Driving without auto insurance in Maryland is against the law. The penalties for being uninsured can be severe, including fines, suspension of your license and registration, and even jail time. This article explains Maryland’s insurance requirements, consequences of driving uninsured, and how to get affordable coverage.
Maryland Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
Maryland is considered an “insurance choice no-fault” state. This means drivers must carry a minimum level of liability coverage, but can choose to waive certain no-fault benefits.
The minimum mandatory insurance amounts are:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $30,000 per person injured, $60,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability: $15,000 per accident
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $2,500 per person, $5,000 per accident
Liability insurance covers damage and injuries you cause to others. PIP pays medical expenses for you and your passengers.
Maryland also requires uninsured motorist coverage equal to your liability limits. This protects you if an at-fault driver has no insurance.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Maryland
Violating Maryland’s insurance requirements brings severe consequences:
Fines up to $1,000 for a first offense, and up to $2,500 for subsequent violations
License suspension for up to one year. Reinstatement fees of $150 for the first occurrence, $250 for the second, and $750 for additional suspensions.
Registration suspension and requirement to turn in license plates, at a cost of $175 to reinstate registration.
Points on your driving record leading to higher insurance rates. Up to 8 points for an uninsured accident resulting in death.
Jail time up to one year as a criminal misdemeanor for repeat violations.
These penalties apply whether or not you are involved in an accident. Simply being caught driving without insurance triggers fines and suspensions.
How Maryland Catches Uninsured Drivers
Maryland uses several methods to identify and penalize uninsured motorists:
Random traffic stops – Police can ask for proof of insurance during any traffic stop. Failing to provide it leads to citations and fines.
Accident reports – Insurers share claim data, allowing police to check whether drivers carried insurance.
License plate scanners – Law enforcement uses automated license plate readers to quickly identify uninsured vehicles.
Driver’s license renewal – Applicants must provide policy information or pay an uninsured motorist penalty fee.
Because of this enforcement, it’s nearly impossible to drive without insurance in Maryland without eventually getting caught. The consequences make trying to save money by going bare incredibly costly.
Why Do Some Drivers Skip Auto Insurance in Maryland?
While ignoring state insurance laws is illegal and unwise, here are some reasons drivers take the risk:
They can’t afford coverage – Minimum liability policies average around $900 annually in Maryland, which is unaffordable for lower income residents.
Driving is only occasional – Younger drivers may drive parents’ cars infrequently and incorrectly assume they’re insured during those times. Part-time drivers also often skip insurance.
Planning to purchase but procrastinating – New residents, young drivers, or those switching policies sometimes delay getting new insurance activated right away.
Lack of understanding of penalties – Some drivers underestimate the strict enforcement and harsh penalties for driving uninsured.
But none of these reasons absolve drivers from complying with compulsory insurance laws. Uninsured drivers in Maryland will get caught and punished sooner than later.
Claiming Damages from Uninsured Drivers
If you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, you can make a claim through your own policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. This provision protects you when the at-fault driver violates insurance laws.
You must file a police report documenting the other driver lacked valid insurance. Your insurer will investigate and verify no policy was active.
The downside is you must pay your collision deductible upfront, which won’t be reimbursed. And the at-fault driver has no insurance to pay for vehicle repairs or injuries above your coverage limits.
That’s why carrying ample uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is so important in Maryland. Otherwise you take on significant costs even when the accident wasn’t your fault.
How to Get Low Cost Auto Insurance in Maryland
While insurance is mandatory, there are ways to get cheaper rates in Maryland:
Shop insurers – Compare quotes from national companies like Geico, Allstate and Progressive and local insurers like Erie and Maryland Auto.
Raise deductibles – Increasing deductibles lowers premiums but you pay more out of pocket for claims.
Limit coverage – Drop extras like rental reimbursement or roadside assistance to cut costs. But don’t skimp on liability or collision coverage.
Ask about discounts – Take defensive driving courses, bundle policies, use pay-per-mile insurance, and inquire about all other savings.
Maintain good credit – Maryland allows credit-based scoring, so a high score earns a lower rate.
Check eligibility for state programs – Those receiving government benefits may qualify for Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund reduced premiums.
Fines and penalties for uninsured driving often exceed $1,500 for a first offense – more than an entire year of minimum coverage. So don’t take the risk of driving without insurance. Comparison shop to find the most affordable policy to fit your budget.
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