During Maryland’s 2019 legislative session, the General Assembly significantly expanded pre-suit discovery of specified insurance coverage information by passing SB 101. Under the prior law, insurers were required to provide a claimant of a motor vehicle accident documentation of the applicable limits of liability coverage in any insurance agreement under which the insurer may be liable within 30 days after receipt of the claimant’s written request, regardless of whether the insurer contested the applicability of coverage to the claim.
SB 101 expands this pre-suit discovery in two ways. First, the bill expands the scope from claims involving only motor vehicle accidents to claims pertaining to other torts involving bodily injury or death, applicable to any automobile, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Second, SB 101 expands the documentation a claimant must produce in order to receive this information. Previously a claimant was required to submit (1) the date of the motor vehicle accident; (2) the name and last known address of the alleged tortfeasor; (3) a copy of the vehicle accident report, if available; and (4) the insurer’s claim number, if available. SB 101 additionally requires that claimant’s produce a letter from an attorney, admitted to practice law in the state, certifying that (1) the attorney has made reasonable efforts to investigate the underlying facts of the claim; and (2) based on the attorney’s representation, the attorney reasonably believes that the claim is not frivolous.
It is important to note that an insurer may not be civilly or criminally liable for the disclosure of this documentation and disclosure does not constitute an admission that a claim is subject to the applicable insurance agreement. Disclosure similarly does not waive any terms or conditions of the insurance agreement, including any potential defense concerning coverage or liability. The documentation provided by an insurer in accordance with this SB 101 is not admissible as evidence at trial by reason of its mandatory disclosure under the statute.
Through passing SB 101, the legislature has provided a larger class of potential tort claimants access to the policy limits. Potential claimants (and their counsel) that previously may not have known this information will now be better positioned to negotiate resolution of pre-suit claims with the applicable policy limits in mind. This expansion of pre-suit discovery requirements applies only prospectively to claims filed with an insurer on or after October 1, 2019, SB 101’s effective date.
For more information about this article, please contact Ryan Posey at 410.230.1017 or email@example.com.