Most Maryland drivers are conscientious about insuring their motor vehicles. However, the Insurance Research Council has conducted a survey and found that about one vehicle in eight in the state of Maryland is not insured.

Coverage required by law

Maryland state law requires the owners of motor vehicles to purchase insurance to cover costs of injury and property damage to others in an accident, among other losses. A part of the insurance policy is coverage for damage caused by uninsured motorists.

The required amount of motor vehicle insurance coverage in Maryland is a minimum of $30,000 per person who is injured and $60,000 per accident.

If someone is injured in a collision with a car whose owner did not insure it, or in a hit-and-run accident where it is impossible to identify the vehicle that fled, the injured person’s own insurance company should then step in and pay damages under the uninsured motorists’ portion of the insurance policy.

Reporting failure to have insurance

When drivers exchange information after a car accident, both should provide the name of the insurance carrier and a policy number. If a driver cannot produce insurance information, there is a good bet the car is not insured.

The other driver should then report the accident to law enforcement and file an uninsured motorist complaint with the Insurance Compliance Division (ICD) of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration. Complaint forms are available through the MVA website.

The MVA proceeds to request proof of insurance from the driver or owner named in the complaint. The driver or owner has 30 days to respond, and vehicle registration privileges could then be suspended.

Other consequences of being uninsured

Under Maryland law, there are several additional penalties a motor vehicle owner faces for failing to obtain insurance. The license plates for the uninsured vehicle will be void, and the owner will not be allowed to register any other vehicle or restore the suspended registration until the insurance violation has been taken care of.

Once the registration is suspended, the license plates could even be removed from the car and confiscated by a tag recovery company.

After obtaining insurance, in order to restore a car’s suspended registration and recover the license plates, the owner may have to pay a fee of up to $25.

The costs will mount up, as uninsured motorist fees will be due. For the first 30 days of failure to insure the vehicle, the owner can be assessed a $150 fee. Then a daily fee of $7 applies for each subsequent day.

Finally, a criminal penalty could kick in if the owner has falsely claimed to have insurance. The uninsured owner could be subjected to a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year imprisonment or both.

Needless to say, driving without insurance is risky business. If anyone is injured by an uninsured driver, the lack of insurance will certainly be found out.

The injured person, meanwhile, will want to obtain capable legal representation to assist in filing a claim for uninsured motorists’ benefits. Insurance companies are sometimes slow and may seem uncooperative in honoring uninsured motorists’ claims, and having an attorney who knows how to hold an insurance company accountable will be invaluable.