When the time comes to find a brand new–or your first–auto insurance policy, the options can make your head spin. With all the companies out there, the coverage available, and even the discrepancies in price, how can you possibly choose?
While a primary concern is usually cost, you should also consider some other major factors. It’s equally important to ensure that you choose a company with excellent customer satisfaction, a proven track record of service, multiple coverage limits offered, and even options for deductibles. That way, you can meet all of your needs and your budget.
We spent hours poring over the options and data available to bring you this comprehensive guide to buying auto insurance in Maryland. In it, we cover everything that you need to know about searching for your next policy and the legal requirements before you get behind the wheel. We also talk about factors that will impact premiums in this state and which companies are most likely to provide you with the best value for coverage.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll know exactly what you need from your next auto insurance company, how much you can expect to pay, and where to look when you’re ready to buy a policy.
Table of Contents:
Compare Car Insurance Plans in Maryland
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Maryland
Whether you’re a new driver in Maryland or just looking for a replacement policy, you have plenty of options. Some companies are better than others – both according to ratings and the services offered. So we’ve ranked our top five picks in the state.
It’s important to keep in mind that your own personal experience may differ somewhat, just based on the coverage you choose to buy, your own personal driving record, and even where you live within the state. Based on our research and available consumer ratings, though, here are our top picks for auto insurance in Maryland:
- Best Overall Satisfaction: State Farm
- Best Customer Service: Allstate
- Lowest Premiums: State Auto
- Great If You Have a Perfect Record: State Auto
- Best If You Have a Less-Than-Perfect Record: Allstate
Maryland Auto Insurance Requirements
Each and every state has its own legal requirements for minimum auto insurance coverage. The Old Line State mandates that every driver carries at least a certain amount of both bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. Let’s take a look at what Maryland requires.
Any time there is an auto accident, there are two types of damages to consider: bodily injury and personal property.
Bodily injury liability coverage is intended to cover any injuries a driver may cause to someone else. Most states have both a minimum total amount of coverage, and a minimum amount of coverage if two or more people are injured in the same accident. Keep in mind that if two or more people are harmed in an accident, the total bodily injury coverage amount is split between them.
Property damage coverage repairs or replaces any damage that a driver’s actions may cause to someone else’s property. This could include another driver’s vehicle, objects like signage, structures and buildings, and more.
As a driver, you can buy as much coverage as you’d like. Depending on your assets, it may even be wise to purchase coverage above and beyond what’s required. However, the state mandates certain minimums that you must hold to drive there. Here are the minimums in Maryland:
|Bodily Damage Liability|
|Death or injury of one person in any one accident||$30,000 minimum|
|Death or injury of 2+ people in any one accident||$60,000 minimum|
|Property Damage Liability||$15,000 minimum|
In Maryland, drivers who have trouble finding state-minimum coverage elsewhere may be eligible for the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. We’ll discuss this further below.
If you fail to hold adequate liability coverage through a state-licensed company, you’ll be unable to register your vehicle in Maryland. You’re also considered uninsured if you don’t have at least the minimum limits mentioned above. This means you cannot legally drive a motor vehicle at any time in the state.
If you are ever asked to provide proof of minimum coverage, either after you get pulled over or in an accident, you will need to present a copy of your policy. If you can’t, you’ll get an uninsured driver ticket. If you’re actually insured but just don’t have proof with you, you can always bring that to the court. There, they will typically drop the charge, though you will likely have to pay processing fees or court costs.
The penalty for failing to obtain coverage or allowing coverage to lapse is a fine of $150 for the first 30 days and an additional $7 for each day thereafter. There is an annual maximum of $2,500 for these fines, per vehicle. Plus, you’ll be subject to court costs, and Maryland will suspend your registration until you get adequate coverage. This could even mean a tag recovery agent will come and physically confiscate your vehicle’s license plates!
If you drive with a suspended registration, the state can fine you or even impound your vehicle. Failure to pay your accrued fines may also result in additional penalties in the form of a 17% collection fee. Oh, and the state can intercept your income tax return if you continue to ignore notices to pay what you owe.
Getting in an accident with inadequate state minimum liability coverage is very serious, even if the accident isn’t your fault! If you are at fault, you’ll be responsible for the damages and injuries incurred by the other driver(s). And they can sue you for these bills if your insurance doesn’t cover them. This has the potential to ruin you financially.
If you’re uninsured or underinsured and get in an auto accident, the state will likely suspend your license. They’ll fine you for your lack of coverage, as well. And it’s easy to get caught without coverage, as providers in Maryland regularly report cancelled and lapsed policies to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration.
The only thing worse than driving without liability insurance, though, is providing false evidence of coverage. Not only are you subject to all the punishments and penalties above. But falsely claiming or presenting false proof of coverage also brings a fine of $1,000 and/or a year of imprisonment.
Proof of Insurance
Yes, you need to purchase and maintain adequate auto insurance coverage. That’s not all, though: you actually need to carry proof of that coverage on you every single time you drive.
Law enforcement officers in most states can access your insurance status through a database. But they still expect you to carry proof in a printed copy of your insurance or through the insurance company’s app on your phone.
Your proof of insurance will have certain identifying information on it. This includes the name of the policyholder, the vehicles covered under the policy, the policy number, dates of valid coverage, and your address.
In Maryland, the court can impose a $50 fine for failure to provide proof of insurance. This can happen even if a police officer can verify your coverage with the database. It’s still your responsibility to carry proof at all times.
Average Cost of Coverage in Maryland
If you’re a driver in the Old Line State, you may wonder how your premiums measure up to others across the country. Here’s a look at how drivers in Maryland fare compared to other states.
According to data provided by QuoteWizard, the average driver in Maryland pays $1,001.17 a year in auto insurance premiums. This comes out to about $83.43 a month. This is a significant jump when compared to the national average of $866.31 a year.
Broken down further, we see that drivers typically pay $607.19 a year for liability coverage alone. Beyond that, Maryland drivers are shelling out an average of $339.48 a year for collision coverage and $149.70 for comprehensive coverage.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned, your actual auto insurance costs could vary greatly from these averages. So many factors influence the price you pay, including your age, your driving record, where you live in the state, the car you drive, your education level, and even your credit history.
That’s why it’s so important to shop around before choosing a company. By shopping around, you can not only find the right coverage for you but also the right price.
Cheapest Car Insurance in Maryland
It’s incredibly difficult to compare auto insurance companies and try to say which one is the “cheapest” when there are so many factors at play. Even when you find one that is cheaper on average, you never know how your individual quote will look. After all, those averages include rates for 18-year-old male drivers in sports cars just as often as they include 45-year-old soccer moms with minivans.
With that said, we took some time to compare the various auto insurance companies in Maryland to see how they measured up against one another. We used the same search criteria to see who regularly came up as a better value. Our sample policyholder? A 30-year-old single male with a clean driving record and good credit. He owns a 2013 Chevy Malibu and lives in the Rockville area.
Here’s a look at how the most popular companies in the state measured up, based on a year of their quoted price for state minimum coverage:
|Insurance Company||Annual Premium|
Now, let’s take a look at how our same example guy would fare if he instead lived in Potomac:
|Insurance Company||Annual Premium|
Your results may vary based on your specific ZIP Code and personal factors. However, if you live in Maryland, you can probably bank on Allstate and State Auto being two of your cheapest insurance providers in the state.
Cost of Auto Insurance in Maryland
You might be asking, “How much does auto insurance cost in Maryland?” Unfortunately, that is a question with literally hundreds of different answers.
The cost you’ll pay depends on so many variables, including your:
- Marital status
- Driving record
- Credit report
- Vehicle(s) covered
- Whether your vehicle is financed, leased, or paid in full
- ZIP code
- Whether you own or rent your home
- Miles driven each year and the purpose of those miles (work commute, pleasure, etc.)
- How much coverage is desired
There is absolutely no way to accurately answer that question without knowing each person’s individual factors. As we talked about previously, though, the average annual cost for auto insurance across the entire state of Maryland is just over $1,001 a year. (If you’re considering liability coverage only, the average drops down to just $607 a year.)
Let’s try to narrow down these rates a bit more, though. Then, we might be able to give you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay each year for liability coverage.
To do this, we have developed four different driver “profiles.” While you probably won’t be an exact match for any of them, you can probably relate more closely to one that the others. This will let you see which companies might be worth focusing your efforts. And you can get an approximate range for your annual car insurance costs in Maryland.
All four of our test subject drivers live in Frederick, MD–in ZIP code 21701–which is an area of the state with lower auto insurance rates. Keep in mind that areas like Baltimore may have significantly higher rates.
Fun fact: You’ll get the lowest average rates in Fountainhead-Orchard Hills and the highest average rates in Baltimore.
Little Timmy is a stereotypical high-risk driver: he’s a 22-year-old college kid who cruises around in a financed 2012 Chevy Impala. His driving record isn’t squeaky clean. He’s had two speeding tickets in the last three years (no accidents, though). He drives to work and school each day to the tune of about 15k miles a year, rents an apartment, and has decent credit.
Then we have Jane and John Smith. These college-grad parents are both 42, have a mortgage on their suburban home, own a 2011 Chevy Equinox, and finance a 2014 Toyota Sienna. They drive about 16,000 miles a year and have clean driving records except for Jane’s small fender bender a couple years back. Oh, and they have good credit.
We all know at least one Straight-Laced Sally. She is single, 35 years-old with a college degree, excellent credit, and a squeaky clean driving record. She drives her paid-off 2010 Toyota Camry about 10,000 miles a year and owns her condo.
Grandpa Joe is next, age 65. He owns his home, has excellent credit, and graduated college once upon a time. He drives a 1998 Honda Civic for a total of about 8,000 miles each year, and hasn’t had an accident or gotten a ticket in ages.
While none of these is likely to mirror you and your situation, is there one that you relate to more closely?
Let’s take a look at how they measure up against one another when it comes to obtaining state-mandated coverage in the state of Maryland. (Quotes shown were provided by thezebra.com.) The costs are per month.
|Little Timmy||John & Jane Smith||Straight-Laced Sally||Grandpa Joe|
|The General||$468||not given||$110||$112|
|Liberty Mutual||not given||$235||not given||not given|
As you can probably tell, accidents and citations seem to have much more of an impact on your premiums than other factors, followed by age.
Maryland’s Unique Car Insurance Rules
There are a few unique things about getting car insurance in Maryland. Here’s a look at some of their rules and the discounts that may impact your bottom line price.
Many states will require you to obtain an SR-22 if you get certain citations (such as a DUI or DWI), get in a serious accident, or drive without a license. This certificate notates that you have obtained a “high-risk” policy with a licensed insurance company. It often means paying considerably more in premiums.
However, Maryland is not one of those states. They might revoke your license for certain offenses. The course aren’t shy about fines and penalties. But they’re one of the few states that doesn’t require an SR-22 filing.
Credit is a Factor
Maryland is one of a handful of states that allows insurance providers to take the policyholder’s credit history into account when calculating the cost of their premiums. Depending on your creditworthiness, this could either be a good or bad thing for your wallet.
State law mandates that insurance providers cannot apply surcharges of more than 40% to your premiums based on credit history alone. But that means that serious credit-related offenses can jack your price up considerably.
However, insurers cannot increase your renewal premiums based on credit factors alone. So, if you’ve had negative changes to your credit since the last time you obtained a policy, you won’t see your premiums rise based on that factor alone.
This is excellent motivation to improve your credit score, though! Not only will it save you money on interest rates and give you access to excellent financial products. But you can also save on your auto insurance.
So is Location
Not surprisingly, your location within the state plays a large role in determining your auto insurance premiums. If you live in certain cities or even different ZIP codes within the same city, you could see a significant shift in your monthly cost.
As we already mentioned, the highest average premiums in the state are found in Baltimore. There, in ZIP Code 21216, the average annual cost is $2,423. This is a notable shift from the 21742 ZIP Code of Fountainhead-Orchard Hills, where the annual average is $1,111. That’s more than double the cost, just for living in a different city!
If you have trouble obtaining state-required minimum auto insurance coverage ($30,000/$60,000/$15,000) in the state of Maryland, you may be eligible to apply for the Maryland Auto Insurance program, previously called MAIF. This unique state coverage program connects drivers in need of coverage with their system of over 1,400 agents across the state, helping them obtain auto insurance.
In order to apply, you’ll need to meet a few requirements. First, you’ll need to have a valid driver’s license. You’ll also need to show that you’ve had trouble obtaining a policy elsewhere or that you’ve had a previous policy cancelled.
If you’ve tried getting coverage and been denied by at least two auto insurers, you qualify. The reasons for denial can vary, including a negative or nonexistent credit history, a serious accident on your record, too many citations, a history of lapsed coverage, or even having high-risk drivers on your policy (such as inexperienced teenagers or adults with a poor driving history).
To learn more about the Maryland Auto Insurance program or apply for coverage, visit their website.
Top Car Insurance Companies in Maryland
Wondering who is the most popular auto insurer in Maryland? Here’s a look at seven of the top providers, and the market share that they hold in the state.
State Farm holds the highest market share with 17.6 percent of insured drivers. GEICO – which is actually a combination of both GEICO General and GEICO (Government Employee Insurance) – comes in a close second with 16.4 percent overall. Next up is Allstate with 8.5 percent of the market, followed by Nationwide with 6.3 percent.
Together, these four companies insure just shy of half the drivers in the entire state of Maryland.
You’re probably wondering how each of these companies fares when it comes to customer satisfaction. Well, we took a look at the most popular ratings bureaus–A.M. Best and JD Power–to compare them against one another. These two ratings bureaus not only compare what customers think about services, but also how the insurance companies compare in terms of financial security.
This company serves the biggest auto insurance market share in the state of Maryland. Here’s how they are rated in customer satisfaction and stability:
- A.M. Best: A++ for financial strength rating and aa+ for long-term credit issuer rating
- JD Power: #12 in the region with a 2-star rating in overall satisfaction
Two divisions of this company combine as the second-largest auto insurance market shareholder in the state. Here’s what its customers think:
- A.M. Best: A++ for financial strength rating and aaa for long-term credit issuer rating
- JD Power: #8 in the region with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Allstate is the third-largest insurer in Maryland, with an 8.5% market share. But it ranks above all of the others mentioned here in customer satisfaction ratings from JD Power.
- A.M. Best: A+ for financial strength rating and aa- for long-term credit issuer rating
- JD Power: #7 with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
This company insures only 6.3% of drivers in the state, bringing up the back as the 4th largest market share insurer in Maryland.
- A.M. Best: A+ for financial strength rating and aa- for long-term credit issuer rating
- JD Power: #10 in the state with a 2-star overall satisfaction rating
If you still want to know more about driving insured in Maryland, the requirements for such, and any resources provided by the state, you can check out the state’s website. They have a wealth of information regarding regulations, state laws, fines and penalties, and even suggestions for licensed insurers.
You can view their website here.