Georgia is a “fault” state, meaning that the driver who is typically responsible for an automobile accident is liable for all damages and injuries. You probably know that the state of Georgia requires certain minimum coverage. But, if you’re like most Georgians, you may not fully understand how automobile insurance works in the state and how different coverages work together to help ensure that everyone is protected.
That knowledge is important. While you may believe that you’re protected as long as you have the mandatory coverage, it doesn’t always work out that way. Understanding Georgia motor vehicle insurance will help you to make the right decisions about the coverage you purchase, and to ensure that you claim the benefits available to you if you are in an accident.
This post provides a high-level overview of the types of insurance in Georgia, which are required, and what protection they offer. Later posts in this series will expand on specific types of coverage in more detail.
Types of Georgia Automobile Insurance
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: If you injure or kill someone in a motor vehicle accident and are legally liable for their medical expenses and other damages, bodily injury liability insurance covers those expenses–up to the policy limits. In Georgia, you are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury liability for a single person who is injured or killed in the accident and $50,000 for two or more people.
There are two important things to know about bodily injury liability. First, the minimum coverages of $25,000 and $50,000 satisfy the legal requirement, but may not be sufficient to cover damages after a serious car accident. That means you could be personally on the hook for the remainder.
Second, you should be aware that liability insurance is solely to cover your responsibility to others. It won’t pay your medical bills if you’re hurt in the accident.
Property Damage Liability Coverage: Like bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability insurance covers your responsibility to someone else whose vehicle or other property you damage in a collision. Georgia requires that you carry at least $25,000 in property damage liability insurance.
MedPay: MedPay is optional and covers certain expenses regardless of fault. The coverage is strictly limited to medical expenses. However, coverage also extends to passengers in your vehicle.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM): UM/UIM insurance is not mandatory in Georgia, but it is very important coverage. UM can cover your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and more, if you are injured in a car accident and the responsible driver doesn’t have automobile insurance. UIM can also supplement the damages you receive from a driver whose insurance was insufficient to compensate you for your losses.
For most people, purchasing UM/UIM is a good choice. Be careful comparing policies, though. Some uninsured motorist policies allow “stacking” and others do not. A policy that doesn’t allow stacking will typically be less expensive. But, part or all of your coverage can be canceled out by the coverage the responsible driver had.
Understanding Your Insurance Coverage
Choosing the right insurance to protect you and your family is just the first step. Too often, people miss out on benefits because they don’t understand their own coverage or don’t file a claim within the time allowed. When you’re choosing insurance, don’t just default to the state minimums or accept the recommendation of the broker and forget about it. Take the time to understand what protection each coverage offers, determine how much coverage you need in each category, and then keep your policy handy.
If you’ve been in an accident, whether or not you were at fault, consult your insurance documents to determine whether you’re required to notify your insurer, whether you have coverage that could pay benefits, and what is required to claim those benefits.
If you’ve been injured through someone else’s fault, you should also educate yourself about your legal rights as soon as possible. Insurance companies don’t always play fair, and it’s in their best interests to keep your compensation low. Get reliable information from someone who’s on your side.
Atlanta attorney ReShea Balams fights for maximum compensation for people who have been injured through someone else’s negligence, including victims of car accidents, truck accidents, and pedestrians and bicyclists who have been hit by cars. The Balams Firm offers free, no-obligation consultations so injury victims can gather the information they need to make good decisions in difficult times. You can schedule yours right now by calling 855-352-2727 or filling out the contact form on this page.