Effective July 1, 2018, Maryland insurance companies will begin to offer Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage (“EUIM”) to individuals with private passenger automobile insurance policies, including motorcyclists. Commonly referred to as “stacking”, this new coverage will allow you to combine, or “stack”, your underinsured motorist coverage (UM) with the policy limits of the at-fault driver, ultimately increasing the amount of money to which you may be entitled, following an auto accident.
For instance, it is June 19, 2018, and you are involved in an auto accident on your way to the grocery store. At present, the existing law provides that your UM coverage only pays for the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your UM coverage. Therefore, if the at-fault driver carried a $30,000 policy, and you had purchased $100,000 of UM coverage, the most you could recover following this accident is $100,000 ($30,000 from the at-fault driver’s policy and $70,000 from your own UM coverage). However, once the EUIM law goes into effect, you will be able to stack your UM policy with the at-fault driver’s policy. Meaning, if your accident were to occur after July 1, 2018, and after you made the election for EUIM, the most you could recover following this accident in this scenario is $130,000 ($30,000 from the at-fault driver’s policy, stacked on top of the $100,000 from your own EUIM coverage).
Why is it necessary for you to make the election for EUIM with your auto insurance carrier? Currently, the minimum required liability coverage for an insured vehicle in Maryland is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. For example, under the current law, if you were involved in a serious auto accident and your medical bills were $110,000, you would be personally responsible for $10,000 of those bills. Even more, because all of the money went towards repaying your medical bills, you wouldn’t receive anything for your pain and suffering. This new law, however, will provide extra coverage for injured people when they are involved in accidents with individuals that either have: no insurance; the minimum insurance coverage; or coverage that was less than the coverage you obtained through your own policy.
It is critically important to note that, this coverage is not automatic. Accordingly, in order to obtain EUIM, you must elect so, in writing to your auto insurance carrier, on a specific form. More specifically, the new law requires that optional EUIM be offered to consumers “at the time of purchase of a private passenger motion vehicle liability insurance policy.” Md. Code § 19-509.1(c). For this reason, it is extremely important that when you renew or obtain a new auto insurance policy, that you evaluate how such additional coverage could benefit you if you or a loved one were involved in an auto accident, when deciding whether to select EUIM coverage. For more information or questions regarding auto injuries and/or the new Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage, please call Adam P. Frank at the Yost Legal Group.