Know What to Carry – Understand Maryland’s Auto Insurance Requirements
A lot of consumers think they understand what they are buying when they purchase car insurance. But then again, there is a lot of misinformation out there, especially from savvy insurance agents looking for a big commission. Here is a quick and simple explanation of Maryland’s auto insurance requirements, and just what you get from each mandatory type of coverage you must carry.
Maryland is a Fault-Based State
Unlike states that require you to maximize the benefits available to you under your own auto insurance (no-fault) states, Maryland allows you to directly sue the person who caused your injuries. This is also known as a tort-liability state. In other words, if you cause an accident, you are directly responsible for the injuries and damages. If someone else causes them, then they are responsible. However, Maryland does have a sort of ‘hybrid’ rule that requires all motorists to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in order to cover their own medical bills and other losses.
Required Coverage for All Maryland Drivers
All Maryland drivers must carry liability coverage. But there’s more to insurance than just liability. Here are three basic types of insurance that all drivers should carry. Note that there are other options, like underinsured motorist, rental reimbursement, and so forth, but the following should be considered an absolute necessity for all drivers:
Liability. Liability coverage pays for the damages you cause to others. If you run a red light and seriously injure someone, then your own liability insurance will pay up to the limits you purchase. If the injuries exceed the amount of coverage you purchased, then you can be held personally responsible, meaning the injured party can seek wage garnishment, assess liens on your assets, seize your property, and take other types of legal actions to collect. Maryland only requires that you carry $30,000 per person and up to $60,000 per event. Of course, it is wise to carry more.
Uninsured Motorist. This is insurance you carry on yourself and your passengers, so that you are covered in the event that an uninsured motorist causes you or your passengers’ injuries. You may have heard the expression, “you can’t get blood from a turnip.” Well, if an uninsured motorist hits you, and that person has no assets and no means to pay, you will be out of luck. Yes, he or she may lose their license, have to pay more in the future for insurance, or even face serious criminal charges. But you are still stuck with injuries and medical bills you can’t pay.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The default rule is that the insurance company must offer you PIP. But Maryland law allows you to waive this coverage by expressly checking a box to do so. This coverage is no-fault insurance, which pays up to $2,500 for your lost wages and medical expenses incurred in an accident. It’s very cheap to add to your policy, and everyone should have it. Many healthcare providers will refuse to bill health insurance if your injuries are incurred in a collision, and deductibles and copays can get very expensive. Having PIP helps a lot.
What to Do if Injured in a Maryland Car Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, or Howard Counties, you should strongly consider getting help from an experienced auto accident lawyer. Insurance companies are terrific at selling insurance and collecting premiums; this is how they make money. But when it comes time to pay for injuries, those same insurance companies will fight hard to avoid paying you anything, even if you are catastrophically injured. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. today to get a free consultation and discuss your options.