in doing so inadvertently slipped on black ice and lost control of my car. No damage to the other car and I landed in the snowbank. Police investigated and issued me a citation, which I was later found NOT RESPONSIBLE for. I was happy until recently the town it was in is claiming guardrail damage under my policy, which will lead to a surcharge that will essentially double my monthly premium. Upon investigating the scene, I saw that the replaced guardrail is in fact 100+ feet away from the address of the incident stated in the police report. If it is assessed, what do you think my chances of successful appeal is? My main gripe comes from the fact that my insurance company is not taking my documentation and proof seriously and is, for some reason, eager to pay the claim.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      If you don’t think you did the damage the town is claiming you did, then you should appeal. The insurance company has no incentive to dispute the town’s claims… That’s what the appeal process is for.

      Reply

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