This is the third post in a series on Georgia automobile insurance. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read them here:
When you think about recovering damages after a motor vehicle accident, you’re probably thinking about costs like medical bills and lost income during your recovery. Those losses can be significant, particularly after a serious injury. But, that doesn’t mean you can afford to overlook property damage. Even a relatively minor accident can result in serious damage to your vehicle. And, even relatively minor damage can be expensive to repair.
In Georgia, automobile insurance may pay for damage to your vehicle and other property in three different ways.
Property Damage Coverage Types
Property Damage Liability Coverage
Georgia drivers are required to carry property damage liability insurance, along with bodily injury liability coverage. Since Georgia is an at-fault state, the responsible driver and their insurance company will be the first place you look for repairs or replacement. However, the mandatory threshold is low: just $25,000 for all property damage caused in a single incident. Some drivers opt to purchase more liability insurance than the law requires, but many carry only the minimum.
Depending on the value of your vehicle, the extent of the damage, and whether other property was damaged in the collision, that $25,000 may not be sufficient to repair or replace your vehicle or other property that was lost or destroyed in the accident. And, of course, not every driver carries the required insurance.
That means you may have to rely on your own automobile insurance to supplement or cover your property losses.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in an automobile accident, and may also cover related expenses such as the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. This coverage is available even if the accident was your fault. But, collision coverage is optional in Georgia, and typically significantly increases the cost of auto insurance. Therefore, many people opt not to purchase this coverage.
Whether or not it makes sense to purchase collision coverage depends on a variety of factors, including the value of your car.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Property Damage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) was explained in greater detail in the second post in this series. In a nutshell, it’s insurance coverage you purchase along with your liability coverage. It’s not mandatory, but you have to affirmatively opt out if you’re going to skip it.
This coverage fills the gap if you’re in a traffic crash and the responsible driver doesn’t have auto insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t sufficient to cover your losses. UM/UIM covers both bodily injury and property damage. If you purchase this coverage, it’s subject to the same minimums as liability coverage. You can buy more if you choose to, but you can’t buy more UM/UIM than you have liability insurance. In other words, you can’t purchase more protection for yourself than you do for others you may injure on the road.
UM/UIM for property damage isn’t as critical as the same coverage for bodily injury. That’s partly because Georgia drivers are required to carry $25,000 in property damage coverage. Even if that’s not sufficient to cover damage to or replacement of your vehicle, it’s typically sufficient to get you back on the road. But, if a driver isn’t insured at all or there is other property damage, your own coverage may mean the difference between being able to replace your vehicle and not.
And, there’s no tough call to make here. UM/UIM is a package deal, so if you purchase this coverage for bodily injury, you’ll have to purchase property damage coverage, as well. For most people, declining that coverage is a risky move. And, there’s no downside to making a UM/UIM claim under your own policy if the responsible driver doesn’t have adequate coverage. Under Georgia law, your carrier can’t raise your rates because of an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Atlanta attorney ReShea Balams fights for maximum compensation for people who have been injured through someone else’s negligence, including victims of motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice and more. 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.