The Maryland Insurance Administration (“MIA”) hearing should be a speed bump on Plaintiff’s road to a jury trial in the Circuit Court. (This is certainly a fair summary of Miller and Zois’ take.) Insureds rarely win before the MIA. But Circuit Court juries should be far more sympathetic than the MIA. If for no other reason, juries have been known to decide cases based on sympathy and to dislike insurance companies. Plaintiffs should therefore file their claims intending to wind up in front of a jury.
Yet about half of MIA merits decisions go unappealed and only a quarter go to the Circuit Court. (For the separate question about why people appeal to the OAH at all, see here.)
This makes very little sense for Plaintiffs. I cannot imagine why any typical Insured would take an adverse MIA decision instead of a jury trial. At the very least, I cannot imagine why Insureds do not file for a jury trial in the hopes of getting a cost of litigation settled from their Insurers.
I could see an insured's attorney abandoning the matter after a MIA defeat if the defeat made it apparent that the case failed as a matter of law. Why throw good time after bad? But if the case can get to a jury, a jury will almost certainly be far more sympathetic to an Insured than to Insurer. (There’s a reason why Insurance information is inadmissible in normal tort suits, after all.) And since there is almost no law on §27-1001, there should still be a potential jury issue in most suits. (Under Brethren v. Buckley, the MIA decisions are persuasive and may have shut down many arguments, but they are only persuasive.)
It's of course possible that insureds are not appealing because they file suit directly without appealing (which you can do.) But it is not clear why they don't appeal, if only to keep the MIA's insurance bad faith decision from becoming final and at least potentially preclusive.
Revision note: This post was slightly revised in August 2015 because we re-read it and could not resist tinkering.