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What You Need to Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Maryland

The State of Maryland requires all licensed drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. This includes at least $30,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury or death to one person in an accident caused by the insured; $60,000 per accident if there are multiple victims; and $15,000 for any property damage.

Since Maryland is an “at-fault” state, the insurance company for the driver who causes the accident is typically liable for providing coverage. But what if the negligent driver was not insured? Or their coverage is not sufficient to fully compensate the victims, particularly when multiple people are injured in the same accident?

If the victims have their own auto insurance, then they will be covered in such cases by uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Unlike some states where UM coverage is optional, in Maryland it is mandatory. You are required to purchase UM coverage based on the same minimums described above for liability coverage.

How UM Coverage Works

As noted above, UM coverage is designed to cover accidents where the negligent driver either has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your damages. But UM coverage is also applicable when the negligent driver is simply unknown. This commonly occurs in “hit and run” accidents, where the driver flees the scene without stopping and is never identified by the police.

In any UM coverage scenario, your own insurer effectively “steps into the shoes” of the negligent driver and assumes responsibility for your losses. These losses include things like medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. UM coverage also compensates you for property damage to repair or replace your vehicle.

Keep in mind that if the negligent driver has insurance, you first need to file a claim with their carrier before pursuing any UM coverage. Only if your damages exceed the limits of the other driver’s policy is your own insurance company required to pay anything. This means that if you accept a settlement offer from the other driver’s insurer for less than the policy limits, you cannot then turn around and file a UM claim.

Historically, UM coverage did not “stack.” That is, if you filed a claim for UM benefits, your insurer was only required to pay the difference between the limits of your policy and that of the negligent driver policy. Since 2018, however, Maryland law requires insurers to offer “enhanced” UM coverage. If you have such enhanced coverage, your policy will stack–i.e., offer coverage in addition to–the negligent driver’s coverage.

As with any insurance, however, merely having a policy is no guarantee the insurer will pay out your UM claim. Your insurer can still contest or deny coverage if it thinks it has legal grounds to do so. And there are a number of rules and regulations the policyholder needs to follow in order to pursue a successful claim.

Contact Waldorf Car Accident Attorney Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced lawyer at (301) 870-1200.