Insurance Counsel Division - Homeowners
Maryland, insurance companies and their agents or producers
are regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration
(MIA). The Insurance Commissioner is required to enforce the
insurance laws passed by the Maryland General Assembly. By law,
all insurance companies are required to file their rates and
policy forms with the MIA and other laws regulate insurance claim
or cancelation of a policy and insurance
premium. If you have a problem with your insurance
company or agent, you can file a complaint with the MIA and an
investigator will determine whether your insurance company violated
insurance laws. Violations are not found in most complaint matters
and the law gives the complainant the opportunity to request
an administrative hearing after receiving the investigator’s
letter finding that there was no violation.
on ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
is an administrative hearing
do I request an administrative hearing
I request an administrative hearing?
will decide the case
I contact the ALJ or MIA about my case
I need an attorney or can I represent myself
I get an attorney to represent me at the administrative
someone at PICD be my attorney
I settle my case without a hearing
I get my complaint file from the MIA
do I prepare for my hearing
I need permission to bring people who support my viewpoint?
can I change the date for my hearing?
will happen at my administrative hearing?
is the “burden of proof”?
happens if I fail to attend the hearing?
will a decision be issued?
I win my case against the insurance company?
if I disagree with the decision?
What is an administrative hearing?
you receive a negative decision from the Maryland Insurance
Administration (MIA) on your complaint, you may request a
formal administrative hearing. Your hearings will either
be held at the MIA or at the Office of Administrative Hearings
(OAH). At your hearing, you can testify and present evidence
supporting your complaint. You can also identify the relevant
insurance laws to show that the insurance company violated
Maryland law. The insurance company will likely have witnesses
or documents to show that it did not violate the insurance
laws. Approximately one month after the hearing, the MIA
or OAH will issue a written decision that should include
the hearing officer's findings of fact and a decision on
whether the insurance company's actions constituted a violation
of Maryland law. If the hearing is held at the MIA, the full
text of all MIA hearing regulations can be found by clicking: COMAR
31.02.01.01 to 31.02.01.14 The OAH hearing procedures
are found in the regulations for OAH, COMAR 28.02.01.01 to
How do I request an administrative hearing?
Send a letter to the MIA explaining that you want a hearing.
The letter must be received by the MIA no later than the 30th
day following the date on the letter from MIA explaining the
decision made on your complaint. Post-marking the request by
the 30th day will not be considered a timely hearing request.
Should I request an administrative hearing?
Only you can decide whether to request a hearing on your insurance
complaint. You may want to consider what written information
or documents you have or could obtain to show that the insurance
company violated the insurance laws when it acted or failed to
act (e.g. denied coverage, sent a non-renewal notice).
Who will decide the case?
If your hearing is held at the MIA, a Deputy Insurance Commissioner
or Associate Commissioner may be assigned to hear your case.
If your hearing is held at OAH, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
will hear the case and issue either a final decision or a proposed
decision. If the ALJ is directed by MIA to issue a proposed decision,
the case is returned to MIA for a final decision. The ALJ is
an attorney and an employee of the OAH, not an employee of the
Maryland Insurance Administration. There are many ALJs employed
by OAH and one will be appointed to conduct your hearing.
May I contact the ALJ or MIA about my case?
No, you should instead contact an OAH Docket Specialist if the
case is scheduled to be heard at OAH. If the case will be held
at MIA, you can contact the MIA Appeals Clerk. The phone numbers
are: OAH, Maryland Insurance Administration Docket Specialist:
410-229-4265; MIA Main Phone Number: 410-468-2000.
Do I need an attorney or can I represent myself?
are permitted to represent yourself. If you want someone
to represent you, the person needs to be an attorney. Homeowners
often represent themselves at an administrative hearing.
The Insurance Company is generally represented by an attorney.
I get an attorney to represent me at the administrative hearing?
You must decide whether to get an attorney. You may want to
consider the cost of legal representation, the complexity of
the matter and what amount you may be able to obtain from the
insurance company. Insurance policies have limits for the different
coverages provided by the policy. For example, a typical limit
for a single piece of jewelry is $1,500. Even if a ring is valued
at $5,000, the most you could get from the insurance company
may only be $1,500. By looking at the limits in your policy,
you can identify the maximum amount your policy will pay for
Can someone at PICD be my attorney?
the People's Insurance Counsel Division (PICD) is not able
to provide legal representation for individual homeowners.
May I settle my case without a hearing?
Parties are encouraged to settle their cases and the OAH offers
two voluntary methods of alternative dispute resolution. The
first way is to have your assigned ALJ work as a settlement judge
on your case. In this capacity, the ALJ will assist the parties
with settlement discussions as well as provide a realistic assessment
of their case. The second option is to have the ALJ work as a
mediator. In this capacity, the ALJ will discuss the case with
the parties and work toward a resolution with an assessment.
If you would like to take advantage of either of these alternative
dispute resolution methods, please contact the docket specialist
listed on your hearing notice as far in advance as possible.
The ALJ who will help you with the settlement will not hear or
discuss your case with the ALJ who may eventually be assigned
to conduct your hearing. Your case will not be postponed due
to your partaking in mediation or settlement discussions.
Can I get my complaint file from the MIA?
Yes, your request for a copy of the complaint investigation
file should be made in writing and it may take a few weeks for
the file to be ready. MIA will charge you for the copies.
How do I prepare for my hearing?
Prepare by focusing on what you need to prove. You will need
to prove that the action or inaction of the insurance company
violated a Maryland insurance law. Review the insurance laws
and the hearing rules. (See
Essential Information for homeowners with disputes with their
insurance company.) Prepare to bring
with you any witnesses or documents that will support your case.
For example, in the case of a claim denial or insufficient claim
payment, you may want to have a document showing the cost of
repair work performed by a contractor who repaired your home.
You will need the original document, plus three copies (one for
you, one that may be referred to by a witness, one for the ALJ
or MIA hearing officer, and one for the other party).
Do I need permission to bring people who support my viewpoint?
person you wish to testify at the hearing, you should submit
a written request for a subpoena. You will need the
full name and full address of each person you wish to subpoena.
You must specifically describe any documents (books, papers,
etc.) you wish to subpoena. For each subpoena requested, you
will need to provide the requestor’s name, address, and
For hearings held at the MIA:
Submit the written request to
MIA. If the request is made 15 or fewer days before the scheduled
hearing date, the requestor must arrange to have the subpoena
served by a person who is not a party to the case and who is
at least 18 years old. The person serving the subpoena must prepare
an Affidavit stating that service was made and the Affidavit
must be filed with MIA. For the full text of
the regulation summarized here, click on the MIA hearing
regulations in the first FAQ to
find COMAR 31.02.01.06.
hearings held at OAH:
Submit the written request to the Clerk’s
Office at the OAH. For the full text of the regulation summarized
here, click on: COMAR
28.02.01.14. Subpoenas must
be made at least 10 (ten) days before the scheduled hearing.
Each subpoena costs $5.00 and the requestor must specify the
method of service for the subpoena from the three choices below:
delivery by an individual 18 years or older who is not
a party to the proceeding. The requestor is responsible
for all necessary arrangements.
Mail to the person at the address listed in the subpoena
requestor is responsible for the cost of
the certified mail.
Mail if mailed by the OAH.
the total cost of your request, please contact the docket specialist
listed on your hearing notice. Please include
all necessary checks with your requests made payable to the “Maryland
How can I change the date for my hearing?
For hearings held at the MIA:
At least 15 days before the hearing date, you may submit a written
request for a postponement. The MIA will decide whether to
grant the request. If the postponement request is made fewer
than 15 days before the hearing, the postponement will not
be allowed unless it is for good cause. Documentation showing
the need for the postponement should be provided with the request.
For the full text of the MIA regulation on postponements, click
on the MIA hearing regulations in the first FAQ to find COMAR
For hearings held at OAH:
Five days or more before the hearing date, you may request a
postponement, in writing if you cannot attend your hearing.
You also need to send a copy of your request to the other party(ies)
at the same time you send it to the OAH. In your request, you
need to establish good cause for your inability to attend your
hearing with supporting documentation. For example, if you
have a health-related reason, provide a doctor’s note
confirming your reason. If you have vacation plans, you must
provide proof of your plans. Emergency postponement requests
can be made by telephone. For more information on postponements,
please click on: COMAR
28.02.01.16. Additional information
is also available at http://www.oah.state.md.us/postponement.asp.
What will happen at my administrative hearing?
The hearing will begin with a brief introduction to the hearing
procedures. Each party will be allowed to make opening statements
and then witnesses may be called. Each party has the right to
examine his or her own witness and the opposing party will then
have the right to cross-examine that witness. Documents or other
evidence may be presented through witnesses. Decisions will be
made on whether each item of evidence will be admitted. After
each party has had a chance to present their witnesses, the party
that bears the burden of proof may have the right to present
rebuttal evidence. At the end of the hearing, each party may
present a closing argument.
What is the “burden of proof”?
The “burden of proof” is
the responsibility to prove the disputed charge or allegation.
The party who filed the complaint
bears this burden and will present his or her case first. If
this party fails to prove his or her case, this party will lose
the case. The ALJ or the MIA hearing officer establishes who
bears the burden of proof at the beginning of the hearing.
What happens if I fail to attend the hearing?
The ALJ or
MIA hearing officer may proceed with the hearing in the party’s
absence or issue a default order against the absent party.
(For the OAH regulation on this topic, click
on COMAR 28.02.01.23. For the full text of the MIA regulation,
click on the MIA hearing regulations in the first FAQ to find
When will a decision be issued?
The ALJ or the MIA hearing officer issues a decision on the
hearing within 30 days of the hearing date.
Will I win my case against the insurance company?
It is impossible to know the outcome of a future hearing. Homeowners
who bring documents or have witnesses that support their viewpoint
have a better chance than those that come to the hearing without
documents or other proof.
What if I disagree with the decision?
request for rehearing can be submitted in writing to the
Commissioner if the hearing was held at the MIA. If
the hearing was held at OAH and the ALJ issued a proposed
decision, a request for rehearing can be submitted to
the Insurance Commissioner. (For the full text of the
regulation, click on
the MIA hearing regulations in the first FAQ to find
COMAR 31.02.01.13.) If the ALJ issued a final decision,
the ALJ can revise the decision
if there is fraud, a mistake or an irregularity. Requests
must be submitted to the ALJ. (See COMAR
Alternatively, a decision against the person who filed the complaint
can be appealed to the Maryland Circuit Court by filing a petition
for judicial review within 30 days of the date of the decision
or order. The insurance law allowing review by a court is found
at section 2-215 of the Insurance Article.
more questions and answers relating to administrative hearings,
please visit the Office of Administrative Hearings website at: http://www.oah.state.md.us/faq.asp
Attorney General’s Office
Insurance Counsel Division
St. Paul Street
Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
1 (888) 743-0023