So you have “full coverage” you say?

I work with hundreds and hundreds of accident clients each and every year throughout the State of Maryland. As a result, I have hundreds if not thousands of conversations with clients and potential clients about their auto insurance coverage. In fact, I find education on insurance to be so important that I regularly talk to my firm’s non-auto accident clients about their auto insurance policies!

One of the common things I hear on a regular basis is “I have full coverage, my insurance is good.”

This can be right, in some situations, but the statement isn’t really that simple.

In Maryland, full coverage really just means that you have liability, which is required on all policies, and collision coverage. For some companies, they’ll even sell you a limited version of PIP (which is secretly a waiver for you and your immediate family) and call it full coverage.

More importantly to note, that having liability coverage does not mean that you have enough liability coverage. Imagine you’re going to your favorite coffee shop and ordering a full cup of coffee. Unless you’re leaving room for cream and sugar, you’re likely going to get a full cup, but are you getting an 8oz cup, a 16 oz cup, or something even larger? Is your caffeine fix going to last you until the end of the day, or are you going to sputter out around midday because you got the smaller cup?

“Full coverage” insurance kinda works the same way. In Maryland, the State minimum liability coverage is $30,000 per person, $60,000 total per accident. This means that if you cause an accident with injuries that are more expensive than $30,000 to one person, you could get sued and be personally liable for the excess amount. It also means that your uninsured motorist coverage will not be more than $30,000. Uninsured motorist coverage is what kicks in when the at-fault driver of an accident in which you suffer injuries either has no insurance, or a small amount of insurance, you can get extra. If you’re hurt worse than a $30,000 limit on an uninsured motorist claim, the most we can recover for you is probably $30,000.

Take a look at how big the cup is, not just whether or not it’s full, the next time you go shopping for auto insurance.

I suggest a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 for most individuals who do not own their own home. If you are a home owner, you shouldn’t have insurance coverage any less than $250,000/$500,000. Also, make sure you keep your UM/UIM coverage matching your liability limits.

Never EVER waive PIP insurance. Inquire about how much PIP insurance you can buy, or add in med-pay with companies who offer it. You’ll be surprised how inexpensive it is to add or increase these helpful parts to your insurance policy.

As always, I’m happy to take a look at your auto insurance policy and give you my suggestions and tips from an attorney’s perspective. There is never ever a charge for this. Call my office whenever at 410-885-6200.

PIP waiver tricks- Stop paying for nothing

Imagine that I am making you a simple offer, and you must choose one of these options:

A) Give me $1.00 today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident I’ll give you $100. I’ll also give $100 to anyone else in your car. I don’t care who is at fault for the accident, I’ll give you the $100 because you got into an accident.

B) Give me forty cents today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident, too bad.

Which one would you choose? No-brainer, right? Regardless of the amount of money you’re being asked to give me, you’d expect at least something in return for it, right? In fact, as a lawyer, if I charged you money for absolutely no work or no benefit, I’d likely lose my license, or at least be sanctioned by the bar!

The problem is….insurance companies in Maryland are making this deal with drivers in the state ALL THE TIME, and they are getting people to choose option B far too often!

What am I talking about? I’m talking about Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP. I’ve talked about PIP countless times in various ways on my site, and to my clients. If you haven’t had a conversation with me about PIP coverage, you’ve probably never been my client.

The photo linked to this article is a scan of a real PIP waiver premium disclosure. This is a general document that is contained within every single auto insurance policy written in the State of Maryland. It discloses the cost of having PIP insurance, and it also discloses the cost to WAIVE that coverage. Yes, the COST to WAIVE the coverage. As you can see from the disclosure, most insurance companies charge a minimum of 40% of the normal premium to have the coverage in order to waive it. Over the years in this business, I have seen this number as high as 60%.

Yes, paying money to waive a coverage. This is an offer that is made in every auto insurance policy. We’re not talking about $100 here, either! The minimum PIP coverage on a policy that doesn’t carry this waiver is $2,500 per person, per accident. They don’t just give you this money for getting in the accident, but it can be used to pay for medical bills, ambulance bills,  and time missed from work.

Don’t do it. Don’t save a few dollars on your insurance policy, and lose out on important medical payment or wage payment coverage should you ever be in an accident.

Call us any time to talk about your insurance coverage. We’re not insurance agents, and we cannot sell insurance. What we are, is happy to talk to you about your policy, or a quote from a new insurance company, and let you know what we think about the insurance coverage that is being offered, and if anything is missing that you’d want to have if you were involved in an accident.

Our office always takes calls at 410-885-6200 and is happy and available to discuss auto insurance at absolutely no cost to you!

Maryland Auto Accident. Should you Hire a Lawyer?

Accident cases in Maryland can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes you might think it’ll be smooth sailing because the other insurance company has accepted fault for the accident, and now your case is a “slam dunk.” In many cases this is exactly what the insurance company wants you to think. Fault isn’t the only hurdle to jump in these cases. The value of the case is often times more important than fault. Insurance companies thrive on offering substantially less for your injury claim than they’d have to pay if you went to court, or even if you hired a lawyer to settle the claim.

You’ll need to know that ALL of your medical bills are being paid out of the settlement, not just by your health insurance company or your PIP insurance. You’ll also need to know if your health insurance is entitled to reimbursement for what they paid out. Are your lost wages covered in the settlement? After all of this, is there anything left over for you? Our office works hard to make sure that each and every factor of these cases is covered, and that our clients are getting what they’re entitled to under the law, nothing less.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the insurance company is offering you a little bit of money, or if they’re ignoring you entirely, call us today at 410-885-6200 to see if we can help you.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #3

We continue our countdown of the hot spots for Cecil County auto accidents in 2016 with a bit of a stretch. As with some of our previous posts in this spot is actually a stretch of roadway where a couple of different areas/intersections along the road are the real “hot spot”. This one ranks just above #4, which we looked at last week.

3. Rt 40 approaching and past North East, MD

Rt 40 through a few spots in North East, Maryland are some big problem areas. One of them is a direct result of evening/afternoon rush hour traffic. As you head west on Rt 40 from Elkton to North East, traffic will begin to back up between 4:30 and 6pm as far back as Marley Road. This traffic inevitably results in many rear end collisions on an almost daily basis. This wasn’t always the case, and we suspect that it’s largely the result of cell phone/smart phone use by people who are waiting in the line of traffic, seeing that it begins to move, and then doesn’t stop in time for the traffic.

Heading a little further west on Rt 40 will bring us to the intersection with Red Toad Road. This newly renovated, but not redesigned, intersection is a super hot spot for traffic accidents for a variety of reasons. It’s actually a bit surprising to most that this isn’t alone the number one accident spot in our countdown (maybe it’ll rise up the list in 2017, as we’ve already seen double digit accidents here so far this year).

red toad during construction

From an overhead map view there’s nothing strange or unique about this intersection, but if you travel through the area regularly you’ll know that it’s nothing normal going on here. The traffic coming from Red Toad in either direction often have issues negotiating who gets to go first, and in what direction, as most traffic coming from Red Toad in either direction is turning onto Rt 40 in one direction or another.

Additionally, the traffic traveling through Rt 40 in either direction is in no way innocent in causation of these accidents. We’ve found many people get surprised by the light, and attempt to speed up to beat it, or just run it altogether. The problem created here more or less speaks for itself with where this intersection ranks on this year’s list!

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #4

We’re continuing out countdown of the most dangerous accident spots in Cecil County, Maryland for the calendar year 2016. Last week we saw the 5th most dangerous accident intersection(s) as rated by the cases my office handled in the 2016 calendar year.

4. Rt 40 and Rt 213 (Bridge St/Augustine Herman Highway)

rt40rt213elkton

If you were to have asked me what intersections I thought were the most dangerous in 2016 without actually looking at the numbers this one would have been my guess for the top spot. Surprisingly, this intersection ranked number 4 on the overall list for 2016 accidents.

Yes. That mean’s there are 3 intersections in Cecil County Maryland that we handled more accidents from than the interchange between Rt 40 and Rt 213!

This is likely one of the busiest intersections in Cecil County, right in the heart of Elkton. The intersection of 2 major county arteries is also the intersection of many many vehicles, not in a good way!

The lights here are on a timed sequence, but they’re not entirely consistent. If you’ve ever tried to turn left onto 213 from the eastbound Rt 40 lane, you know that left arrow lasts maybe 3 or 4 cars…if everyone is paying attention!

Be careful traveling through this intersection, and don’t try to “speed up” and beat any lights here, otherwise you might become a client of ours, or even worse create a client for our office. Don’t just be careful here, but also be careful in our #3 most dangerous intersection for 2016.

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #5

Our injury law office here in Elkton, Maryland has grown quite a bit before opening up in late 2014. We handle a LOT of accident and injury claims throughout the State, but many of them happen right here in Cecil County or involve citizens of Cecil County. In our normal process of doing year-end reporting from 2016, we noticed some interesting trends when it comes to the location of many of the accident cases we handle. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Accident Locations in Cecil County. You may want to take note of this list, and be extra aware when driving in these areas.

5. Rt 272 near the North East Walmart

272 at Walmart NE

The intersection with the 5th most injury related accidents in Cecil County in 2016 is really 3 different intersections that sit back to back to back in North East, MD. We’ve represented clients in a variety of accidents that have occurred entering and/or exiting the main entrance to the plaza where the Walmart is in North East. Just a bit north of this intersection is the main entrance to Timberbrook community, Rogers Road. We have almost as many accidents in 2016 at this intersection, as there are a few feet down the street.

272atRogers

Just a few hundred feet north of Rogers Road is the intersection at Nazarene Camp road. Not quite as many as Rogers Road or the Walmart, but just as close in location that we felt the need to lump this in. This grouping of 3 intersections is actually only our 5th most “dangerous” for 2016. Number 4 has us representing even more clients….

 

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

The cost/benefit of increasing your PIP/Medpay Coverage in Maryland

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with one of my clients in the Elkton, MD office to discuss her current treatment progression as a result of an ongoing automobile accident case. Among the topics of conversation was her auto insurance policy, and the fact that she had switched insurance companies since her accident. As I experience many insurance companies who attempt to trick their clients into waiving PIP coverage, I wanted to double check her coverages and make sure she didn’t get duped.

Fortunately, her company has an app that allows her to bring up, and even modify coverage on the fly, which let us play around with possible scenarios for insurance coverage…

We quickly learned that she did have PIP coverage….that’s good. Don’t ever waive PIP coverage in Maryland!

The company she is now insured through does not offer more than the basic $2,500 PIP, but they do offer MEDPAY coverage. It works more or less the same way as PIP, except it cannot be used for wages.

The additional coverage was offered in the following increments: $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000. Each of these options would offer money toward medical payments above and beyond the $2,500 in PIP coverage, depending on which was selected.

We first clicked the $500 option, which immediately let us know that her premiums would increase by $2.55 if she were to add the $500 in medpay coverage. That’s not too bad. Doing the math, she’d have to pay this premium for 196 months (16 years) for her to pay more in premium than the benefit she’d gain as a result.

Medpay Premium in MarylandWe then clicked the $5,000 button…while it was loading I told her “i bet you anything it’s far less than 10x the price” and sure enough…to get $5,000 in additional medical payment coverage, it would cost her a whopping $5.88month. That’s double the premium for ten times the coverage! that’s a no brainer… She’d have to maintain this policy for $850 months (70 years) accident free in order to pay more in premium than she’d potentially gain in benefit! This is an absolute no brainer!

 

Policy Limits Offer- Motor Cycle Collision

Some of the most difficult claims to resolve can be Motorcycle accident claims in Maryland. Our firm recently represented a victim of a motorcycle accident, and achieved a policy limits result from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Like with many serious claims where we are able to achieve such a result for our client, our focus now shifts to finding other avenues of recovery for the client, and negotiating outstanding expenses on our client’s behalf.

 

A potentially dangerous time on the roads

By now most of us in Maryland and the surrounding areas have “dug out” of the recent blizzard that hit us late last week. While our roadways are seemingly cleared of ice and snow, that doesn’t necessarily mean the dangers that come from such a storm are gone.

While the roadways are mostly cleared, there still remain large piles of shoveled and plowed snow throughout areas along the side of roadways. Medians that were never touched, as there was to be no traffic there, and other adjacent areas that have remaining snow and ice will now begin to melt as the weather heats up a bit.

This can create unrealized dangers on the roadway, and extra care and caution should be used to avoid accidents!

Much like the time directly following the start of a rain storm can be a dangerous time to be on the road, the times of the day where the ice and snow begin to melt and run onto the roadways can be equally dangerous. The same aspect of water mixing with the oils on the roadway will happen whether that water is new rain, or run off of newly melted snow and ice.

Also, the evening hours as the temperature drops can be even more treacherous, as that water on the roadways can freeze, causing ice incidents.

Take extra care in these days and weeks following the blizzard, or any blizzard for that matter. Give yourself extra commute time, and extra follow distance between you and the vehicle in front, just in case a quick stop is required. The last thing you’ll want is to have your brakes lock up, tires skid across the recently melted water, and cause an avoidable accident!

As always, should the other drivers on the roadway not see this, not heed this advice, and put you in a situation where you’re the victim of such an accident, do not hesitate to contact our office as soon as possible at 410-885-6200. We can help navigate the insurance company nightmare, make sure you’re paid fairly for your injures, and in many cases recover for the diminished re-sale value of your damaged and repaired vehicle.

I love a good client success story….

I’ve spend my entire career as an attorney, and much of my career in the industry prior to becoming an attorney working to educate the community and clients of mine or the firm(s) I worked for about how to improve their automobile insurance in preparation for an eventual accident.

The reality of the situation is that accidents are actually happening more and more frequently, as the threats and risks created by distracted drivers texting, emailing and facebooking on their phones while driving have drastically outweigh the improvements designed to make vehicles safer, including those designed to have cars automatically avoid accidents.

Much of the education that I have provided to my clients and prospective clients can be found in the book I published in 2014 entitled ‘Making the most of your Maryland auto insurance policy‘ which is available on amazon.com or can be downloaded electronically via the web at no cost.

The success story for one of our clients comes from this educational outreach. One of the first clients our firm represented for an automobile accident was driving a vehicle owned and insured by his girlfriend. The owner of the vehicle had waived Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on the policy, but the driver had not waived PIP on any policy he was named on, and was eligible for PIP. I took the opportunity to speak to the owner of the vehicle, even though she was not our client, nor was she involved in the accident herself. One of the major pieces of advice provided to her was to remove that PIP waiver, and increase the PIP coverage as much as she can afford and that her company would offer her.

Apparently she listened to me, and it’s turned out to greatly benefit her, as the advice provided in the book is designed to do. Later on in the year she herself was the victim of an automobile accident. Of course, she called our firm for representation, and as I was working on resolving her claim this morning, I looked through the file and realized that she carried $5,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection coverage, a big change from when she had waived it! In the end, this meant that the vast majority of her hospital, physical therapy, and doctors bills have already been paid. In the end, this means more money in my client’s pocket once the claim resolves! In fact, she will likely put as much as $5,000 more in her pocket than she would have if she had maintained the PIP waiver. That’s a real big deal!

This is the type of success story for my clients that makes me happy that I do what I do, and that I run my practice the way that I do. If you are a client or not, and would like me to take a look at your Maryland auto insurance policy, give me a call at 410-885-6200. I’ll gladly take the time to meet with you in my office, or review over the phone/fax/email and let you know what things I think you can do to improve your policy. No one wants to get into an accident, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it onto any of my clients or even any of my so called “enemies,” but it’s good to know ways you can prepare for the worst that will cost you very little, and in some instances even reduce your premiums. Final note: I don’t sell insurance, so the offer to review your policy is not a sales pitch. Any suggestions I make involving changes to your policy will have to be done through your own insurance agent, or by finding a new agent. So no worries calling for information and having to avoid a hard sell, it’s just not happening!