Did I Waive PIP?

Back in the old days from 1972 to 1989, insurance companies had to provide PIP insurance with Maryland car insurance policies that provided some measure of coverage for lost wages and medical bills after a car accident regardless of fault. Then the car insurance companies wore down the Maryland legislature and PIP was no longer a requirement. The grand compromise was that car insurance companies would “offer” PIP, but that the insured could waive PIP coverage.

Please note, I’m making all of this up. I was in college at the time and I’m sure even people who were there don’t remember exactly how it happened. But I will bet you it happened just like that.

Anyway, to waive PIP in Maryland, the waiver must be both affirmative and written (although electronic signatures count as “written” in 2010). So a Maryland car insurance company must have a waiver to deny coverage after a car accident. If it has the waiver, it wins. If it does not, it loses.

Here is what is tricky. There is no indication as to whether the waiver applies to car insurance policies that automatically renew every year. On one hand, a renewal is just a continuation of the old policy. On the other hand, the insurance company is required to get a PIP waiver when it “sells” the insurance. Arguably, it is “selling” insurance each time it issues a new policy. Does the existing PIP waiver carry over with each automatic renewal or do you have to sign a new waiver for each renewal period?

You would think this would be a well-settled area of Maryland law since this has been the law for 21 years. The problem is that Maryland accident lawyers rarely file PIP claims because most lawyers process PIP claims at no charge and the amount at issue does not warrant the lengthy trip to the Maryland Court of Appeals.