Do You Have Questions Regarding Your Insurance Coverage?
There are different insurance coverages that are implicated in a car accident or other personal injury-causing event: liability coverage, personal injury protection, and possibly uninsured or underinsured coverage.
Is it My Responsibility to Notify My Automobile Insurance Company After an Accident?
Most attorneys will report a Maryland automobile accident to the at-fault driver's liability carrier as part of handling your case. Many will also help you fill out a PIP application and assist you in the property damage aspect of your accident. However, the consensus is that you, as the insured automobile accident victim, must at least notify your insurer of the incident as per your obligations under your automobile insurance contract.
What's Involved in a Maryland Automobile Accident Claim?
Claims are separated into two categories: pre-suit and suit. "Pre-suit" pertains to any car accident claim that resolves prior to the commencement of litigation (i.e. a lawsuit). Pre-suit automobile claims processing typically involves the following:
- Setting up the claim
- Investigating liability
- Gathering information from police reports, witness statements, medical records, surveillance films, etc.
- Presenting the information to an adjuster
- Negotiating an appropriate settlement figure
If that process is unsuccessful, then attorneys who try their cases will file suit. The lawsuit may be filed in district court, where the limit of recovery is $30,000, but a trial date can be set within 60 days.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
At its most basic, uninsured motorist coverage is insurance designed to protect you when a at fault party lacks insurance, or sufficient insurance, to fully cover the loss. It is your insurance. Characters on your insurance card like UM/UIM and 50/100 are an indication of the cardholder’s coverage. UM means “uninsured” and UIM means “underinsured.”
Who Regulates the Insurance Companies?
The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) has the authority to regulate insurance companies operating in Maryland. It is an independent state agency that protects consumers by enforcing insurance laws. However, the MIA cannot weigh in on a dispute between you and your provider, determine fault or negligence, or determine the value of a claim or the amount of money owed to you.
Does it Matter Which Insurance Company Handles My Claim?
Another valid question. A few years ago, a lawyer's group, now known as the American Association for Justice, put out a fascinating publication called the '10 Worst Insurance Companies in America'.
It's a safe bet to say that most people know many insurance companies are massive and profitable. It's probably a safe bet to say that most people don't really understand just how much money the major insurance companies actually make.
The American Association for Justice puts that figure at 30 billion dollars annually for US property/casualty insurers. [citing information from the Insurance Information Institute].
The profits are in part the result of taking in more in premiums, or earning more on investment income from those premiums collected, than is paid in claims and other overhead. Put simply, the less paid out in claims, the higher the profits. A seasoned Maryland car accident lawyer may play a vital role in ensuring that your claim receives full compensation. According to the American Association for Justice, the 10 worst, in descending order are Allstate, Unum, AIG, State Farm, Conseco, WellPoint, Farmers, UnitedHealth, Torchmark, Liberty Mutual. [https://www.justice.org/news/allstate-ranks-worst-insurer-consumers].
What is PIP ?
PIP stands for personal insurance protection. It's an extension of a car insurance plan that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages. PIP is often called "no-fault" coverage, as it pays out claims regardless of who is at fault. If you are hurt in an accident and have PIP insurance, you can receive the maximum amount of benefits whether or not you were at fault.
What Happens if My Claim is Denied?
Insurance companies are bound by statute, regulation, and fiduciary obligations to accept claims unless there is an articulable reason to deny a claim. In theory, claims cannot be denied for arbitrary reasons. However, in my years of experience, I have seen insurers occasionally stretch this concept to the very edges of reality. If your claim is denied, you should contact an attorney to determine if there are additional actions you can take.
Can I Get my Premium Refunded If My Claim is Denied?
Section 27-403 of Maryland's insurance code makes it a "fraudulent insurance act" for the insurer to fail to return premiums where the "insurance contracted for is not provided." So, if your claim is denied, you are entitled to a refunded premium.