As a Maryland auto accident attorney, I know how costs can add up for the average family. When a car, truck or motorcycle accident causes a wage earner to be hospitalized for injuries suffered during a crash, medical costs and lost earnings can put many families into a terrible bind. Because carrying auto insurance on your vehicle is required by law, premiums are another cost that simply cannot be avoided.
Recently, news out of Annapolis shows that the state legislature is working on a bill that would likely increase insurance premiums for nearly every one of the 61,000 Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund customers. At the time of the news article, the bill passed through the House despite the protestations of the Republican side.
The bill would require policyholders to carry a minimum security of $30,000 for individuals and $60,000 for multiple drivers. Currently those minimums are $20,000 and $40,000 respectively and have not changed since 1972 when MAIF was established following legislation that made auto insurance mandatory.
According to new reports, House GOP leaders argue that the higher premiums would cause some MAIF policyholders to drop their coverage altogether and bump up other insurance carriers’ rates. The argument is that this will hurt people at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder; effectively a burdensome tax increase.
As law, average premiums in Baltimore city would increase by 9.3 percent, or $174, to $2,035. In inner Prince George’s County, rates would go up by 8.2 percent, or $89, to $1,178, according to MAIF estimates. Opponents argue that the increases would put automobile insurance out of reach for some policyholders.
On the other hand, the bill’s supporters say that increasing the minimum security is long overdue. According to a spokesman for the Maryland Association for Justice Inc., “It’s to make sure someone who gets injured by a negligent driver is compensated so they can pay their medical bills and receive their lost wages.”
The argument for the bill includes the rational that current minimums were set in 1972 when the average household income was $11,800 and gasoline cost 50 cents a gallon. According to the article, the $20,000 minimum security would be equal to $101,600 in today’s dollars, which means that the value of that coverage has gone down significantly.
Minimum auto insurance limits could rise, Gazette.net, March 26, 2010