Maine has some of the strictest car insurance requirements in the United States. This helps ensure that drivers are safe and well-protected when they’re on the road. With more than one million licensed drivers in the state who travel an average of nearly 14,000 miles a year, there are many opportunities for vehicle accidents to occur.
A car accident can impact even the safest, most careful driver because they’re not the only ones behind the wheel. Fortunately, Maine’s laws are designed to keep all drivers as safe as possible. Those who comply with the state’s car insurance laws are well-protected, even if they’re in an accident with a driver who is uninsured and at fault.
Here’s what you need to do to protect yourself as a driver in Maine.
Car Insurance Requirements in Maine
To operate a vehicle in Maine, you must carry car insurance that meets the state’s minimum requirements by law. It’s important to know that state minimums may not provide the protection you really need to cover your assets in the event of an accident. This is simply the minimum that’s legally necessary for a driver to obtain a vehicle registration.
Liability coverage pays for property damage and bodily injury that others suffer if you’re at fault in an accident. This does not cover costs associated with your own property damage or personal injury. The state of Maine requires a minimum of:
- $50,000 per person.
- $100,000 per accident for bodily injury.
- $25,000 for property damage.
These requirements can also be satisfied by Combined Single Limit coverage of $125,000.
Medical Payments Coverage
Maine requires that drivers carry at least $2,000 in medical payments coverage per person. This will go toward medical expenses you and your passengers incur in the event of a car accident. Though this coverage will allow you to legally stay on the road, you should carefully consider how quickly medical expenses can add up, particularly if you suffer serious injuries, and add additional coverage. You can add $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000 of coverage per person with a relatively small increase in your monthly insurance payments.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage
To stay in compliance with Maine’s car insurance laws, you must have uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) coverage in the amount of:
- $50,000 per person.
- $100,000 per accident.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for injuries you and your passengers experience if the other driver is at fault but does not carry their own car insurance. This insurance will also kick in if the other driver’s coverage limits are less than what is needed to cover your costs. If your liability limit is higher than the minimum, you must either increase your UM limit to match or provide a written rejection of the higher UM limit.
Maine Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
If you’re caught driving without the proper insurance coverage in Maine, you could suffer these consequences:
- A fine of $100 to $500.
- Suspension of your driver’s license.
- Suspension of your vehicle registration.
If a law enforcement officer pulls you over and asks for proof of insurance, you must provide current documentation. Failure to have this on hand counts as proof that you’re driving without insurance and you may be subject to the penalties listed above. Fortunately, Maine police officers do accept electronic proof of insurance, so you can avoid these penalties by displaying your insurance policy information online.
Determining Fault in Maine Car Accidents
Maine uses a fault-based system to determine who is responsible for the expenses associated with a car accident. This means that the person who caused the car accident is liable for the costs associated with injuries, vehicle damage, loss of income as a result of the accident, and more. As long as the at-fault driver is carrying adequate car insurance, it’s actually the insurance company and not the driver who covers these expenses.
If you’re injured or suffer damage to your personal belongings in a car accident that’s due to someone else’s negligence, you can receive compensation by:
- Filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company, which will likely pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
This process differs in no-fault states. In a no-fault state, each person’s own insurance company must pay for damages and injuries that resulted from the accident. The other driver’s insurance policy only comes into play in cases where injuries exceed a set threshold.
Getting Affordable Car Insurance in Maine
The cost of insurance is typically a major barrier for those who are uninsured in Maine. Car insurance companies consider several factors when quoting premiums to Maine drivers. In Maine, insurance providers are allowed to consider:
- Driving record and claim history: Accidents and moving vehicle violations or convictions as well as car insurance claims over the last three to five years.
- Vehicle garaging: Where the vehicle is kept impacts the associated risks.
- Gender, age, and marital status: These factors are associated with different rates of car insurance claims.
- Credit history: An applicant’s credit history correlates to their risk level.
- Make and model of the insured vehicle: Some vehicles are safer and associated with fewer accidents than others.
- Prior insurance coverage: New insurance providers look to see if you’ve had past coverage that was canceled or not renewed.
- Use of the vehicle: Your insurance company considers whether you use the vehicle daily, why you’re driving, and how many miles you’re putting on the vehicle.
With these factors in mind, you may be able to make adjustments to lower your car insurance premiums so you can maintain the state’s minimum coverage. You should also compare plans from several providers, and ask about discounts and low-cost state insurance programs.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Vehicle Accident
If you or a loved one has been in an automobile accident and suffered personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence, there are a lot of issues to consider, including insurance company tactics and how they may take advantage of you.
Berman & Simmons can help. We will answer your questions, explain all your legal options for a vehicle accident lawsuit, and provide a roadmap for what comes next.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.