How to Find Out the Defendant’s Insurance Policy Limits

insurance policy limitIf you have been injured in an accident and you are pursuing a personal injury claim, it is important to know the insurance policy limits of the defendant. The insurance policy limits are the maximum amount that the defendant’s insurance company will pay out for a claim.

When our lawyers get a wrongful death or serious personal injury case, our first concern is insurance coverage.  The fear is that you will prove your claim is worth a certain dollar amount.  But then you cannot collect because there is inadequate insurance coverage.

How do you find out what the insured’s policy is in a Maryland car accident?  In the old days, the only way to get the policy limits was to sue.

This was maddening.  Especially when there were laws in other jurisdictions in that refusing to offer the policy limits could be bad faith.  Insurance adjusters would refuse to tell us saying it violated the privacy of their insured which also made me want to throw a brick through a window.

New Maryland Law to Get Policy Limits

Eventually, this law was modified where the insurance companies would tell you, but you had to jump through a million different hoops to do it.  You also had to have $12,500 (if I recall) in medical bills to trigger the required.

Insurance companies fight stuff all the time reflexively.  Then the legislature comes to its senses and grants the law, anyway.  The insurance companies realize after the law is passed that they actually kind of like the law.  Why?  It saves time for both plaintiffs’ lawyers and insurance companies.  A rare win-win situation you rarely see in personal injury issues.

So the modern version of the law is Section 10-1103 of the Transportation Code, which sets out the requirement for the insured to reveal the policy limits in 2019.

10-1103. Documentation provided to claimants

Application of section

(a) This section does not apply to a claim described under § 10-1104 of this subtitle.

Information provided by claimant

(b) A claimant may obtain the documentation described in § 10-1102 of this subtitle if the claimant provides in writing to the insurer:

(1) The date of the alleged tort;

(2) The name and last known address of the alleged tortfeasor;

(3) A copy of any vehicle accident report, police report, or other official report concerning the alleged tort, if available;

(4) The insurer’s claim number, if available; and

(5) A letter from an attorney admitted to practice law in the State certifying that:

(i) The attorney has made reasonable efforts to investigate the underlying facts of the claim; and

(ii) Based on the attorney’s investigation, the attorney reasonably believes that the claim is not frivolous.

What Is a Policy Limits Offer?

A policy limits offer is when an insurance company offers a settlement that is equal to the maximum liability limit on their policy. For example, if Joe has an insurance policy with a limit of $300,000, an offer to settle a claim against Joe for $300,000 would be a policy limits offer.

How Do Policy Limits Work in a Personal Injury Claim?

Insurance policy limits are the maximum amount that an insurance company will pay out for a particular claim.  An insurer who offers the policy limits really will not pay a single cent more to resolve a claim. 

When someone purchases an insurance policy, they agree to pay a premium in exchange for coverage up to a certain limit in the event of a covered loss. The policy limit is specified in the insurance agreement.  It can vary depending how much coverage the insured bought and the terms of the policy. So if someone has, say, an auto insurance policy with a liability limit of $500,000, and they are at fault in an accident that causes $600,000 in damages, their insurance company will only pay out up to the policy limit of $500,000. The driver is responsible for paying the remaining $100,000 somehow.  In many cases, that driver does not have $100,000 and trying to get the additional money would require you to forgo the $500,000 while you sue the defendant.