Featured Expert
Cathy Chase, JD
Cathy Chase, JD Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety View bio

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MoneyGeek Staff

With the ocean on one side and the Appalachian wilderness on the other, Maryland is a diverse state. Although it borders the high-risk driving city of Washington, D.C., Maryland is one of the safer states to drive in, but residents will need car insurance. Read on to find out what the state requires for car insurance and road safety.

Maryland Vehicle Insurance Requirements

Summary

Maryland takes safe driving seriously, and it has paid off. It is one of the 10 safest states to drive in, and fatality rates continue to drop. It’s also a state where the great majority of drivers have insurance, which is good news for everyone on wheels.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Maryland?

All drivers in Maryland need insurance if they have a car. The state’s Motor Vehicle Administration uses capital letter for emphasis on its website: “All Maryland vehicles MUST be insured at ALL times by a vehicle company licensed in Maryland.” In other words, you can’t cancel insurance on a car just because you aren’t driving it.

Proof of Insurance

You can prove your coverage with a paper insurance card or an electronic card on a smartphone. You will need it if:

  • You are ever in a collision and need to exchange insurance information with another driver
  • A law enforcement officer asks to see it

For purposes of registering or verifying insurance, the Maryland MVA requires a specific form that is sent by the insurer to the motor vehicle department.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Maryland

Insurance in Maryland has to meet at least these minimum requirements:

  • Liability insurance of $30,000/$60,000 for injury to one person/multiple people
  • $15,000 liability insurance for property damage
  • Uninsured motorist coverage of $30,000/60,000 for injury to one person/multiple people and property damage coverage of $15,000
  • $2,500 in personal injury protection (PIP), which pays out regardless of which driver is at fault

High-Risk Insurance Program

Maryland Auto Insurance is an independent state agency charged with providing insurance to people who have had trouble keeping traditional coverage. This includes high-risk drivers and people who have trouble making payments on regular plans. If you feel like you can’t obtain insurance but still need to drive, check them out at mymarylandauto.com.

Alternatives to Insurance

Maryland does not allow alternatives to liability insurance for most drivers. Drivers with more than 25 cars in their name, however, can self-insure.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Car Insurance in Maryland?

If you cancel your insurance without first returning your license plates to the Maryland Vehicle Administration, you will receive a notification from the department. If you are insured by a new company, you can send in a Maryland Insurance Certificate. If not, you’ll face these penalties:

  • You’ll be fined $150 for the first 30 days.
  • You’ll be fined $7 for each additional day without insurance, up to $2,500 per vehicle per year.
  • Your registration will be suspended, prohibiting you from driving.
  • If you continue to ignore notification from the MVA, you will be sent to collections, at which point you will incur a 17 percent collection fee and have their income tax return taken.

To get their registration back, such drivers will have to pay their insurance fine, a $25 fee to restore their registration and, of course, prove they have purchased insurance.

The last part can only be done by having their insurance company send a Maryland Vehicle Insurance Certification directly to the MVA.

How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need in Maryland?

Your needs depend on the value of your vehicle and your overall assets, but many experts recommend buying coverage with $100,000/$300,000 limits. Consider the guide to rates, and you might be surprised by how little you have to pay for the extra protection. If you shop around, you may find that extra coverage at one company costs about as much as minimal coverage at another company.

What Percentage of Drivers in
Maryland Lack Vehicle Insurance?
12.2% National Average: 12.6 %

Second, you should consider purchasing some optional policies, such as collision and comprehensive coverage. This is coverage that protects your car, not someone else’s. However, you might want to skip them if your car isn’t worth much and it would be more expensive to protect your car than simply replace it.

For more on common types of vehicle insurance, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in Maryland

Insurance Administration points out that drivers are never more likely to be involved in a crash than they are in their first two years on the road. A combination of inexperience and distractions can lead to collisions, which is why the state enforces graduated driver licensing to help protect teens while they are s

Teens and/or their parents should expect to pay higher premiums. To keep premiums as low as possible — and teens safe — teens should drive cars that cost less to repair and/or have safety features such as anti-lock brakes. Good grades may also help lower premiums, as most companies offer good student discounts.

Every car needs to be insured, and teen drivers in the learner’s permit stage are typically automatically covered as long as they are in their parent’s car with a licensed driver.

How a Teen Affects Your Insurance in MD

Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:

$2,207 increase This is a difference of 120%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th – 75th Percentile Median
Speeding Toward a Premium Hike

Average annual premium increase if your teen receives a speeding ticket while driving 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit:

Male teen

$577

Speedometer
Female teen

$367

Discounts for Maryland’s Teen Drivers

Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:

$350 saved

Compare Quotes from Maryland Auto Insurers

Policy costs vary from provider to provider, so shop around. Here are the annual average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Maryland:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
GEICO $1,142 $3,099 $10,747
Erie $1,859 $3,760 $9,346
Nationwide $2,181 $3,828 $8,868
State Farm $2,154 $4,608 $13,246
Allstate $2,258 $5,089 $10,334

Maryland Premiums: Mustang vs. Minivan

The make and model of car you choose for your teen will have a powerful impact on your car insurance premiums.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$5,016

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$3,714

Annual benefit of minivans:

$1,302 saved This is 26% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th – 75th Percentile Median

College Students in Maryland

College students coming from another state to Maryland for school are eligible for a nonresident permit, which allows them to drive a vehicle registered in Maryland without switching over their registration. The permit is good for six to 12 months and is renewable. Students can download the application form and get more information here. On the other hand, students who maintain their Maryland residency but move out of the state for college may be able to keep their car registered and insured in Maryland. Before going off to college, students or their families must talk to their insurance agent to make sure their insurance is in place.

High School Drivers vs. College Students in Maryland

Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver

$675 decrease This is a decrease of 16%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Compare Annual Rates for Maryland Insurers

Each year, review your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Here are the average premiums, for example, for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Maryland.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
GEICO $634 $1,607 $7,162
State Farm $1,319 $2,938 $8,652
Erie $1,720 $3,291 $6,549
Nationwide $1,926 $3,624 $7,948
Allstate $2,000 $4,352 $8,133

Distance Discount: Savings for Maryland College Drivers

You may see a slight decrease in your car insurance premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $3,984 at home
  • $3,338 at school
  • $646 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $3,206 at home
  • $2,745 at school
  • $461 in savings

Will Your Car Choice Affect Your Premium in Maryland?

Our data shows that if your college student drives a minivan rather than a sports car, you'll save on your yearly premium.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$3,895

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$2,894

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,001 saved This is 26% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in Maryland

Whether you’re on active duty or a military veteran, you can take advantage of discounts on auto insurance in Maryland, where insurance companies offer savings in appreciation for your service. Discounts are usually available to the nearly 29,000 active-duty military members as well as veterans with a clean driving record. Because premiums can vary widely among carriers, compare price quotes from several companies and consider how much coverage you really need, based on your driving habits and value of the vehicle, before buying a policy. It’s also a good idea to calculate your net worth to determine how much coverage you might need if at fault in an accident.

There’s no need to register a vehicle in Maryland if you’re stationed here temporarily, although the car or truck must be legally registered in your home state while in use on Maryland roads. State law lets you wait up to a year after establishing permanent residency before you are required to register.

Maryland Service Members:
How the Vehicle You Buy Affects Your Premium

Perhaps because insurers have linked sports cars with speeding, a newer model sports car will drive up your premium more than an older model SUV or minivan.

Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age-Based Savings for Maryland
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$1,263
Male (25 yrs)$1,488
Male (50 yrs)$1,166
$322 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,395
Female (50 yrs)$1,147
$248 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to Maryland Military Personnel

When you're looking for the best auto premiums, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Maryland.

Premium Comparison for a Military Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Seniors in Maryland

Maryland doesn’t explicitly require its car insurance companies to give discounts to older drivers, but AARP indicates that they do anyway after the completion of a good driver course.

Undocumented Workers in Maryland

Since 2013, undocumented immigrants have been able to get a temporary license in Maryland if they have lived there for at least a year and can show either a valid passport or an ID from their consulate. At the federal level, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they turned 16 can also get licenses under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, provided they are students or have graduated high school, haven’t committed a crime and meet the residency requirements set out in the program. Having a driver’s license is a prerequisite for car insurance, so the next step is to register the vehicle and get it insured.

Ridesharing Insurance in Maryland: Are You Covered?

Maryland is one of 29 states to regulate transportation network companies, also known as ridesharing companies.

If you’re a ridesharing driver:

Be aware that under Maryland law, drivers for TNCs such as Uber or Lyft will need $1 million in coverage for bodily injury and property damage when actually giving a ride. But this coverage may not protect them when they’re on their way to pick up a passenger. Take a careful look at where your personal policy ends and any TNC-sponsored coverage begins, as well as in what circumstances you might be at risk. You can do this by talking with an insurance agent.

Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Maryland

No one wants to get in an accident, but if it happens, you’ll need to follow a few steps before they get their car back on the road:

  • Call the police if there is an injury, one of the drivers is drunk, a driver is unlicensed and/or tries to leave the scene or there is damage to public property. In all other cases, just move your car off the road and deal with it yourself.
  • Exchange contact and insurance details with other drivers using the Collision Information Exchange Form.
  • Call your insurance company and start the claims process. Even if another driver was at fault and a claim is ultimately filed with that driver’s company, you can use the personal injury protection coverage under your policy for minor injuries.

For specifics as to what might happen after a claim is filed, consult the Maryland Insurance Administration’s guide for consumers.

Best and Worst States for Drivers: How Does Maryland Rank?

Maryland is in the top 10 states for traffic safety, as determined by traffic fatalities per mile traveled. Maryland has recorded declines in fatality rates in each decade since 1975. Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that Maryland adults use seat belts at significantly higher rates than the U.S. public as a whole. The state also has consistently lower rates of alcohol-related fatalities per mile driven than the U.S. average.

Maryland Driver Safety Ranking

10th in the U.S.
About Our Data

The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.

How did we create the safety rankings?

We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).

Driver Safety Profile Number of Fatalities Fatality Rate

The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.

Ranking
(National)

Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.

Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities 140 2.46 7th
Speeding-Related Fatalities 148 2.61 15th
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 108 1.91 9th
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 5 0.09 10th
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 199 3.51 9th
Pedestrian Fatalities 108 1.82 42nd
Bicyclist Fatalities 6 0.10 15th
Total Vehicle Fatalities 465 8.20 7th

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Maryland: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

The state of Maryland has been proactive in passing legislation to keep drivers safe. In 1992, the state passed a universal helmet law. In 2013, it expanded its seat belt law to cover backseat passengers. In 2013, the state completely prohibited holding a phone while driving.

Still, Catherine Chase, vice president for governmental affairs for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, says more can be done. “In 2014, 442 people were killed. That’s a lot of preventable deaths on the highway, impacting families, friends, communities,” she says. “And there are laws that we know that have been proven by research and experience to prevent these deaths, so there’s no reason why these laws shouldn’t be enacted.”

Chase encourages Maryland, for example, to pass a proposed bill that would let police officers pull over a driver simply because someone is the car was spotted without a seat belt.

Check below for a rundown of some of Maryland’s most important driving safety laws.

Safe Driving Laws – Maryland

  Requirement State Law Details
Mandatory seatbelts All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts, but they cannot get pulled over purely for an unbuckled backseat passenger
Child passenger safety Passengers under 8 must wear child restraints
Driving under the influence (DUI) Two charges can apply in Maryland — a DWI for anyone with a BAC of 0.07 or higher and a DUI for anyone with a 0.08 or higher. No mandatory jail time, but you can receive up to a year in jail for the first DUI and fines. If your license is suspended, you’re required to undergo an alcohol treatment program. Penalties increase for multiple convictions.
Ignition interlock after DUI Drivers convicted with a BAC over 0.15 must have interlocks installed
Talking on cell or texting while driving Using a handheld phone or texting is prohibited, and drivers can be pulled over if spotted on the phone
Protections for young drivers During the first five months, novice drivers are not allowed any passengers; for the first year and a half, they may not drive unsupervised from midnight to 5 a.m
Motorcycle helmet law All motorcyclists must wear helmets
Bicycle helmet law Partial Cyclists under 16 must wear helmets

Sources: Governors Highway Safety Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Insurance Resources for Maryland Residents

A Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance

Insurance can be confusing. This easy-to-read guide, produced by the Maryland Insurance Administration, explains what to look for when buying a policy.

A Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance for Teen and Young Adult Drivers

This handbook is geared toward what younger drivers, who are hit with some of the highest premiums, can do to help their parents lower their premiums — from getting good grades to following the rules of the road.

Auto Insurance: A Comparison Guide to Rates

This guide provides 12 different scenarios, then gets quotes from multiple insurers across different areas of the state. Use it to get an idea of what you might pay in premiums. It includes a simple tool to collect and compare offerings of multiple plans.

Collision Information Exchange Form

Print this form out and keep it in your glove box. It’s not an official report, but it provides a useful checklist for the information you need if you’re ever in an accident — because you may be too shaken up to remember what steps to take.

Maryland Auto Insurance

An independent organization established by the Maryland government but independently funded and operated, Maryland Auto Insurance is designed for people who have been denied coverage by at least two insurance companies.

Maryland Insurance Administration: Consumer Publications

For more on car insurance, consult the Maryland Insurance Administration, which keeps updated guides available for download.

Maryland Insurance Administration: File a Complaint

Consumers who think they are being treated unfairly by an insurance company can call the Insurance Administration’s hotline or file an online complaint on its website.

Motor Vehicle Administration: Insurance Requirements for Maryland Vehicles

The MVA is in charge of licensing drivers and registering vehicles, but it also plays an active role in verifying insurance. Marylanders can find the basics about the state’s insurance regulations and paperwork policies here.