New Insurance Law Change in Maryland That Will Affect You After July 2018
For years, if you were involved in a crash with someone whose insurance policy was not large enough to cover all of your harms and losses that you suffered in the crash, you could use your own Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage from your automobile insurance policy to increase the available coverage, as a car accident lawyer Towson MD trusts can explain. UIM coverage is an auto insurance policy provision that provides insurance coverage to include property and bodily damage caused by another motorist with insufficient insurance. UIM coverage is designed to provide the injured party with compensation above the Defendant’s (at-fault party) policy. However, prior to July 2018, the only way you could use your own policy was if it exceeded the defendant’s coverage amount. In Maryland, unlike other states, you could not add or stack your policy on top of the defendant’s policy, but you could only get the total amount of your coverage. For example, if the defendant (the person who caused the crash) only had a $30,000 insurance policy, and you had $100,000 UIM, the most you could get is $100,000. If the defendant only had a $30,000 insurance policy limits, and you also had $30,000 UIM, the most you could get is $30,000 from the defendant’s insurance company. This will soon change.
A recently-enacted statute substantially changes the law regarding UIM claims in Maryland. Insurance Article Section 19-509.1 now provides that any policy issued or sold in Maryland after July 1, 2018, MUST offer “enhanced” Uninsured (UM) and UIM coverage.
There are typically three types of uninsured motorists defined under the uninsured motorist clause:
1. People who are driving ta vehicle and do not have liability coverage for the car they are driving. In most states, it is a crime to be uninsured in this manner.
2. When a person flees the scene of an accident without leaving information to identify him or herself. While we strongly recommend getting the license plate number, name of driver, and other identifying information when you are involved in a crash, sometimes this can’t be safely obtained. If you are unable to get the information and do not know anything about the person who hit you, this may likely become a UM case.
3. A stolen vehicle is usually considered uninsured from the time it has been stolen.
What this means for you is that you will be able to add or stack your policy on top of the Defendant’s policy, and your UIM carrier will no longer get an offset for the limits of the tortfeasor’s liability coverage. Therefore, in the examples above where the defendant has $30,000 and the Plaintiff has $100,000, the available coverage would now be $130,000. Where both parties have $30,000 liability and UIM limits, the available coverage would now be $60,000.
This change in the law is extremely important because now because people will be able to get a benefit from their policy that they pay for on a yearly basis. People with significant injuries and damages will be compensated more than they would be now, as almost any claim that could exceed the defendant’s liability limits will now have a UIM component.
Insurance companies may want you to decline this coverage because it will be a cost-savings to it. In order to ensure your rights are protected, you should NOT decline this enhanced coverage (which is similar to how you could decline personal injury protection (PIP) benefits). It is important to make sure your policy has this enhanced coverage, so contact your insurance company now and confirm you will have this coverage when the law goes into effect.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into insurance.