As Maryland and Washington, D.C., personal injury attorneys, my firm is dedicated to helping those individuals who have been injured or hurt as a result of another person’s negligent actions. Because we cover automotive, trucking and motorcycle accident cases, we have the skills to represent motorists who are suffering the effects of a bad traffic collision. For those families who have lost a loved one to a senseless roadway accident, we also handle wrongful death lawsuits, as well.
The point we would like to make today is that there are likely numerous motorists one the road throughout Maryland who either do not carry insurance on their vehicle or who have knowingly or unknowingly under-insured themselves. For those who choose to drive uninsured, they risk fines and other penalties for simply not following the law. For those who may unfortunately be injured by an uninsured driver, additional problems exist.
If one is caught up in a traffic accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver, the only way the victim can become compensated is if that person carries uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from his or her automobile insurance company. In such instances, the victim’s insurance company must pay for all of the victim’s loses incurred by that roadway collision. This includes, but is not limited to, vehicle damage as well as medical treatment and even loss of income due to the inability to work.
For personal injury lawyers such as ourselves, we often find that insurance coverage from carriers whose customers are only partially covered is not sufficient to handle all of our client’s medical costs and accident-related losses. In these cases, since the victim is still entitled to additional compensation, it usually has to come from our client’s insurance company based on his or her uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It’s important to note that the amount of coverage must be higher than the other driver’s coverage.
We mentioned earlier that some more unscrupulous drivers may not carry the legal minimum of auto insurance, while others may not know that they are not fully covered for certain accidents. Sadly, it is common for people experiencing financial hardship to cut corners. Others may be aware of conditions that make their premium very expensive, compared to the average Maryland driver. One example is a spouse who chooses not to tell his or her insurance company about the other spouse’s drunken driving conviction, which can truly increase an insurance premium.
Case in point, a question submitted to the Fox News business editor. According to the article, a woman asked if it was illegal to say that she was unmarried to avoid having her insurance spike due to her husband’s driver’s license being revoked by the state of Maryland. Asking if such a declaration on an insurance form could constitute fraud, the answer that came back was a firm, Yes.
This kind of situation can be a major problem for a person who withholds information from their insurance carrier, either knowingly or unknowingly. In many states it’s against the law to misrepresent oneself to an auto insurance company and if found out a person can be penalized by the state.
Here in Maryland, the state’s insurance regulatory agency (Maryland Insurance Administration, or MIA) requires that insurance applications state that anyone who “knowingly and willfully presents false information” on their application can be found guilty of a crime, which could mean fines or jail. Maryland and other states take this approach because even the most minor incidents of insurance fraud can affect all people. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau has estimated that the average American household pays an additional $300 as part of their annual insurance premiums in order to make up for loses to the industry in insurance fraud.
The sad fact is, if the woman mentioned above simply told her insurance company that she didn’t want her husband on the policy, it would be completely legal. Of course, he could never drive her insured vehicle and be covered, but her premiums would then not reflect his revoked license status. In fact, again, Maryland allows members of a household, including spouses, to be excluded from personal auto insurance policies. Known as “named driver exclusion,” this is the easiest way to avoid high premiums while staying within the law.
Is Failing to List Your Husband Insurance Fraud?, FoxBusiness.com, April 23, 2012