Under Maryland law (Transportation Code §17-103), all motor vehicles registered in Maryland must carry insurance.
The minimum car insurance required is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person (and for uninsured motorist coverage),
- $60,000 for bodily injury for two or more persons (again, also for uninsured motorist coverage)
- $15,000 for property damage.
Why are Maryland's limits so low? The truth is Maryland is in line with most states. There are a few outliers like Maine and Wisconsin, which have 50/100/35 and 50/100/55 limits, respectively. But most states are in line with or even behind Maryland.
There are two reasons why you should selfishly carry far more insurance than the minimum policy limits in Maryland. The first reason for taking just the minimum coverage is foolish is obvious. You might get in an accident that is your fault, and the value of the claim could exceed your policy limits.
One of two things can happen when this happens, and they are both bad for you. First, the victim can get a verdict against you that exceeds your insurance limits. In this case, the victim can go after your assets and future wages and otherwise make your life miserable. The second scenario is less understood and more likely to come back to bite you in real life. If you do not have enough insurance, the victim's uninsured motorist coverage pays the victim for the difference between the value of the claim and your insurance policy.
That solves your problem for a moment. But the victim's insurance company may reserve the right to bring a claim against you for whatever they paid out. This concept is called subrogation. These insurance companies have an entire cottage industry with lawyers that do nothing but beat down people who find themselves in this situation of not having enough coverage.
But the risk of personal exposure pales in comparison to this more critical risk: the other driver does not have enough insurance to cover your loss. Like the second scenario above, your insurance company does step in under this scenario, if your insurance coverage is higher than the person who caused your injuries. (On most policies your uninsured motorist coverage mirrors your liability coverage so if you have, for example, a $300,000 policy limit for your negligence, that would be the same policy limit for your uninsured motorist coverage.)
We cannot underscore the gravity of this. We have had clients in death cases, in paraplegia cases, where they only got the minimum insurance limits. People just don't realize this. They get so angry that the person that hit them was so irresponsible to have so little coverage without truly appreciating that they could have protected themselves if they had had better insurance coverage themselves.
What is most frustrating for victims in these cases is just how little it would have cost to get the coverage that would have provided more protection. In most cases, you can dramatically increase your coverage limits for less than $100 a year. Remember that most people have much less insurance coverage than they think they do.
If you have been injured in a serious car accident, we may be able to help you or point you in the right direction. You can call us 24 hours a day at 800-553-8082. For a free consultation with a Maryland personal injury lawyer via the Internet, click here.Relevant Maryland Case Law
- Wilson v. Nationwide, 395 Md. 524, 910 A.2d 1122 (2006). The Maryland high court affirms that public policy permits fellow employee exclusions as they are liability exclusions in automobile policies. One reason for this is that that are seen most often in commercial policies and are designed to prevent an employer from maintaining coverage for employees under both worker's compensation and business automobile insurance policies.
- Larimore v. American Ins. Co., 314 Md. 617, 552 A.2d 889(1989). The court held that the minimum coverage still applied because the fellow employee exclusion was authorized by the Maryland's requirement that all vehicle maintain insurance. So if the policy says there is no coverage, you still the the minimum.
- West American Ins. Co. v. Popa, 352 Md. 455, 723 A.2d 1 (1998). The court found that a provision that excluded a vehicle owned and operated by a self-insurer or governmental unit or agency was void because it was against good public policy.
- Leonard v. Sav-A-Stop Services, 289 Md. 204, 424 A.2d 336 (1981). Court found an employer had no duty to inform an employee that a fellow employee exclusion in a commercial car insurance policy could result in only minimal coverage.