In Maine, as in every state, car insurance is sure to play a big part in any claim brought after a traffic accident. And Maine, like most states, requires vehicle owners and drivers to maintain certain types and amounts of insurance coverage. Read on for the details of Maine's auto insurance rules and how coverage is likely to affect a car accident case.
Maine follows a traditional "fault"-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a car accident: injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).
In Maine, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. After a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to the personal injury protection coverage of your own car insurance policy for payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the crash. Only if your injuries reach a certain threshold can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. But Maine drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident.
The required minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage in Maine are:
In Maine, a "Combined Single Limit" of $125,000 in liability insurance will also satisfy the state's requirements for this type of coverage.
Liability coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that liability coverage doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a Maine car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in Maine) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Maine
Maine also requires that any car insurance policy include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, at a minimum of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident. "This coverage protects you and your passengers if the other driver responsible for the accident has no insurance, or if the other driver's limits are less than your UM limit," according to the state's Department of Professional & Financial Regulation. Maine requires that your UM coverage equal your liability coverage if your liability limit is higher than the state's minimum, unless you reject the higher UIM limit in writing.
Medical Payments Coverage Required in Maine
In addition to liability and UM coverage, Maine requires vehicle owners and drivers to carry $2,000 in medical payments (often called "MedPay") coverage. Learn more about how MedPay car insurance works.
According to Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A section 1601, if you're asked by a law enforcement officer to produce proof of insurance (after a traffic stop or car accident, for example) and you don't have it, that's considered proof that you're driving without insurance, which will likely constitute an infraction punishable by a fine of $100 to $500, plus possible suspension of your driver's license and vehicle registration.
Of course, these penalties will likely pale in comparison to the financial hit you could take if you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.