Uninsured Motorist Claims in the State of Georgia


June 28, 2017

In the State of Georgia, all resident drivers are required to minimum liability insurance to be allowed to drive legally. The minimum amount of insurance every driver must carry in Georgia is at least $25,000 per person in each accident and $50,000 total per accident. This mandatory amount of basic insurance covers personal injuries and property damage that a driver causes someone else to suffer up to the limited proscribed in the policy.

In the State of Georgia, all resident drivers are required to minimum liability insurance to be allowed to drive legally. The minimum amount of insurance every driver must carry in Georgia is at least $25,000 per person in each accident and $50,000 total per accident. This mandatory amount of basic insurance covers personal injuries and property damage that a driver causes someone else to suffer up to the limited proscribed in the policy.

Unfortunately, too many Georgia drivers ignore their requirement to carry automobile insurance and drive without it at all, some because they chose not to obey the law, others because they are considered risky drivers, having lots of speeding tickets or prior accidents and cannot afford the expensive premiums that insurance companies charge.   Many others buy only the minimum amount of coverage and take the risk of not having sufficient insurance to pay for injuries and damages they might cause.

Moreover, there are thousands of out-of-state drivers passing through Georgia every day who also may not have any insurance or who carry only minimal insurance required by their state of residence. Like Georgia, every state regulates whether and how much automobile insurance its residents must be maintained.  However, unlike Georgia, some do not mandate that its resident drivers purchase automobile liability insurance.

Any driver, whether a resident of Georgia or one from out-of-state, who does not have any insurance or who carries only the minimal amount puts other drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk of not having to pay out-of-pocket the costs of overwhelming medical bills or other losses.

Georgia is among many states that have taken steps to protect its residents from the devastating consequences of being the victim of an uninsured or underinsured driver by enacting laws allowing drivers to purchase “uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage” through their own automobile liability policies.  See O.C.G.A. 33-7-11.

What is Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) Coverage?

Uninsured Motorist coverage is an addendum to a standard automobile policy that protects the policy holder whenever the other driver has no coverage at all. Underinsured Motorist coverage is another clause in an automobile policy that protects the policy holder whenever the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage to pay for all damages he/she causes. In general, a policy holder’s underinsured motorist coverage will compensate anyone not-at-fault for the remainder of the total damages sustained after the other driver’s insurance coverage has been exhausted. There are instances where the coverage is even greater.

Georgia’s Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance

UM coverage is issued by a driver’s own insurance company as additional or supplemental coverage. The policy holder pays an extra premium for UM coverage. Insurance companies are obligated to offer their Georgia policy holders UM coverage at the time they are purchasing liability insurance. If a driver purchasing an automobile liability policy elects not to purchase UM coverage, he must refuse it in writing.  

Are There Different Kinds of UM Coverage?

There are two kinds of UM insurance coverage that a policy holder can buy:

  1. Excess or added-on coverage
  2. Traditional or reduced coverage

Excess or added-on coverage allows the policy holder to collect from his own insurer whatever amount of UM insurance coverage he/she purchased as well as the at-fault driver’s insurance. Traditional or reduced coverage will pay only the difference between the UM coverage the policy holder purchased after the at-fault driver’s insurance is exhausted. The option to buy either type is up to the policy holder. In Georgia, unless the policy holder specifically elects traditional or reduced coverage, the default selection will be added-on coverage. See O.C.G.A. §33-7-11 (b)(1)(D)(2)(II). Still, it is recommended that Georgia residents expressly select added-on UM coverage rather than reduced UM coverage.

The insurance company cannot cancel UM coverage unless the policy holder has three or more ot-at-fault accidents or UM claims in the preceding 36 months.

What Is Covered Under a UM Clause?

The scope of what is covered is defined in the policy itself. In general, uninsured motorist coverage will compensate the policy holder for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and disfigurement, and loss of future earning capacity.  If the policy holder is a passenger in his or someone else’s automobile, he/she is covered under his own UM policy.  If the policy holder is struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian, his/her UM coverage will apply, again if the other driver had no coverage or leaves the scene.

Often, property a policy holder’s uninsured motorist policy may not compensate policy holders for damage to his/her own car or punitive damages.

When Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Kick In?

The insurance company that issues a policy with UM coverage pays only if an accident is caused by another driver and only if that driver has no insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover the damages.

How And When Must A UM Policy Holder Make a Claim?

In Georgia, a UM policy holder must put his/her UM insurance carrier on notice as soon as possible after the accident.  Failure to do so in a timely manner could void UM coverage.  The notice deadlines to file UM claims will depend on each individual policy document.  And, as with all insurance coverage, the policy holder must comply with the insurance company’s requests for cooperation and recorded statements.

Contact Montlick and Associates, Attorneys At Law

Filing a UM claim can be complicated and requires a careful adherence to the policy. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured, underinsured, or hit and run driver, you should contact a lawyer at Montlick & Associates as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights as well as what steps are necessary to protect your rights.  Hiring a competent car accident attorney can be a critical step to protecting yourself and possibly recovering compensation. The lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law can help. Our firm has over 33 years of experience representing care accident victims across Georgia and the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour-Live Online Chat.

Sources: http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-33/chapter-7/33-7-11 and https://www.montlick.com/montlick-blog/auto-accidents/131-georgia-uninsured-motorist-a-underinsured-motorist-coverage-frequently-asked-questions

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.