Maryland State Senator Robert A. Zirkin has proposed legislation that would expand the types of cases in which insurers must disclose policy limits to claimants before a lawsuit is ever filed. Under the proposed law, Senate Bill 144, insurers would be required to disclose policy limits to claimants pre-suit in all types of tort cases, and not just cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents, as previously required. The text of the proposed legislation can be found here: Senate Bill 144.
The proposed legislation is the most recent in a line of legislation that has eroded insurers’ ability to protect the disclosure of policy limits pre-suit, and broadened claimants’ ability to obtain that information. Before 2015, Maryland law required insurers to disclose policy limits pre-suit only in cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents, if claimants provided certain information (e.g. the date of the accident, the name and address of the tortfeasor, a copy of the accident report, the insurer’s claim number, medical records and bills, and lost wage documentation) and if the medical bills and lost wages were at least $12,500.00. However, in 2015, the General Assembly (Maryland’s legislative body) passed Senate Bill 146, which also was sponsored by Senator Zirkin. That bill altered the statutes governing the pre-litigation disclosure of policy limits in two ways. First, the 2015 amendment eliminated the provision requiring a claimant’s medical bills and lost wages to exceed $12,500 before requiring disclosure of the policy limits. Second, the 2015 amendment eliminated a claimant’s obligation to provide insurers with medical records and bills, and lost wage documentation, before requiring disclosure of the policy limits.
The new proposed legislation is set for its first hearing on January 26, 2017. Maryland’s 2017 legislative session runs from January 11, 2017 to April 10, 2017.