New Maine Driving Laws: Texting, Electronic Proof of Insurance and More


Several new Maine motor vehicle laws went into effect October 9, 2013. Among other topics, they deal with distracted driving, electronic proof of insurance, driving permit practice time, and accidents involving bicycles. Here are some of the key points Maine drivers will want to know.

Distracted Driving

Drivers cited for texting while driving will be charged:

  • a $250 minimum fine for the first violation;
  • a $500 fine for the second or subsequent offense within three years, plus 30-days license suspension for each offense above two. These suspension periods are mandatory, without a right to a hearing.

Electronic Proof of Insurance Electronic Proof of Insurance

Noyes Hall & Allen has provided electronic proof of insurance to our clients for several years. Most local city and town halls have accepted them after we made initial calls to explain them.

Now, the State of Maine has caught up. Police officers and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles must now accept proof of insurance in electronic form as well as paper.

Did you know?

Most of the insurance companies we represent offer an optional online account to our clients. Once you create an account, you can retrieve copies of bills, policies, evidence of insurance and other documents. If you’re interested, follow the link above to your company’s web site and create your account.

Practice Driving Time for Permits

The minimum practice time for anyone younger than 21 who applies for a learner’s permit after October 9 increased from 35 to 70 hours, including an increase in night driving from 5 to 10 hours.

three foot rule poster

Bicyclists and Roller Skiers

Bicyclists are now part of the definition of “traffic”. Along with motorists in 21 other states, Maine drivers have already been responsible for keeping a distance of at least 3 feet from a bicycle on the road. Now, a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist or roller skier is prima facie evidence that the motorist violated the three-foot law.

Other new driving laws deal with Veterans; driving on an expired license; and Operating Under the Influence (OUI). For more information about these new laws, visit this Maine Secretary of State web page.

For more information about Maine commercial vehicle insurance or Maine auto insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. You can even get up to 5 Maine car insurance quotes online in 10 minutes at our website. We’re independent and committed to you.

Who Is Liable for Pothole Damage to Your Car in Maine?



Potholes can cause hundreds to thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle, including flat tires, bent rims, misaligned steering and underside  damage. They can even cause an accident if you lose control of your vehicle or swerve suddenly to avoid one.


What should you do after you hit a pothole? Clients of our South Portland Maine insurance agency commonly ask three questions after they hit a pothole:

Who Pays for Pothole Damage to My Car?

Potholes can appear quickly, and can reappear even after they have been filled repeatedly. Maine law absolves municipalities from liability for damage caused by potholes unless the pothole was reported more than 24 hours before your accident, and untreated.  This is difficult to prove, which means you’re usually not going to get help from city or town hall. Maine State Law is even more lenient with state-owned roads: the state of Maine is never liable for damage caused by potholes.



Is Pothole Damage to My Vehicle Covered by Insurance?

Hitting a pothole, or any other hazard in the road (other than live animals) is covered by the collision section of your Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance policy. If you purchased collision coverage, your collision deductible will apply. If it is a single-car incident, it’s considered “at fault”, and therefore may increase your auto insurance rates. Your Maine insurance agent can help you decide whether or not you want to file an auto insurance claim for pothole damage.

Will Anyone Else Pay for Pothole Damage?

New car dealers sell a product called “road hazard warranty”. It typically covers road damage to tires and rims, with a small deductible. Check to see if you purchased this warranty when you bought or leased your vehicle. If so, you may be in luck.

"Fix It! Portland." web page.
“Fix It! Portland.”

What to Do if Your Vehicle is Damaged by a Pothole

  1. Pull off the road as soon as it’s safe. Is your vehicle is still OK to drive? If not, call a tow truck. 
  2. Note the date and time of the accident. Take a photo of the pothole and report it. If it’s a town road, report it to your municipality’s Public Works Department. If it’s a state route, report it to MDOT (207-885-7000 in Southern Maine).  The City of Portland has a web page: FixIt! Portland. They also have a mobile app.
  3. If you’re not sure your vehicle is OK, have a repair garage check it.
  4. Call your insurance agent if you’re considering whether to report an insurance claim.


Have questions about Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance? Want to compare Maine car insurance quotes in 10 minutes? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Sandy (aka Frankenstorm)


The path of Hurricane Sandy is still uncertain. Most recent estimates indicate that the storm will make landfall south of Maine.

A Storm That Misses Still Can Cause Damage

Even if the storm hits well to our south, high winds and rain are predicted over a large area, including ours. Forecasts include a very wide wind-field and varied degrees of rain and potential flooding that will probably affect at least Southern Maine. – as of 1100 10/26/12

Prepare Your Business

Better to prepare your business for the worst and never have to use it than to be completely unprepared. Peerless Insurance Company has created an excellent pre-hurricane checklist for businesses, which we have shared below.  We hope you find it helpful to prevent and mitigate costly losses and interruptions to your business.

Pre-Hurricane Checklist (.pdf, 85k)


We are happy to answer your questions about Maine business insurance, from workers’ compensation to business property to commercial vehicles and general liability. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799.5541.

WreckCheck App Review: What do Do After an Auto Accident?


We recently tried WreckCheck, a new free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)  that promises help reporting an auto accident to your insurance company.  In our opinion,  it’s the best auto-accident app we’ve seen yet.

WreckCheck allows you to enter your insurance policy information ahead of time, so you’ll have it handy in case of accident (Make sure you your insurance card is also in the glove box , in case your phone is missing or damaged).

What to Do After an Auto Accident

Even the most level-headed person can be flustered after an accident. What to do first? What information do I need? That’s where WreckCheck comes in. Just open the app and follow the prompts. The screens are simple and easy to use.

WreckCheck's Checklist Screen
The opening screen is simple and easy to use.

First, WreckCheck has a big red button to call 911. After you’ve reported the accident, if you’re safe and well enough, the app really becomes useful.

WreckCheck captures the accident’s location using your phone’s GPS, and prompts you to record the scene using your smartphone camera and microphone. There’s also a free-form text box to explain what happened. Finally, there’s a simple form prompting you for  information about the other vehicle, driver and passengers, including their insurance info. You can even record information about the responding police officer.

Once you’re done, email the whole report to your Maine auto insurance agent with the push of a button. WreckCheck is available in Apple iOS and Google Android format.

We like WreckCheck for several reasons:

  • It’s thorough. The app prompts you to gather all of the information your insurance company would need to start a claim.
  • It’s easy. The user interface is clean, and you can enter information by photo, voice or text.
  • It’s flexible. Many insurance companies have their own apps, which is great until you decide to shop for auto insurance and switch companies. With WreckCheck, you simply update your policy data and your insurance contact information. Even better, if you use a Maine Trusted Choice agent – who represents several insurance companies, all you have to do is change your company and policy number in the app. It can even be used to report commercial vehicle insurance claims.
  • It’s FREE!

 If you are looking for a locally-owned tech-savvy Portland Maine area insurance agency that offers a choice of many preferred insurance companies to protect your home, autos, toys or business, you should contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Register a Car or Truck in Maine


If you’ve recently moved to Maine or bought a car, you’ll need to register your vehicle in Maine. Before you can do that, you’ll need to provide proof  of  Maine auto insurance and pay excise tax at your local city or town hall.

It takes a little time, but it’s not a very complicated process.

1) Buy Maine Auto Insurance – Maine law requires you to carry at least minimal liability insurance. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you’ll also need to buy physical damage coverage (commonly called “comprehensive and collision”). If you have moved to Maine, you will need to insure your car here in order to register it here. If you live in Southern Maine, you can get up to 5 Maine auto insurance quotes at once on our web site, or simply call us for a quote. If you have a Maine commercial vehicle, insurance is still required. Call Noyes Hall & Allen for a business auto insurance quote.

Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance can send proof of insurance to your smartphone
Noyes Hall & Allen can send proof of Maine car insurance to your smartphone.

Your insurance company or agent will provide you with an insurance card. You’ll need to bring that to…

2. Pay Maine Excise Tax  at your local city or town hall. Most municipalities accept faxed or emailed insurance cards if you forget yours. We can also email one right to your smartphone, and you can simply show it to the person at the excise tax desk. If you’re re-registering a vehicle, you can do that at the same time at many municipal offices. If you’re registering a vehicle for the first time, though, you’ll need to….

3. Register Your Vehicle and Pick Up Your Plates at a Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles location. Generally, the fee is $35.00 a year for personal vehicles, unless you have a specialty plate. You’ll need to bring evidence that you’ve paid your excise tax and your proof of insurance.

Re-registration is usually an easy process. Simply bring your proof of insurance to your city or town hall. Many municipalities allow you to pay excise tax and registration right there – no need to go anywhere else.

If you have questions about insuring Maine personal or business vehicles, contact our experienced Portland Maine area insurance agents at 207-799-5541.


Does Your Car Insurance Cover a UHaul Truck?

The first of the month is a busy time for UHaul, Ryder and other truck rental shops. Pizza shops and beer stores too, as people bribe their friends to help them move. Our clients often ask if their Maine auto insurance policy covers them when they rent a truck.

Our answer is based upon Maine’s most common auto insurance forms, the ISO Personal Auto Policy. Check with your agent to be sure about your coverage.

As long as you’re renting for personal, not business use, your auto insurance protects you for liability, uninsured motorist and medical payments – NOT physical damage (“comprehensive and collision”). So, we recommend purchasing the Collision Damage Waiver coverage that the truck rental agency sells.

By the way, we’re talking about a big truck here – not a 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup. If you rent one of those, they’re covered the same way a rental car is.

Does Maine Auto Insurance Cover a Rented Trailer?

As long as it’s for personal use, your liability coverage applies just as for the renting a car or truck. Physical damage coverage is limited to $1,500. If the value of the trailer you rent is greater than $1500, buy the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency.

Does My Business Auto Insurance Cover a Truck Rented for Business Purposes?

If your business purchased Hired Auto coverage (part of a businessowners insurance policy or a business auto policy), you may have liability coverage. There are ways to cover the physical damage to a truck you rent for business. Contact your Maine business insurance agency for answers.

See our blog post for information about insuring a rental car on your Maine auto insurance policy. If you have questions about Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.


Should I Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance-
Does my Auto Insurance Cover me when I rent a car-

What If You Are Hit by Someone With No Insurance?

The Uninsured Motorist coverage in your Maine auto insurance policy also protects you against uninsured and underinsured drivers. If someone hits you – their fault – and they have no insurance, your policy acts as if they had the same Bodily Injury liability limits you do, and pays for your bodily injuries, and those in your vehicle. It’s the same if the at-fault driver had low liability insurance limits, and you bought higher ones.

Isn’t Insurance Mandatory in Maine?

Yes, in Maine, car insurance is mandatory – at least liability insurance. Maine DMV requires proof of insurance to register your car. So everyone’s insured, right? Not really.

An estimated 4% of Maine drivers are uninsured – and that’s the 2nd best rate in the country. The Insurance Research Council estimated that nearly 14% of U.S. drivers had no car insurance at all.

Repairing Your Car

If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you’ll have to rely on your own policy’s collision coverage to repair your vehicle. That’s assuming that you have collision coverage on your vehicle. If not, you’re on your own to repair or replace your vehicle.

But that’s only half the story: what about the people who buy state minimum liability limits? Maine’s minimum limits are only $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 property damage. Is your vehicle worth more than the $25,000 minimum limit? What if the at-fault driver hits more than one vehicle? The minimum-limits driver’s policy only pays a total of $25,000 for all damage.

Out of Staters and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Mainers are a pretty honest bunch. 96% of them carry at least minimal liability insurance. But what about people “from away”? What’s that nickname on Maine’s license plates again? Oh yeah…

Maine license plate - "Vacationland"

Most of our out-of-state visitors are from the northeast, right? Click on the map below to enlarge it, and you’ll see that of the 10 states within an easy day’s drive of Maine, 2 do not require drivers to buy insurance AT ALL. Six more require per person Bodily Injury limits of $20,000 or less.

Map of uninsured motorist laws by state

In Maine, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage limits almost always match your own liability limits. If you have less than $500,000 per person in bodily injury coverage, and your agent hasn’t recommended that you increase your limits, maybe it’s time to contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We represent several different insurance companies, and will help you find the best value for your individual situation.

Should I Drop Collision Coverage?

Is it smart to drop collision insurance on an older vehicle?  Your decision depends on your own circumstances. Here are a few things to consider.

“The 3 Rules of  Tens”

It might be helpful to consider three things when evaluating the risk you take when you remove collision coverage from your Maine auto insurance policy:

  • TEN PERCENT When collision coverage costs more than 10% of the book value of your vehicle plus your collision deductible.  For example, if the book value of your vehicle is $3,000 and your collision deductible is $500, consider removing collision coverage if it costs more than $350 per year for that vehicle.
  • TEN YEARSIf your vehicle is more than 10 years old, it may no longer have enough value to warrant insuring.
  • TEN TIMES If you have 10 times your collision premium in a “rainy day fund”, you probably have enough of a cushion to put a sizable down payment on a replacement vehicle. If you pay $350 a year for collision insurance and your “rainy day fund” has at least $3500 in it, you might reasonably risk dropping collision coverage. If you don’t have that much saved, you would probably need the insurance proceeds to help you make a down payment on another vehicle.

The Risk of Removing Collision

If another driver hits you and is at fault, their insurance should pay to fix your car – even if you don’t have collision coverage. But remember that fault can be disputed, and not everyone has insurance.

If you remove collision, you’d have no coverage for things like:

  • Hitting someone when you are at fault – or partly at fault
  • Someone hits your car, and is at fault, but doesn’t have insurance
  • Someone hits your parked car and doesn’t leave a note
  • Running over debris in the road and damaging your car.

When Should You Keep Collision Coverage?

There are some times when you should definitely NOT drop collision coverage:

  • You have a loan or lease on the vehicle. Your loan or lease contract requires you to carry collision coverage for the length of the agreement.
  • You have only one vehicle. Most multi-car families can limp by on one car while one is in the body shop. But, if you’re a 1-car household, you’ll probably want coverage to rent another while yours is being repaired. Also, you’ll definitely need to buy rental car insurance on vacation if you don’t have collision coverage on at least one vehicle on your policy.
  • You’re worried about being hit by an uninsured driver.  If you have no collision coverage, someone hits you and it’s their fault, their insurance will pay. But, what if you are hit by an uninsured driver? Obviously, there’s no one else to pay; if you don’t have collision coverage, you’re on your own to repair your vehicle.  

    Maine’s ratio of uninsured drivers is 4%. That’s among the lowest in the country. But, we’re also inundated with drivers “from away” during tourist season. Other states have many more uninsured drivers.

Related Post: “Someone Hit My Parked Car!”

As you can see, there is no single answer to the question of when to insure collision or not. It depends on the vehicle, your financial situation, the cost of your coverage, and your own risk tolerance.

Questions about Maine Auto Insurance?

If you’re a client, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland for answers to your insurance questions. If you’re ready, you can request a policy change here.

If you live in Southern Maine and aren’t a client, call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s most preferred insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.


Pothole Damage
When a great car insurance quote isn't.

Recent Law: Texting & Driving Illegal in Maine

As of this week, Maine is the 33rd state to ban texting while driving. The recently enacted law includes a minimum $100 fine for drivers caught sending electronic messages including texts, emails or instant messages from a mobile device.  The law stops short of banning hand-held cellphone use by drivers. Several Atlantic states, including Connecticut, New York and New Jersey prohibit drivers from using hand-held devices.

map of texting bans by state as of Sepember 2011
source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (

It remains to be seen whether Maine auto insurance rates increase for drivers who are caught texting while driving. More likely, scofflaws may lose Maine Auto Insurance Discounts if their MVR (motor vehicle record) shows a violation.

It’s unclear how Maine commercial vehicle insurance policies might be affected if a business’ fleet drivers are ticketed for texting & driving.   In general, commercial underwriters have a higher threshold for violations before surcharging a policy.

If you have questions about your personal  auto or business vehicle insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agency in South Portland at 207-799-5541. You can also request a Maine car insurance quote or a Maine business insurance quote on our web site.

Am I Covered if a Falling Satellite Hits My House or Car?

I realize I’m out of the loop, but was I the only one surprised to wake this morning to news that a huge piece of space junk is headed straight for Earth?

As usual, my friend Sabine was way ahead of me. She had already tweeted this insurance question (and blog post idea!):



The Answer to Every Insurance Question is: “It Depends”.

If you have  Maine homeowners insurance, business property insurance, or anything other than the most basic kind of property policy, you’re covered for damage caused by “aircraft, including self-propelled missiles and spacecraft”.

If you have  Maine car insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, or contractors’ equipment coverage, and have included “other than collision coverage”, you’re covered against hurtling space junk. If you bought “liability only” coverage, you’re taking your chances.

Fortunately, your chances of getting hit are infinitessimally low. Probably.

If you live in Southern Maine, and  have questions about your insurance, our Portland area insurance agency can help. Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. Or, post on our wall by finding Noyes Hall & Allen on Facebook or tweet us @NHAIns on Twitter.