Anyone who has been a client of my firm, or who has followed my website, facebook feed, or has read my book on buying insurance in Maryland is well aware of the level to which I am an advocate and educator to my clients regarding their auto insurance. This is especially true with certain coverage types in Maryland that appear to be more and more tricky to purchase in the ever changing insurance buying market.
Also, if you’ve been following closely enough, you’ve become aware of all of the tricky things that certain insurance companies do to try to get Maryland drivers to waive Personal Injury Protection coverage. This includes labeling PIP waivers as “passenger PIP” or “guest medical” or even just calling it “Option A” on their declarations pages. All of these shifty things are a waiver of PIP coverage. Most of these are sold through online policies, without the assistance or guidance of a licensed agent, and are often times buried within unseen “fine print” of an online click-through e-sign process.
When push comes to shove, and a client has waived this coverage, they’re out of luck when it comes to getting bills paid via PIP after an accident. This means smaller settlement checks for our clients, no quick lost wage payments, and outstanding medical bills pending for the entire time the claim is open.
In an effort to make things a little better for consumers, we reached out to our local elected official to have legislation drafted to better protect consumers. HB 906 in the 2019 Maryland legislature will, if passed, do 2 things: 1) It’ll require actual signatures on PIP waivers if someone does choose to waive PIP and 2) it’ll require a new fresh waiver with each policy renewal period. We’re thankful for our Delegate putting in this legislation, and allowing myself and some other interested colleagues to testify on behalf of the legislation in Annapolis.
Regardless of whether or not this bill passes, you need to be aware of your insurance policy, and you need to make sure you’re not waiving this essential coverage. The first and best tip I can give you is to start by using an actual flesh and blood insurance agent. These people are trained to understand the different types of coverage, and part of their job is to educate you on what you might need if you get into an accident.
Second, send me a copy of your insurance deck page. For years I have been offering free insurance policy reviews to my clients, and that’s something that’s not going to change. I’m beyond happy to take a look at your policy and give you my opinion and some tips to improve it. Utilize me as a resource, especially when its free. The tips I give you on your insurance policy today may translate into thousands of dollars in your pocket should you become the unfortunate victim of an accident in the future.
Maryland Attorney Jobeth Bowers is the founder of Bowers Law and a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law