According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 1 in 8 drivers in the United States are uninsured, meaning that these drivers are on the road without even the minimum auto insurance required by law. If you are injured in an accident with a negligent uninsured motorist, it is likely that you will be unable to recover the full value of your claim. This is because the overwhelming majority of drivers lack the financial resources to resolve even a small claim out of pocket.
However, Maryland law requires drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage when they purchase auto insurance. Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage protects a driver by providing insurance in a certain a certain amount (the “policy limit”) when a covered individual is involved in an accident with a negligent uninsured driver.
UM coverage has the added benefit of protecting drivers when they are involved in an accident with a negligent underinsured motorist. For example, if a negligent driver has a Maryland minimum $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident liability policy, and the client has a $100,000 per person/$300,000 UM policy, then the negligent driver’s insurance policy will be responsible for covering the first $30,000 of damages. A separate claim against the client’s UM policy will provide coverage for $70,000, representing the difference between the negligent driver’s minimum policy and the $100,000 UM policy limit.
The policy limit for UM coverage is the same as the liability coverage limit on most insurance policies. When renewing an auto insurance policy, drivers have the option to increase their coverage amounts at relatively nominal rates. Drivers should take care to ensure that they have an adequate amount of both liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We strongly recommend to our clients that they buy as much coverage as their budget will allow when renewing their auto insurance policy. While Maryland has a relatively low rate of uninsured drivers (estimated at around 2%), the only way to be sure that you will be adequately protected in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver is to have purchased sufficient coverage yourself. We recommend purchasing at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident in UM coverage. These limits should provide sufficient coverage for all but the most severe motor vehicle accidents.
Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A. handles auto accidents throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia and has extensive experience handing uninsured motorist claims. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, please call our personal injury team at (301) 220-2200.