Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Laws in Georgia
Georgia requires all motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability auto insurance in order to register their vehicle in the state. This insurance pays for the bodily injury and property damage that the driver causes others to suffer in a car accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers abide by this mandatory insurance law.
When a person without required insurance causes an accident, or when that person’s insurance fails to fully cover a victim’s losses, victims and their families face the possibility of financial disaster. Medical bills alone can cause car accident injury victims to clean out their savings accounts and max out their credit cards. The purpose of uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is to protect people from this devastation.
What is UM/UIM? Like liability insurance, is it mandatory in Georgia? How much coverage will it provide?
These are all questions that you may have after you get into an accident with a driver that lacks liability insurance which pays for all of your losses or carries no insurance at all. An Atlanta car accident attorney at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, can answer these questions for you, determine the coverage available to you and, above all, fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us now to learn more about how we can assist you.
What is Georgia’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Law?
As we stated above, Georgia law states that all drivers must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. This coverage must include at least:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
Georgia requires this insurance to protect people from financial ruin when someone else causes them to suffer injuries or damages their vehicle in a crash. Our state operates on a tort system for auto insurance. In other words, car accident victims initially pursue compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance before they turn to their own coverage.
Unfortunately, the Insurance Research Council has found that approximately 9-11 percent of drivers in Georgia lack liability insurance. Even those who do have the required insurance may carry only the minimum amounts. Typically, the mandatory minimum insurance does not go too far and leaves victims paying out-of-pocket for their medical bills and other accident-related expenses.
Even though UM/UIM coverage protects car accident victims in these situations, Georgia law does not require the insurance. However, the law requires insurance companies to offer this type of insurance when drivers first purchase their liability policy. Unless you have specifically opted out of this coverage, in writing, you likely have UM and UIM insurance. To determine if you have this important coverage, you should check the Declarations page of your policy. An attorney at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, can also review your policy with you.
What Does UM/UIM Cover?
UM/UIM insurance will cover you if you are in an accident, and the other driver is at fault. Uninsured motorist insurance will cover the full amount of your losses up to your policy’s limits. It will also cover you if a hit-and-run driver causes your crash, and neither you nor the police can find and identify the driver. Underinsured motorist insurance will cover the difference between what the at-fault driver’s liability insurance covers and the total amount of your injury-related damages – again, up to your policy’s limits. Your UM/UIM policy may also cover you if a driver hits you while you are on a bicycle or out walking.
In addition to knowing what UM and UIM insurance will cover, it’s also important to understand who it covers beyond yourself (assuming you are the named insured driver). Generally, it will also cover all relatives living in your home if they are in an accident, including your spouse, children and stepchildren. If you allow someone else to drive your car, they will also be covered. Finally, it will cover any passengers in your vehicle.
How Much UM/UIM Coverage Do You Need?
Similar to many other states, Georgia law requires insurers to provide UM/UIM in amounts that match the amount which the driver has purchased in liability. Depending on your insurance company, you may also have the option to increase both your liability and UM/UIM limits so you have even more protection.
It’s also important to know that in Georgia, two different types of UM and UIM insurance exist:
- Traditional (non-stacking) insurance – People also call this type of insurance “reduction” coverage. If you have non-stacking insurance, you can file a claim only if the amount of your UM/UIM exceeds the policy limits of the at-fault driver. For example, a driver hits you and carries the required $25,000 in liability insurance. You also carry the minimum of $25,000 in UM/UIM insurance. Subtracting your insurance from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance equals zero. So, you cannot tap into your own insurance. This is true even if $25,000 is not enough to cover the cost of your injuries. However, if you carried $50,000 in UM/UIM, you would then still have $25,000 from your own policy available.
- New (stacking) insurance – This is also known as “add-on” or “excess” coverage. Stacked insurance will always be available to you, regardless of how much liability insurance the other driver carries. Using the above example, if an at-fault driver hit you and had $25,000 in liability insurance, and you carried $50,000 in UM/UIM, you would have $75,000 of coverage available to you.
How Can a Georgia UM/UIM Lawyer Help You?
You can face scary and uncertain times after a car accident in Georgia – especially if the at-fault driver lacks insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to fully cover your medical bills, lost income and other accident-related damages. This is why you should have UM/UIM coverage. The higher your UM/UIM limits, the more protection you will have if you should ever get injured in a crash.
Filing insurance claims and dealing with insurance company representatives can be highly confusing and frustrating – even when it’s your own insurer. Insurance companies, after all, are out to protect their profits and care very little about your own rights, interests and future. This is why you should seek help from an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash in Atlanta or anywhere else in Georgia.
At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, we will review all relevant insurance policies and fully explain what coverage is available to you. While you focus on your health and family, we will deal with the insurance company and aggressively pursue all compensation you are due. We bring to our clients more than 40 years of experience and a record that includes more than $150 million secured in verdicts and settlements. Your initial consultation is always free. Contact us today to get started.
Kevin Adamson is a former college baseball player who brings a competitive spirit to personal injury trials and settlement negotiations. Kevin played baseball at LaGrange College and went on to earn his MBA from Lynchburg College and his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Since 2001, he has focused on personal injury law and secured numerous six- and seven-figure results for his clients. He is also a registered arbitrator and mediator with extensive experience handling contract negotiations for a variety of professional services, including athletic contracts. Kevin also owns his own airplane and makes frequent use of it for his law practice, which has taken him to 18 states.