When is Proof of Maryland Auto Insurance Necessary?
Vehicle owners living in the Old Line State need to be able to show that they have purchased automobile coverage when requested by an officer of the law or by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). This is because all registered automobiles in the state are required to have insurance that contains a minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage liability, as well as uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is required as well; however, some motorists may be able to waive PIP coverage.
If a driver is unable to demonstrate that they have purchased Maryland auto insurance that has met the state requirements, the offending motorist may:
- Lose their license plates and vehicle registration.
- Pay an uninsured motorist penalty fee of $150 for the first 30 days and $7 for each subsequent day, up to $2,500 a year.
- Pay a fine up to $1,000 and possibly receive a year in prison if the driver provides false evidence of coverage.
- Be prohibited from registering any vehicles or renewing any suspended registration until all insurance violations have been cleared.
Following a conviction of driving uninsured, a motorist may then have to pay a variety of restoration fees and prove that a policy has been purchased in order to have their registration and driving privileges returned. In order to decrease the percentage of motorists driving without adequate coverage, which the Insurance Research Council estimated to be at 15 percent in 2009, the MVA conducts random investigations on registered automobiles to ensure that coverage is being maintained.
If an MD motorist is found to be uninsured, the MVA typically requires the offending individual to provide proof of insurance with a Financial Responsibility Filing (FR-19) form in order to avoid the state imposed consequences associated with being uninsured. This form can be obtained from any insurer licensed to do business in the state, is free of charge and demonstrates that sufficient coverage has been purchased that meets state requirements. Instead of simply choosing a company, residents are urged to first shop around and compare the options.
The Maryland Insurance Administration states that there are over 200 companies licensed to sell coverage within the state, so if drivers take the time to make MD car insurance comparisons then motorists may have a better chance of finding a policy that is affordably priced. Comparing quotes from numerous sources may allow a resident to choose an insurer that is both reputable and competitively priced. In addition, maintaining a protection plan can help a vehicle owner avoid potentially expensive repairs or medical costs after an accident.
Being prepared for potential accident related costs is particularly important because of the estimated congestion in the Old Line State. Local authorities believe that MD experiences the second-worst congestion in the nation, and that the demand on the local road system may increase by 40 percent by 2020. In crowded urban areas there is typically an increased chance of being involved in an accident, and being involved in a crash while uninsured can be financially devastating. Motorists are urged to ensure that their policies are up-to-date, that they can provide sufficient proof of coverage, and to avoid taking the risk of driving without a policy.