Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance in Georgia

Car accident in Carrollton Georgia - Kia Optima with front end damage in Georgia
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What is uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance and why is it important to have in Georgia?  In Georgia, every individual driving a motor vehicle (excluding commercial vehicles like big rigs, which have different requirements) is required to carry automotive liability insurance.  The minimum requirements under Georgia law require the policy to have minimum coverage of

  • Bodily Injury Liability – $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident
  • Property Damage Liability – $25,000 per incident

This means that in any type of accident involving the covered driver, the insurance policy will only pay a maximum of $25,000 to any individual injured in the accident, with a maximum combined payout of $50,000 per accident.  Additionally, a minimum coverage auto insurance policy will also only pay for up to $25,000 in property damage (damage to another vehicle, building, etc.).  Many of the well known, as well as highly advertised, insurance providers issue these types of policies.

In Georgia, about 12% of drivers do not have liability insurance. Our neighbors, whose drivers come into Georgia every day are even worse. In Florida 26.7% of drivers are uninsured and in Alabama the figure is 18.4% drivers do not have auto insurance. 

Well what happens if you are in an auto accident where the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or the accident results in bodily injury or property damage that exceeds the coverage limits of the insurance policy?  This is where uninsured and underinsured auto insurance come into play.

What is Georgia Uninsured Auto Insurance?

Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is a type of auto insurance coverage designed to protect you if you're involved in an accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. In can also come in handy in other instances, such as hit-and-run accidents where the responsible driver cannot be identified.

Here are situations where uninsured motorist insurance comes into play:

  1. No Insurance or Inadequate Coverage: If you're in an accident caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance, or whose insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your costs, your own uninsured motorist insurance policy will step in to help cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.  The amount of coverage is dependent on the policy.
  2. Hit-and-Run Accidents: If you're involved in a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene and cannot be identified, uninsured motorist coverage can cover your expenses, just as if the other driver were uninsured.

What is Georgia Underinsured Auto Insurance?

Underinsured Motorist Coverage is often included as part of uninsured motorist coverage.  It's purpose is to kick in when an at-fault driver has insurance, but their coverage limit is lower than the costs you've incurred due to the accident. For example, say an at-fault driver has the minimum coverage required by Georgia law.  Following an accident, the victim has extensive medical treatment due to injuries suffered in the accident and accumulates medical bills of $50,000.   Without underinsured auto insurance, the victim will likely be limited to collecting a total of $25,000 from the at-fault drivers insurance company.  Unless the at-fault driver is independently wealthy, the odds of recovering the additional $25,000 in medical bills is very slim.

Your underinsured motorist coverage can fill in this gap.  If you have underinsured motorist coverage, then your insurance company would be responsible for paying the additional $25,000 for the medical bills resulting from the car accident.

Keep in mind that uninsured motorist coverage generally doesn't cover vehicle/property damage.  It is mainly designed to cover your medical expenses and other costs resulting from the accident.

Does Georgia Require Insurers Provide Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage?

Georgia law requires all automobile insurers operating in Georgia to offer uninsured motorist coverage to policyholders in the same amount as the liability coverage purchased.  Which as previously stated, is a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, and $25,000 for property damage.

That being said, an insured driver can opt out of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage being included in their policy.  This opt out has to be made in writing.

Should I notify my own car insurance if I am involved in a car accident that is not my fault?

You should always notify your own car insurance if you are involved in a car accident, even if it is not your fault and even if the at-fault driver has insurance.  In order to file a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist you are required to give the insurance company notice so they have time to investigate the accident.  The old adage "the sooner, the better" applies when giving notice to your uninsured/underinsured about a possible claim, as waiting too long could allow the insurance company to deny payment.

If you or a love one have been injured in an auto accident, give our experienced lawyers a call to discuss your legal options today at (770) 214-2500.

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