The Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF) is a resource for drivers who can't find a car insurance company willing to insure them. This can be because your driving record includes a number of accidents, tickets, or just a lack of driving experience, which translates into higher risks that insurers typically don't want to undertake. The MAIF, however, will find you an insurer so that you can drive legally in MD. Coverage generally costs higher in the MAI program, so you’ll want to work your way to a clean driving record in order to find coverage – at lower rates in Maryland’s regular (voluntary) insurance market.
Note that the MAIF was rebranded in 2015 to Maryland Auto Insurance (MAI), but its still the same program.
What is the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund – (MAIF)?
The state of Maryland founded the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF) in 1973 to cover Maryland drivers who could not obtain the legally required auto insurance coverage that they need from the voluntary market. As of mid-2015, MAIF has re-branded itself to Maryland Auto Insurance (MAI), but the goal remains the same: to make sure drivers on the road are insured. MAI is the mechanism to do that. Maryland Auto Insurance program does not turn down any Maryland motorists, unless their last policy cancellation was due to non-payment of insurance premiums.
The MAI operates as a mutual - it is funded by the premiums received from policyholders and from their investment portfolio, so no one carrier insurers you. A network of over 1,400 agents from existing auto insurance agents are authorized to write policies on behalf of MAI. Although Maryland Auto is not a direct insurance company that sells policies online or over the phone, it has its own claims hotline as well as several physical claims center available for its policyholders.
Maryland Auto Insurance Eligibility
As long as you live in Maryland and have a valid driver’s license, you are eligible to apply to MAI. However, you will also need to show that you have been turned down by at least two auto insurers in the state or that your policy has been cancelled by your insurer because of actions that place you in the high-risk category.
You may NOT be eligible for MAI if you were cancelled by an insurer because you didn’t pay your insurance premium. Once you pay that insurance bill, you may apply to MAI.
Maryland Auto Insurance Coverage
Coverage options and requirements for drivers using MAI are the same as for drivers in the voluntary market. By the Maryland Financial Responsibility Law, the minimum requirement to drive on the road is to carry coverages for Bodily Injury at 30/60 and Property Damage of $15,000, as well as Uninsured Motorists coverages at 30/60/15. You must also carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) of $2,500, with a choice of Full and Limited.Here is an explanation of the Maryland minimum requirements and what they cover.
You can buy higher levels of coverage for all of these, as shown in the table below. Talk with your insurance agent about your financial situation in order to determine the appropriate level of coverage for your situation.
|Mandatory Coverage||Maryland Min. Required Limits||MAI Max. Limits|
|Bodily Injury (BI)||$30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident||$100,000/$300,000|
|Property Damage (PD)||$15,000 per accident||$100,000 per accident|
|Uninsured /Underinsured Motorists BI (UM/UIMBI)||$30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident||As high as your BI coverage limits|
|Uninsured /Underinsured Motorists PD (UM/UIMPD)||$15,000 per accident||As high as your PD coverage limits|
|Personal injury protection (PIP)||$2,500 Full or Limited||No higher limits available|
There are a number of optional coverages that you may choose to buy, much like any other Maryland auto insurance companies. Extra coverage will, of course, result in a higher premium. There are no statutory minimum coverage amounts for these optional coverages. Some of the commonly seen optional coverages that are also available through the MAI include: Physical Damage insurance, Rental Reimbursement, and Towing coverage (or sometimes called Roadside Assistance coverage).
A policy through MAI will generally last for a year. You should receive a notice of renewal from your insurance company at least 45 days before the policy expires. Your policy will usually be renewed unless you have failed to pay your premiums, have had your license revoked, or have experienced accidents or driving violations that change your risk profile in the eyes of your insurer.
MAI Premiums and Payment Plans
Insurance premiums in the usual market are priced based on many different underwriting criteria. The same rules apply for MAI premiums, with one major difference: Maryland Auto does not consider your credit score when determining your premiums. By understanding those factors that affect the price of your premium, you can work to reduce your premiums over time, whether you are still with the MAI or have moved on to other insurers in the voluntary market.
There are three ways to pay for your MAI policy:
Pay in full: pay your year’s worth of coverage up-front, which will also result in a discount.
Interest-free installment plan: only just became available in 2013, this option allows you to pay your premiums over the agreed installment period without interest.
Finance through extended payment plan: loan and sign an agreement with a third-party finance company, and pay the company back over an installment period plus interest.
If you choose the installment plan, be sure to pay your insurance premiums on time. A lapse in payments will be grounds for having your policy cancelled, which might just eliminate your last chance of holding adequate auto insurance in Maryland. And such a lapse is automatically reported to Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration. The MVA will follow up to make sure you have insurance coverage, and there are penalties for driving without insurance in Maryland.
How to Get Insurance through Maryland Automobile Insurance
Any licensed Maryland auto insurance agent can register to become an authorized Maryland Auto agent. You can use the MAI website to find an agent near you, and they will explain your options for coverage through MAI and help you place an application.
For MAI claims, call them at 1-800-492-7120.