If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for causing an accident, and if the accident involves a claim payment exceeding $500, you will receive a Surcharge Notice.

The incident will go on your driving record. As a result, your insurance company may impose a surcharge on your premium, depending on the terms of the company's merit rating plan.

What Is a Surchargeable At-Fault Accident?

The Standards of Fault Are Used to Determine an At-Fault Accident
Bodily Injury to Others Claims Are Subject to Surcharge
What Is the Difference Between a Minor and Major At-Fault Accident?
Notification of an At-Fault Accident Surcharge
What Is the Surcharge Notice Date of an At-Fault Accident?
How Do I Appeal an At-Fault Accident?
Appeal Hearing Results
Reversal of an At-Fault Accident for Other Reasons


What Is a Surchargeable At-Fault Accident?

An accident is defined as a surchargeable at-fault accident if:
  • the involved operator is more than 50 percent at fault as determined by the Standards of Fault
  • the vehicle is a private passenger automobile
  • the accident involves a claim payment of more than $500, in excess of any deductible
  • the claim payment is for Damage To Someone Else's Property, Collision, or Limited Collision coverages for a vehicle subject to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan. For at-fault accidents occurring on or after January 1, 2006, Bodily Injury To Others liability claims may be subject to surcharge.
Your insurance company will notify you and the Merit Rating Board (MRB) if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault for causing an accident. The MRB will then add the at-fault accident to your driving record. An increase to your auto insurance premium as a result of the accident is dependent on the terms of your insurer's merit rating plan. A merit rating plan is used by an insurance company to adjust an auto insurance premium based on the operator's driving record. Contact your insurance company or agent to find out about their merit rating plan.

Accidents outside of Massachusetts may be subject to surcharge.
  • If your Massachusetts insured private passenger automobile is involved in an accident outside of Massachusetts, it will be subject to surcharge if the accident involves a claim payment of more than $500 under Damage To Someone Else's Property, Collision, Limited Collision, or Bodily Injury To Others, and if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault.
  • If you were involved in an at-fault accident when you resided outside of Massachusetts, it may be subject to surcharge. Massachusetts auto insurers may report an accident from your out-of-state driving record to the MRB if it can be classified as an at-fault accident as defined in the Massachusetts Safe Driver Insurance Plan.

The Standards of Fault Are Used to Determine an At-Fault Accident

Insurance companies are required to use the Massachusetts Standards of Fault to determine if the involved operator is more than 50 percent at fault in an accident.
  • The determination of fault is made by the insurance company that makes the claim payment.
  • The Standards of Fault are established by 211 CMR 74.00 in accordance with Chapter 175, Section 113P of the Massachusetts General Laws.
There are 19 Standards of Fault


Bodily Injury To Others Claims Are Subject to Surcharge

A Bodily Injury To Others liability claim resulting from an at-fault accident that occurred on or after January 1, 2006, will be reported to the Merit Rating Board if:
  • the loss amount in excess of any deductible exceeds $500, and
  • there is neither a surchargeable Damage To Someone Else's Property liability claim, nor a surchargeable Collision claim as a result of the same at-fault accident

What Is the Difference Between a Minor and Major At-Fault Accident?


The amount of the claim payment (in excess of any applicable deductible) determines if the at-fault accident is a minor or major at-fault accident.
  • A minor at-fault accident results in a claim payment of more than $500 and up to and including $2,000 for Damage To Someone Else's Property, Collision, Limited Collision, or Bodily Injury To Others.
  • A major at-fault accident results in a claim payment of more than $2,000 for Damage To Someone Else's Property, Collision, Limited Collision, or Bodily Injury To Others.

Notification of an At-Fault Accident Surcharge

If you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault in an accident, your insurance company will send you a Surcharge Notice.
  • The notice is sent to the involved operator within 20 (working) days of the insurance company's claim payment.
  • If the policyholder of the vehicle involved in the accident is not the involved operator, the insurance company will send the at-fault accident Surcharge Notice to both the policyholder and the involved operator.
  • The insurance company notifies the Merit Rating Board.
  • The MRB adds the at-fault accident to the involved operator's driving history record as a surchargeable incident.
Surcharge Notice
Surcharge Appeal Form


What Is the Surcharge Notice Date of an At-Fault Accident?


The surcharge notice date of an at-fault accident is the date of notice entered by an insurer on the at-fault accident Surcharge Notice. It is not the date of the incident.

The at-fault accident surcharge notice date is used to determine if the incident falls within the 6-year policy experience period. The surcharge notice date is sometimes referred to as the "surcharge date."


How Do I Appeal an At-Fault Accident?

If you believe that you were not more than 50 percent responsible for causing an accident, you may appeal the at-fault accident surcharge to the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal. There is a $50 fee to file an appeal.
  • You must file your appeal within 30 days from receiving your Surcharge Notice; otherwise you may lose your right to appeal.
  • Use the form on the reverse side of the Surcharge Notice to file your appeal.
  • The Board of Appeal (BOA) schedules your hearing and notifies you of the hearing date.
  • After your appeal is heard, the BOA will mail you its decision to reverse or uphold the at-fault accident surcharge.
  • The BOA notifies the Merit Rating Board and your insurance company of its decision.
  • The Merit Rating Board will update your driving record accordingly.
Important! If a surcharge is applied to your auto insurance premium while your appeal is pending, you must pay the additional premium or your policy will be cancelled. If the appeal is decided in your favor, you will receive a refund or credit from your insurance company for any increased premium you paid as a result of the surcharge.

Your appeal does not guarantee success. If you do not agree with the decision of the Board of Appeal, you may pursue the matter further in Superior Court.

For specific details about the at-fault accident appeal process, contact the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal at 617-521-7478 or visit the Division of Insurance/Board of Appeal Website.


Appeal Hearing Results

Once the Board of Appeal has reviewed your at-fault accident appeal, you will receive a Memorandum of Finding and Order.
  • A decision marked "vacate" If, during its review, the Board of Appeal finds that you were not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, the BOA will notify the Merit Rating Board to reverse the at-fault accident surcharge from your driving record.
  • A decision marked "upheld" If, during its review, the Board of Appeal finds that you were more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, the at-fault accident surcharge will remain on your driving record.
Reversal of an At-Fault Accident for Other Reasons

An insurance company may notify the Merit Rating Board to reverse an at-fault accident for other reasons:
  • The at-fault accident was applied to the driving record of the wrong person.
  • The involved operator surcharged for an at-fault accident is determined to have been 50 percent or less at fault.
  • The loss amount has been reduced to below the minimum surchargeable amount.
  • The involved operator surcharged for an at-fault accident died within 1 year of the incident date.
  • The class of the vehicle involved in the at-fault accident is not a vehicle rated in accordance with the Private Passenger Motor Vehicle Insurance Manual.