Articles Posted in Insurance Carriers

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Although automobile liability insurance is mandatory for Maryland drivers, I cannot urge drivers enough to carry significant uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects drivers when they are in a collision caused by a driver that has failed to obtain automobile insurance or when the offending driver cannot be identified (i.e. a hit and run or phantom vehicle scenario). While Maryland law mandates that all motor vehicles must carry liability insurance, data provided by the Insurance Information Institute estimates that over 15% of all Maryland drivers are unlawfully uninsured motorists.  Moreover, neighboring states, such as Virginia and Delaware, do not have any laws mandating that drivers carry liability insurance, so victims of collisions caused by those drivers who enter Maryland may be left without recourse or a means to obtain compensation. When this occurs, you and the occupants in your vehicle may look to your own motor vehicle insurance policy to compensate you for your damages up to your policy’s UM coverage limits.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) protects drivers and occupants of the vehicle who are involved in a collision caused by a driver who did not have sufficient coverage to compensate them for their damages. Maryland law requires a minimum of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per occurrence, for liability and UM/UIM limits. In this scenario, the insurance company will never pay more than $30,000 for any one individual or more than $60,000 for the entirety of all persons affected by a collision.  At first glance, one might think those sums are sufficient, however, with the dramatic rise in medical costs, those sums barely make a dent in the medical costs in cases where there are serious injuries or where multiple people are injured. Keep this in mind, a brief trip on a Medivac Helicopter to Shock Trauma costs approximately $90,0000. A spinal fusion procedure for a back injury can easily run you upwards of $60,000.


Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

UIM coverage can protect you from losing all your assets and going bankrupt from medical expenses or not being able to work when someone who has insufficient insurance coverage injures you in a collision. UIM coverage provides you, the occupants of your vehicle, and your resident family relatives with additional coverage up to the difference between the limits of UIM coverage and the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage. In other words, if the vehicle that caused the collision had $30,000 in insurance coverage and you carried a policy with $100,000 in UIM coverage, you could be entitled to additional compensation of up to $70,000 from your UIM policy once you receive the full limits of the bodily injury coverage from the offending vehicle.  Keep in mind that you must first receive the full limits of bodily injury coverage from the offending vehicle before your UIM claim can become ripe.[1]


How much uninsured motorist coverage do I need?

With insurance costs always rising, many are lax to purchase sufficient coverage to protect themselves and their families.  While purchasing the minimal amounts of motor vehicle insurance to become a legal driver in Maryland can be costly, especially if you have a negative driving record, it typically does not cost vehicle owners that much more to become sufficiently insured and to increase your protections. I recommend that all vehicle owners purchase a minimum of $250,000 (per person)/$500,000 (per occurrence) in coverage limits for both your Bodily Injury and UM/UIM portions of your policy.[2]  If you have a family, if your family depends upon you for its support, own a business, have substantial assets, or need greater peace of mind, I always recommend obtaining at least $1 million in Bodily Injury and UM/UIM coverage. This additional level of protection will follow you and your family even if they are involved in a collision that does not involve a family vehicle.

While increasing your policy limits will likely increase your insurance premiums, this is definitely not an area of your budget where you want to skimp.  Far too often I hear my clients proudly declare, “I have full coverage.”  Full coverage by no means, however, equates to good, sufficient coverage.  All “full coverage” means is that you carry liability and comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, and sometimes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as well.  Every day I meet with clients who thought they had sufficient coverage because they purchased “full coverage” wherein reality, all they have is a policy with coverage up to Maryland’s minimal limits of $30,000/$60,000.

Remember, it is extremely important to call and retain a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after any collision or injury you or a loved one sustains.  You should reach out prior to speaking with anyone from any insurance company.  As always, I remain available to consult with you in any injury situation or if you have questions about whether you may be entitled to benefits under any policy of insurance. Please contact me, Jason Wasserman, at (410) 385-9110.


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Homeowners insurance, depending upon the exact language, normally excludes intentional acts by insured that cause injury. A policy that excludes coverage for “damage which is either expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured,” has been interpreted as excluding coverage for results that were subjectively intended by insured’s act. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Sparks, 63 Md. App. 738, 742 (1985). Moreover, the court has interpreted “intent” within the insurance policy as, “…desires to cause consequences…or believes that such consequences are substantially certain to result from his conduct.” Id. at 744 (emphasis added). However, the court has distinguished “intentional” from “wanton,” in noting that “wanton” conduct is described as consequences probably certain to result. Id. (emphasis added). Under such analysis, homeowners insurance would cover for an insured’s wanton conduct causing injury to a trespasser.

A federal case, using Maryland law, discussed a policy excluding coverage for acts by the insured that “reasonably expected or intended to cause a loss.” The court stated the exclusion language applied to insured’s conduct of kicking in bathroom stall door that resulted in the door hitting the plaintiff and causing injuries. Blue Ridge Ins. Co. v. Puig, 64 F. Supp.2d 514 (1999). The court in Blue Ridge Ins. Co., distinguished the case with Allstate Ins. Co., on the fact that the insurance policy in Blue Ridge Ins. Co., excluded acts “reasonably expected…to cause a loss” as opposed to the language contained in the policy in Allstate Ins. Co. (excluding coverage for damage which is either expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured.)

Often times, their is a fine line between negligence and perceived intentional acts. This can mean the difference between insurance coverage of no insurance coverage. At Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White, our experienced Maryland personal injury lawyers have successfully walked this fine line on many occasions. For further information, please contact us.

Occasionally in Maryland personal injury claims, a situation arises when one or more insurance companies agree to pay their entire policy to the claimant(s), but are unable to do so without exposing itself to potential liability. This situation often occurs when two or more persons are are injured and are competing for a limited amount of insurance. Rather than cut a deal with one of the victims, the insurance company will file an interpleader action.

Generally, An action for interpleader may be brought against two are more adverse claimants, when those claimants claim to be entitled to certain property, said property is within the possession of the Plaintiff, and the claims are such that the Plaintiff may be exposed to double or multiple liability, meaning that the Plaintiff could be subject to pay out more money then is actually in their possession.

An Interpleader Action in Maryland can be filed in state of federal court.

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