Maryland mandatory car insurance laws, rules, and regulations are set by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The state legislation stipulates that registered vehicles must carry the required published liability limits from an insurer licensed to do business in the state. Each mandatory state has minimum requirements and Maryland’s is $30,000 bodily injury per person, $60,000 for more than one person, and an additional $15,000 for property damage (30/60/15). Higher limits are offered by all companies, although rates will vary.
Transportation network companies that have between 26 and 300 operators have higher limits. These limits are $50,000 bodily injury per person, $100,000 for more than one person, and an additional $25,000 for property damage. Commercial coverage is available from many carriers with much higher available limits. New residents must notify their current carrier to convert to a state-approved policy.
Uninsured motorists coverage and personal injury protection (known as PIP) are also required. PIP provides up to $2,500 of medical and disability costs arising from an accident. Both family and non-family occupants of the vehicle are covered. There is also a “limited” alternative that excludes benefits to your family if they have reached age 16. However, the cost-savings is not significant. It should only be considered if you have private or group comprehensive healthcare benefits.
We help you understand different regulations in the state, and the impact any changes may have on your driving or the cost of your auto insurance. It’s important to “stay legal,” and take advantage of any new laws or legislation that could help you save money. If you finance or lease a vehicle, requirements are often different. For example, leased vehicles typically require higher liability limits and more restrictive collision and comprehensive deductible options than a financed vehicle.
We also help you provide an FR-19 (Insurance Certification) which is required when you register or renew a vehicle. It’s important not to lose your certificate because only the original is considered valid. A copy will not be accepted if you are required to show proof. The FR-19 is valid for 30 days and must be provided by a licensed carrier and/or an authorized agent. The form is only used in several states (also Delaware), and serves a different purpose than an SR-22 Bond form.
Your insurance must be certified and a written statement is required to verify that you will not drive without the proper coverage. This certification is the FR-19 and can be obtained directly by your insurer or a qualified broker. The form does not cost the driver any money and the original should be faxed or filed electronically with the MVA. It’s always a good idea to keep a copy at home or at your office. Also, updating the form every few years should be considered.
Driving without the required insurance is not only illegal but it could be very time-consuming and expensive. About 12% of all Maryland drivers do not have coverage on their vehicle. For example, if your insurance lapses for three months, your fine will be $570. Even a one-month lapse will cost $150, with an additional $7 charge for each additional day. The maximum per vehicle is capped at $2,500. There will be an additional cost for reinstating your car registration and to obtain new license plates. Although we can assist, it may be very time-consuming for you.
If you drive while the registration is suspended, the car may be impounded, and additional fines and penalties can be imposed. The Central Collections Unit will respond if prior notification requests are ignored. A 17% collection fee can be added to the outstanding fines. If a vehicle has been sold, your auto carrier can provide a letter that gives the date of loss and the date the vehicle was returned to the owner. Note: Geico, Allstate, USAA, and State Farm insure the most vehicles in the state.
Additional penalties can include paying a $25 restoration fee, not being able to renew a suspended registration, having your license plates confiscated, and paying a $1,000 penalty and risking jail time if false proof of coverage is provided. If insurance lapse notifications are ignored, the Central Collections Unit (CCU) can collect an additional 17% of all outstanding fines.
Hopefully, you won’t have any outstanding unpaid tickets, because they will also have to be paid in full. The three convenient payment options are: 1. Mail your payment (money order or check) to MVA (Insurance Compliance), PO Box 2278, Glen Burnie, MD. 21060. 2. Pay in person with money order, cash, check, or credit card. 3. Pay by phone through an interactive system that is available 24/7. Uninsured motorists fees can be paid with a credit card.
The moral of the story? Don’t go anywhere in your vehicle unless it is insured. Once you are on the road again, you can compare auto insurance rates in Maryland on our website. Checking prices every few years ensures you are not overpaying for your coverage. Bundling auto and home policies provides a discount and possible substantial savings.
If you’re a potential new driver…Congratulations! Your first step is to obtain a Maryland learner’s permit. You must be at least 15 3/4 and pass a vision exam and a written test by correctly answering at least 17 of the 20 questions. There are also several forms of identification required. Proof of both residency and identity are required. You should also take the driving test before your learner’s permit ends. If you wait too long, you’ll have to start the process over again which will be costly and time-consuming.
Once you are licensed, of course, you must purchase your auto insurance with at least the minimum liability limits earlier discussed. You can also be added to an existing policy if the car you will be driving is owned by someone else (assuming a parent). Insurance ID cards should always be kept with you while you are driving. Keeping copies in your wallet/purse and glove compartment will satisfy just about all situations. NOTE: The National Driver Registry will be contacted, to ensure a current license is not suspended or revoked.
If you lose your ID card or your driver’s license, they should be promptly replaced. You can often go to a local license and title bureau to have a duplicate made. You also can request a copy from the BMV although the process may take longer than visiting the local bureau.
If you are a new resident of the state, you have up to 60 days to obtain a valid license (30 days for a commercial license). When you apply for a new license at a BMV location, there are a number of items you will need including identification and proof of residency. It’s possible that a vision exam may be required. Older seniors may have additional criteria to meet.
You should also review your entire auto insurance policy with a local broker. Rates will be different in Maryland and you may want to adjust some of your coverage, including deductibles. Available discounts will differ from your old policy, so you may qualify for some new reductions. Your driving distance to your employer my also have changed, resulting in a different premium.
Rookie Driver Program
“Graduated Licensing” is used to give young persons more experience at early ages. There are now three levels of training. They are “Learners Permit,” “Provisional License” and “Full License.”
You can obtain a permit at 15 years and 9 months. You must verify your identity and show proof of school attendance. Two tests are required (vision and general knowledge) before the permit is approved. There is an available manual with sample tests and training that can help you prepare. Driver safety facts, highway signs, and traffic laws are three of the most important topics discussed in the manual. A basic understanding of these topics is required to pass the exam.
The provisional license requires an age of at least 16 years and 6 months. An approved driver’s education and training course must be taken and completed and 60 hours of supervised hours on the road must be documented. Driving between midnight and 5 am is prohibited, unless accompanied by someone who is at least 21 years old.
There are also restrictions that require all passengers be at least 18 or over. And as expected, any moving violation will result in additional training, suspension of license, or both. This will likely cause a large increase in your auto insurance premium. You must be 18 to get your full license and if you have not reached age 21, there can be no violations on your record.If you meet all of the necessary requirements, your provisional classification will be upgraded to the full classification.
New Driver Guide
A “Rookie Driver” guide is also furnished to help prepare both parent and child. Lessons (with checklists) are provided to help cover all situations. Guides are available free and should always be utilized. Several covered topics include:
Vehicle Entry Check – Before getting into the vehicle, check for broken glass, physical body damage, fluid leaks, and conditions and air pressure of tires.
Dashboard controls – Understand where and what controls are, including headlights, turn signals, all brakes, steering wheel, door locks, mirror adjustments, heating/AC, hazard light, windshield wipers, horn, and seat adjustments.
Additional Topics – Entering traffic from different directions, turning at intersections, understanding lane positioning, backing up, parallel parking, entering traffic or merge lanes from shared left lanes, driving through a roundabout, driving when bicycles are in the same lane, passing vehicles, operating your vehicle in wet, icy, or snowy conditions, and passing other vehicles.
License Plate Options
If you wish to add a little scenery to your license plate, you have two options. An Agricultural Plate or a view of the Chesapeake Bay will convert your drab plate to a more appealing option. These plates have an initial $20 fee plus an annual $5 fee. The Chesapeake Bay plate has a yellowish-orange background while the Treasure plate features a blue background. If you lose existing plates, you can order a replacement for a $20 fee.
So far, no options are available for residents that are wishing for a Baltimore Ravens or Orioles plate. Although they would undoubtedly be very popular, most states do not have plates featuring local professional sports teams. The same applies to all of the colleges and universities in the state. We anticipate that these may become options within the next 10 years so stay patient!
The following license options are available:
Agricultural or Chesapeake Bay – An initial fee is charged along with an annual fee. Proceeds from the annual fee benefit the Chesapeake Bay Trust and/or the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. The following vehicle Classes are eligible: A, M, EFT, EPO, and G.
Amateur Radio Operator – A copy of your FCC Amateur Radio Operator’s License is required. Passenger cars, trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less, and multi-purpose vehicles are eligible.
Combat-Related – Only available to veterans or active members of the military that have won awards or honors. Documents needed may include military discharge papers, Purple Heart certificate, or written documentation from the National Personal Records Center. Vehicle Classes eligible are A, M, and EPO.
Disabled – Passenger and motorcycle plates may be ordered. Placards, which are easily movable, are available for vehicles. If you have a temporary disability that will last for three weeks (or more), an application may be submitted with requested documentation. A “disability certification of information” section of the application will have to be completed by your physician. The universal wheelchair symbol is used to identify disabled persons.
Gold Star – Surviving spouses, siblings, parents, or children of fallen members of the Armed Services may apply for this plate. Passenger cars, multi-purpose vehicles, motorcycles, and trucks weighing less than 10,000 pounds are eligible.
Military – Dozens of versions are available, including Afghanistan Campaign, Air Force, Airman’s Medal, Asiatic Pacific, Coast Guard, Combat Action, Congressional Medal Of Honor, Gold Lifesaving, Honorably Discharged Veteran, Iraq Campaign, Korean Service, Kosovo Campaign, Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Silver Star, United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and World War II Veteran.
Organizations – More than 500 organizations offer personalized license options. Logo and non-logo are available. Several available options are ABATE, Allegheny Community College, Baltimore City Fire Department, Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association, Friends Of The Salisbury Zoo, Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association, Mount St. Mary’s University, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Seneca Valley High School, UMBC Alumni Association, and Washington Nationals.
Personalized – Let your imagination take over! Vanity plates are very popular, with up to seven characters available. Offensive or duplicate requests will be declined. Typically, the process of approval takes about 4-7 weeks.
Driving Record Abstract
Do you need a copy of your driving record? You can order your official records for $12, as long as you pay online or by electronic check. Of course, identification will be needed. If you prefer to order a copy via US mail, you can pay by personal check, as long as your driver’s license number and phone number is on the check. Your three-year driving record can be requested, or a complete record of all information in the MVA data base.
The original issue date of the license, registration record, and certified copy of title can also be ordered. You may also use your phone to show your car insurance ID card. Mobile apps are also provided by many carriers.
An “MVA Request For Record” form can be downloaded, printed, and mailed for quick service. If a business needs multiple records, a different form is needed (DL-015). If you move to another state, you can still order your abstract. Also available, is an expungement request form (AJ-058), which will remove a conviction from your driving record after three years. However, certain conditions must be met, including no other moving violations during the last three years, no license suspensions, and no prior convictions of major violations, such as DUI or hit and run.
Vehicle emissions testing in Maryland is mandatory and helps clean the state’s air and water. An OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) test is required for vehicles that were manufactured in 1996 or any later year. This applies to standard cars and light trucks. The actual procedure to verify emissions is very quick and quite accurate. Pollutants can be easily detected with on-board diagnostic testing. The tool connects to the on-board diagnostic computer to check for potential emission issues. If you have a heavier vehicle manufactured after 2007, the same test would apply.
The procedure creates a direct connection with the vehicle on-board computer which is usually located underneath the dashboard. Failing components and dashboard warning lights are obvious signs of problems. NOTE: If your car or truck had a new battery installed within the last week, wait about a week so that a false emissions reading is not given. Also. Hybrid vehicles must be scheduled for testing within 36 months of the model year.
A gas cap and tailpipe examination are also required for vehicle model years 1977 and newer. This includes cars, light-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks. Any holes in the exhaust system (or leaks) will cause a failure in the test. It’s also important to have the proper gas cap, and to ensure the seal is snug. Otherwise, it will not pass. And of course, the catalytic converter must be working properly. A missing or loose gas cap will also result in a failed test.
The MVA sends written notification about two months before the scheduled test date. You can schedule the test at any time, once the notice is received. Testing facilities are conveniently located throughout the state. After paying the $14 fee, once a successful test is completed, a certificate will be issued indicating the results of the test. Following a failed test, the cost of a second test is free.
Don’t text while you drive! But you know that already. There are many other tasks you should also avoid, such as eating or drinking, taking on your cellphone or Smartphone, reading a map, looking at passengers, or adjusting your radio settings. When your eyes are off the road, often you are endangering yourself, your passengers, other drivers, and innocent pedestrians. And of course, it is illegal to use a hand-held phone or electronic device while operating a vehicle in Maryland.
A first-time conviction can result in a maximum fine of $83. However, the second conviction can increase the fine to $140, and the third conviction can increase the amount to $160. If an accident occurs, points can be added to your driver’s license. Simply writing or reading a text message while driving is also illegal, and the resulting fine is $70. If death or serious injury occurs, up to a $5,000 fine can be imposed and a three-year prison sentence.
The four most common types of distractions are visual, cognitive, manual, and auditory. Although not all distractions are illegal, they can cause an increased chance of having an at-fault accident. Most major Metropolitan areas (Baltimore and Washington D.C.) have the highest concentration of distracted driver crashes. The times of the day with the most reported crashes are early evening and late afternoon. Fridays have the highest frequency of incidents while Sundays have the lowest. Males typically text more than females and account for 80% of the fatalities.
Jakes Law mandates that a driver that caused serious death or injury while texting or speaking on a handheld cell phone can be convicted with a resulting prison sentence of 36 months and a fine of $5,000. The legislation became effective four years ago, and was named after five year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a car accident in Baltimore in 2011. The driver was talking on the phone at the time of the accident, and was previously texting. The driver served no jail time and only received a $1,000 fine.
Senate Bill 743
This legislation is the first state law that requires peer-to-peer car rental companies to adhere to state insurance, tax, and safety regulations and laws. Although not endorsed by all interested parties, the law offers the needed regulation that benefits consumers. An 8% sales tax applies to p2p carsharing companies, although it increased to 11.5% in 2020. When conducting business at an airport, the usual airport fees will also be imposed, and required insurance licenses must be maintained. Also, the national safety recall law must apply to any vehicles operating in Maryland.
Parity among peer-to-peer carsharing companies is the ultimate goal, so that all parties comply with the same regulations, tax laws, and guidelines. Companies that operate at airports are subject to separate contracts and any applicable airport fees. National safety recall laws must also be followed, including the grounding of vehicles.
Auto insurance laws in Maryland are designed to keep drivers and passengers safe and protect victims in accidents. Minimum liability limits are established for all registered vehicles. By knowing the regulations, you’ll save money on your insurance.
Undocumented immigrants can now register vehicles, purchase auto insurance coverage and drive on state highways. Of course, the required written and driving tests must be taken and passed. Thus, immigration status will no longer be a reason to deny driving privileges and minimum safety standards for all persons will have to be met.
In a recent comprehensive study of Maryland car insurance rates (research provided by NWallet), the cities with the lowest prices include: Fairplay, Williamsport, Hagerstown, Smithburg, Rocky Ridge, Hancock, Maugansville and Cascade. Prices, however, will vary, depending on age of persons that are listed on policy, the number of reported violations and accidents, and type of vehicles that are covered.
After facing mounting criticism and concern from policyholders and the Insurance Administration, State farm will no longer raise premiums for non at-fault accidents and utilizing the emergency road and hazard service on most policies. Also, many previous rate increases will either be rescinded, or a refund will be sent to effected policyholders.
An unusually-high number of consumer complaints related to rate increases led to the investigation. While it is legal to increase premiums for these types of situations, most other carriers refrain from increasing prices. Also, the correspondence sent by State Farm to customers was determined to be confusing, with some details missing.