What Are the Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in Maryland?
There are countless auto insurance policies to choose from, but no matter what sort of policy you eventually select, Maryland law requires certain mandatory coverage levels. In this article, our Baltimore car accident injury lawyers will explain state minimum coverage requirements – and the harsh penalties motorists face for driving while uninsured.
Mandatory Auto Insurance Coverage in MD
As a state resident, you must comply with Maryland’s minimum auto insurance requirements. These requirements are that (1) the insurance company you choose must be licensed to operate in the state of Maryland, and (2) the policy you select must, at bare minimum, provide the following liability coverage (applicable to all policies renewed or written after January 1, 2011):
- At least $30,000 of bodily injury coverage, per person.
- At least $60,000 of bodily injury coverage, per accident.
- At least $15,000 of property damage coverage.
Bodily injury coverage has a few different functions. If you are ever named as the defendant in a lawsuit, it will help to cover the cost of hiring an attorney to represent you, as well as compensation for the plaintiff, which may be awarded to help with their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering caused by injuries (up to the policy limits). Property damage coverage serves the same purposes, with the obvious difference being that it applies to automotive repairs rather than physical injuries.
Each policy sold in Maryland is required to contain something called uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which is meant to help protect you financially if you are ever injured by a driver who does not have auto insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage also includes underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which will help cover you if the costs of treating your injuries exceed the other driver’s policy limits.
Unless you decide to get a waiver, you must also have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in a minimum amount of $2,500. This minimum is set forth by Maryland Insurance Code Ann. § 19-505. PIP coverage will help reimburse you for “reasonable and necessary expenses that arise from a motor vehicle accident,” including hospital bills, dental bills, and other medical bills arising within three years of the accident.
To reiterate, these policies represent the mandatory minimum coverage levels. Depending on the size of your budget and how frequently you drive, you may wish to purchase a broader plan. Some other types of coverage you might be interested in include:
- Collision Coverage
- Comprehensive Coverage
- Mechanical Breakdown Coverage
- Medical Payments Coverage
- Towing and Labor Coverage
Some people feel these additional forms of coverage to be a completely unnecessary expense, while others enjoy the security and peace of mind. Take the time to do your research and decide what sort of plan is the right fit for you. Don’t let an insurance company pressure you into selecting a larger policy than you really want or need.
What Are the Penalties for Driving While Uninsured?
If you’re reading this article, presumably you’re shopping for auto insurance in Maryland. It’s extremely important that you follow through and buy a policy, because if you decide to put it off and drive without insurance, you will subject yourself to costly financial penalties. You will receive a flat $150 fine for the first 30 days of driving without insurance, plus a $7 fine for each additional day. The maximum fine is capped at $2,500 per vehicle, per year.
In addition to being ordered to pay hefty fines, your vehicle registration will also be suspended. If you are caught driving with a suspended registration, your vehicle will be impounded, and you will receive yet another fine (or ticket).
Do not make the mistake of thinking you can simply ignore the problem until it disappears. If you do not respond to insurance notices from the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), your case will merely be sent to the Central Collections Unit (CCU), at which point a 17% “collections fee” will be tacked onto any fines you already owe.
The takeaway message is that, while insurance can be expensive, the consequences of driving while uninsured can wind up costing you even more – and, if you are ever sued for causing a crash or collision, you will have no financial safety net to fall back on. In short, driving while uninsured carries all the expense, but none of the benefits, of having car insurance.
If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, and you have questions about how compensation and insurance work, call the personal injury attorneys of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000. Our attorneys handle automotive accidents throughout the state of Maryland, including car accidents in Silver Spring, Frederick, Gaithersburg, and Baltimore.