Many of our Massachusetts neighbors experienced a terrible crisis last night, complete with gas explosions, fires and mass evacuations. We’ve compiled a few resources and links that might be of help.
Emergency Services: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) – If you need non-emergency assistance or information, call 2-1-1. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
MA Red Cross: American Red Cross of Massachusetts. Also see: Get Help Now and Find Open Shelters If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the Red Cross at (800) 564-1234. This hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Gas Utility: Columbia Gas MA
Lawrence MA: Lawrence MA Emergency Alert – info on evacuations & shelter
North Andover MA:North Andover MA Columbia Gas Leak Information
Andover MA: Andover MA Gas Leak Updates
Twitter is often a quick way to get emergency updates. Here are some relevant Twitter links:
If you need to file an insurance claim, contact your local independent insurance agent.
For your convenience, here’s a list of many of the top insurance companies with links to their online claim reporting resources.
If you are a Massachusetts driver, here are two important notices from the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles.
1. Temporary shutdown this week:
The MA Registry Of Motor Vehicles is converting to a new computer system so plan accordingly if you need services. All services will be shutdown from Thursday 3/22 at 7:00 PM and will reopen on Monday 3/26 at 8:00 am.
The shutdown will affect:
- All RMV offices
- All RMV services offered through AAA offices
- All online services
- All inspection services at stations that inspect
- All inspections through dealerships that inspect
For more information, click for the MA RMV shutdown alert.
2. New Massachusetts Licensing & Renewal Requirements as of 3/25
On March 26, 2018, to get or renew any driver’s license, ID card, or learner’s permit, you need documentation showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law.
Related: After October of 2020, you will need either a passport or REAL ID when you fly in the U.S. or enter certain federal buildings.
See the MA RMV Guide for more information on meeting these requirements.
If you live in Massachusetts and you own a scooter, the rules of the game are changing on July 31. Currently, many owners of 50cc scooters – such as some makes of Vespas and Hondas – have been registering these vehicles as mopeds, which requires only a sticker. But under the new law, “limited use” vehicles that can reach speeds of between 30 and 40 miles per hour must now carry license plates and owners will be required to insure them. Mopeds that do not reach speeds of 30 miles per hour do not need to be plated. The state also defines another category of “low speed” vehicles that travel between 20 and 25 mph.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles offers more information about the new law and the distinction between mopeds, “low speed” and “limited use” vehicles. If you are unsure about insurance requirements, call your local agent.
The new law is taking many scooter owners by surprise. In addition to the insurance and registration requirements, there was one other controversial side effect to the law – because vehicles with plates cannot park on sidewalks, scooter users were at risk of losing their special free parking status, one of the main benefits for commuters. At least for now, the city of Boston has agreed that the ban on sidewalk parking won’t be enforced unless scooters are blocking handicapped access or otherwise parked obtrusively.
The economy is taking its toll in many ways – one of them being that states are looking to tighten budgets and streamline state services. The budget is taking a toll on Mass Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) services that many drivers have come to rely on. For example, the RMV no longer mails license renewal notices – it will be up to drivers to keep track of license expiration dates and to renew at least seven days prior to expiration. Your license renews on your birthday.
In addition, the RMV recently announced the closure of 11 MA RMV offices and a shift to 5 additional “mitigation” centers. The branches that closed or are closing include: Lowell, North Attleboro, Cambridgeside Galleria, New Bedford, Springfield (Eastfield Mall), Southbridge, Framingham, Falmouth, Eastham, Beverly, and Boston (Chinatown).
New new full and express mitigation offices will be located at: MTA Charlton Turnpike Center (full), MTA Natick Service Plaza (express), MHD Canal Visitor Center (express), MHD Peabody (express), and a location in Boston to be announced.
See a map of the new MA RMV
RMV reminds drivers that 18 transactions are now available online in the Express Lane. The RMV plans to partner with libraries to offer ways to help those people who aren’t yet taking advantage of online services help in earning how to navigate online. Online services include:
- Change Your Address
- Free FAST LANE sign up
- License Inquiry
- Permit Inquiry
- Mass/Liquor ID Inquiry
- Order Special Plates
- Organ and Tissue Donor
- Pay Citations (Tickets)
- Registration Inquiry
- Renew Your Driver’s License
- Renew Your Mass ID
- Renew Your Registration
- Replace Your Driver’s License
- Replace Your Mass ID
- Request a Driving Record
- Request a Duplicate Registration
- Title/Lien Inquiry
- Verify Your Driver’s Ed Certificate
For three decades now, auto insurance rates in MA were set by the Division of Insurance, meaning there wasn’t much difference from one insurer to the next. But all that is suddenly changing, add according to the Patriot Ledger, rates could drop by an average of 7.8%. Some consumers will see even greater savings, although some drivers may see a pricing uptick – it will largely depend on risk factors, driving history, and demographics. While we’re all happy to save money, it’s important to remember that insurance has a purpose of asset protection. It’s important not to buy the wrong insurance to save a few dollars now and then be inadequately covered in the event of an accident or a theft. Instead, ask your agent about available auto discounts and the possibility of grouping several policies together. Your agent can help you find the best price/value for you unique situation and needs.