Georgia drivers are required to carry certain amounts of automobile liability insurance. Insurance is designed to cover bodily injury and property damage in the event of an accident. It serves as an important protection for drivers and injured parties alike, and ensures victims are made whole. The first step after an accident is always to seek coverage through the other driver’s insurance. Unfortunately, of course, not everyone obeys the law by maintaining adequate coverage. However, uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance policies are available for you to address this problem.
First, you should know the minimum amounts of automobile insurance coverage required by Georgia law. Drivers must carry liability coverage of at least the following amounts:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
It’s important to remember that these are minimum amounts. Apart from the fact that many drivers carry no insurance at all, many don’t carry enough. There are numerous situations where it’s vital to have uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These are some common examples:
The other driver has no insurance. If you’re in an accident with an uninsured, at-fault driver, that individual has no policy to cover you. UM coverage allows for your insurance to pay for medical bills and damage to your vehicle.
The other driver doesn’t have enough insurance. This is where UIM (rather than UM) coverage may kick in. Check with your insurance provider to ensure you have a UIM policy. UIM coverage may pay for damages that exceed the limits of the other driver’s policy.
A pedestrian or cyclist struck by a vehicle. If you’re a pedestrian or cyclist hit by an uninsured motorist, UM insurance can cover medical bills and lost wages.
A passenger in another vehicle. UM coverage may pay for you and your family members as passengers in another car hit by an uninsured driver.
Hit-and-run accident. Your UM policy can cover you if you’re struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Insurance companies in Georgia are required to offer uninsured and uninsured motorist coverage to drivers. In fact, you have to reject such coverage in writing, which means you likely have it. Your policy should cover you and the following individuals:
- Your spouse, if he or she resides in the same household
- Your and your spouse’s relatives (children and step-children) who reside in your household
- Anyone using your insured vehicle with your consent
- A passenger riding with you in your insured vehicle
There are two types of UM and UIM coverage in Georgia:
Non-stacking (also known as traditional or reduced): This is only available where your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage exceeds the at-fault driver’s liability limits. The amount of UM/UIM coverage available to you is offset, or “reduced,” by the other driver’s liability insurance. Let’s say you have $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage, and the at-fault driver had $25,000 in liability coverage. You would subtract the other driver’s $25,000 from your $25,000 and have nothing available under your UM/UIM policy. Even if your medical or other bills exceed $25,000, you cannot use your non-stacking UM/UIM coverage.
But if you had $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage, you would have $75,000 ($100,000 – $25,000) available. A higher coverage amount accounts for drivers who carry minimum insurance. Your policy would still cover you if the driver had no insurance at all.
Stacking (also known as excess or add-on): As the name implies, you can “stack” your coverage on top of the at-fault driver’s. Using the first scenario above, you could add your $25,000 UM/UIM policy to the other driver’s $25,000 policy for $50,000.
Speak with your insurance carrier, or an attorney, about the amount and type of coverage that’s best for you.
AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CAN HELP
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects you from drivers who violate Georgia insurance laws. Even if the at-fault driver is covered, receiving compensation for your injuries can be challenging. The automobile accident attorneys at Schneider Hammers can handle the insurance companies and fight for the payments you deserve. Call us today.