Arbitration Clauses and Maryland Car Insurance Contracts

Without question, insurance companies would much prefer to arbitrate its personal injury cases in Maryland. Arbitrations require less time spent by the insurance companies lawyers and, if mandatory, would deprive Maryland personal injury auto accident victims the right to present their case to a jury of the victim’s peers.

Accordingly, insurance companies have attempted to write into the insurance policy language an arbitration clause when the insured person needs to bring a claim with its own insurance company because of personal injuries suffered as the result of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Some states allow this. In fact, arbitration is required in uninsured motorist cases in Illinois, California, and Massachusetts. Texas is reportedly considering such a rule. But, in Maryland and 22 other states, insurance companies are prohibited from imposing arbitration. There is a statute - § 19-509 of the Maryland Insurance Code - that forbids insurance companies from inserting binding arbitration clauses in insurance contracts with their own insureds. In other words, Maryland public policy rewrites these contracts.

This is a good rule. Maryland's court system is a good one. It has well-established rules of evidence and procedural safeguards that plaintiffs are not going to get in an arbitration, even with a fair and reasonable arbitrator because, by definition, the arbitration is a shortcut procedure to justice.

Does this mean arbitration is not an ineffective tool for plaintiffs in personal injury cases? No. Our law firm arbitrates (and mediates) many personal injury car accident case with insurance companies because it is often an effective means of resolving the dispute. But we do so on our terms without bowing to the insurance companies and their handpicked arbitrators.

Key Maryland Uninsured Motorist CasesMore Information on Maryland Uninsured Motorist Cases

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