Recently, U.S. News reported that Maine had the lowest average car insurance rates in the United States, with Maine drivers paying $456 below the national average per year. So while Maine car insurance laws mandate coverage for all vehicles driven in the state, drivers can usually count on reasonable premiums for that protection. As you shop for your policy, here’s what you’ll need to know about Maine auto insurance laws to be sure that your coverage complies.
Mandatory Maine Auto Coverage
If you own or drive a car in Maine, you’ll have to carry the minimum amount of car insurance required by the state. You won’t be able to register your vehicle unless you have proof of that coverage, so it’s a good idea to get a policy when buying a new car. For those moving to Maine, the law allows up to 30 days to change over your vehicle’s registration. Before you can do that, you’ll have to have proof of car insurance. That policy will need at least the following protections:
- Property damage: $25,000
- Bodily injury or death, single person: $50,000
- Bodily injury or death, multi-person (per accident): $100,000
- Medical payments: $2,000 per person
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident
Understanding the Types of Required Coverage
Taking a closer look at the types of required coverages might help you get a better grasp on Maine car insurance laws. Property damage is fairly straightforward: it pays to fix the damage you cause in an accident where you’re at fault to someone else’s vehicle or other property. Bodily injury liability protects you in an at-fault accident when drivers or passengers outside your vehicle die or are injured. It pays for things like other parties’ medical bills and lost wages, as well as your legal expenses.
Medical payments coverage, also known as medical expense coverage or med pay, can help you pay for your or your passengers’ medical bills from a car accident. Medical payments coverage differs from bodily injury protection because you can use it regardless of whether you’re at fault. In most other states, medical payments is an optional coverage, and some states don’t offer it at all.
Finally, Maine law requires all insurance carriers to provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at an amount at least equal to the amount of coverage for bodily injury liability. What’s unique about Maine law is that drivers may reject uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that exceeds the mandated minimum coverage if they expressly do so in writing.
Your carrier will have a form that you can sign saying you understand what you’re turning down, and you won’t have to accept the extra coverage that matches your liability coverage. Keep in mind, though, that roughly one in every twenty drivers in Maine is uninsured according to the Insurance Research Council, so the lower cost may be worth it.
Defining an At-fault State
Different coverages can get triggered depending on who was at fault in the accident. There are some states where fault in an auto accident doesn’t matter in terms of how an auto insurance claim is processed, and there are limitations on the right to sue; those are called “no-fault” states. Twelve such states exist in the United States, and Maine is not one of them.
Instead, Maine is a “fault” or “at-fault” state, which means the insurance company of the policyholder at fault in a crash must pay the claims of the other parties. That designation also means Maine doesn’t restrict lawsuits for car accidents, so the driver at fault can be sued for things like pain and suffering and medical expenses paid out of pocket.
How to Recover From an Accident-Related Loss
Because Maine is a fault state, drivers have several ways they can pursue compensation for a loss related to a car crash. If you suffered personal injuries or property damage as a result of an auto accident, you can proceed through any of these three avenues:
- Make a claim with your insurance company. Even if you’re not at fault, you can always start with your insurance carrier. If you’re at fault and the loss is covered, the carrier will pay the other party. If you’re not at fault and you suffered a loss, the carrier will likely pay you and then subrogate the claim, meaning they’ll pursue payment from the at-fault party.
- File suit against the at-fault party in court. Typically, your insurance company will help you with this, providing attorneys or at least paying attorneys’ fees. The size of your claim determines where you will file your suit. If your claim is $6,000 or less, you’ll file in a small claims court. If it’s more than $6,000, you’d file in a district court.
- Make a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer. You also have the option of filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
What Qualifies as Proof of Coverage in Maine?
If you fail to provide proof of insurance in Maine, it’s considered evidence that you are uninsured, which may result in a fine ranging from $100-$500. In 2012, the Maine Legislature passed a bill that allows drivers to show proof of insurance or financial responsibility in electronic form, including on a cell phone. For those nervous about showing their cell phones to law enforcement, the law also specifically states that providing proof of insurance in that way doesn’t give consent for an officer to access any other part of the device.
Consequences of Driving Uninsured
Driving without insurance in Maine could lead to a fine, but that may be the least of your worries. Other penalties might include:
- A license suspension
- A vehicle registration suspension
- A suspension of your right to apply for a driver’s license or vehicle registration
Maine is a beautiful place to live and drive, and a good auto insurance policy can protect you while you do. Now that you know the requirements of Maine car insurance laws, take a look at different rates to make sure you get the best premiums available.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.