Recently passed legislation in the State of Maryland will require pre-litigation discovery requirements that have been heretofore applicable to only automobile tort claims to be extended to other tort claims involving bodily injury and death.
The new law stipulates that this requirement is also applicable claims by the estate of a decedent who died from an alleged tort or a beneficiary of the decedent.
Insurer Must Provide Applicable Limits of Coverage
Where insurance coverage may be provided under motor vehicle insurance policy or a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, an insurer “is required to provide a claimant with documentation of the applicable limits of coverage…”
To obtain the “applicable limits,” a claimant must submit the following to the insurer:
- The date of the alleged tort.
- The name and last known addresses of the alleged tortfeasor.
- A copy of an auto accident report, police report concerning the alleged tort.
- The insurer’s claim number, if available.
- A letter from an attorney admitted to practice in Maryland certifying that he or she has made “reasonable efforts” to investigate the facts of the claim; and based on this reasonably believes the claim isn’t frivolous.
New Requirements When Dealing With An Estate
If the claimant is the estate of an individual or beneficiary of anyone killed in a vehicle accident, the claimant is required to provide certain written information to the insurance company to get the limits of liability coverage:
- The date of the auto accident.
- The name and address of the alleged tortfeasor.
- A copy of the auto accident report (if available).
- The insurance company’s claim number (if available).
- A copy of the decedent’s death certificate.
- A copy of the letters of administration issued to appoint the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
- The name of the beneficiaries of the decedent (if known).
- the decedent’s relationship to the beneficiaries.
Insurer’s Obligations under the New Law
An insurer is required to provide in writing the documentation within 30 days after the date of a request—regardless of whether it contests the applicability of coverage to a claim. The documentation of the limits of liability coverage provided by an insurance company isn’t admissible evidence in a trial.
This legislation broadens the application of statutory provisions authorizing the pre-litigation discovery of specified insurance coverage information from auto accidents claims to those involving any tort involving bodily injury or death.
The new law mandates this pre-litigation discovery to the applicable limits of coverage in any automobile, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policy. But note that insurers issuing commercial policies and umbrella policies need not provide information about limits.
In addition, the bill expands the documentation a claimant must submit to receive this information. The law is effective October 1, 2019. Full-text of the law can be found here.