New Hampshire and Massachusetts share similar histories, but over time their laws have become different. One in particular is the Massachusetts’ consumer protection act (M.G.L 93A) and its sister law M.G.L 176D which regulates the practice of insurance in the state. The big key difference is that the Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute applies to insurance companies conducting business in the Commonwealth, while New Hampshire’s supreme court decided that New Hampshire’s consumer protection statute (RSA 358-A) does not apply to insurance companies. This was a frustrating Court decision that has had significant ramifications on people of New Hampshire being injured by unreasonable and unsupportable insurance practices.
In Massachusetts, M.G.L 93A provides that if an insurance company violates M.G.L 176D, then the injured party (the Plaintiff in most cases) could be entitled to two to three times their damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees. In a lot of cases, this means a doubling or trebling of the judgment obtained in the underlying injury case. This provides a significant incentive to insurance companies to deal in good faith with injured Plaintiffs, as if they do not they can get hit with large judgments for their unreasonable practices.
In New Hampshire, our only statute governing the insurance companies when they are unreasonable is RSA 417. This statute does not have much effect, if any, on the practices of insurance companies as they know the penalties for violating that statute are minimal. Thus, insurance companies have been protected by our legislature and Supreme Court to the detriment of its citizens. This was an unfortunate result, and one injured Plaintiffs in New Hampshire have been frustrated by since the ruling came down.
While Massachusetts has always been more consumer-friendly than New Hampshire, it is always important to note that New Hampshire does have some favorable laws. Two of them being no income tax and no sales tax, and the sales tax at least reduces costs for consumers.
Still, it can be a frustrating practice, and it is important to know your rights in both states when you are injured. The personal injury attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay can help you navigate the legal field and get the best benefit possible in your case. If you are injured in either New Hampshire in Massachusetts, contact our office today to find out what rights you have.