Automobile insurance policies are confusing to most people. However, it is very important to understand the type of coverage you are required to have under Georgia law and whether this is sufficient to protect your loved ones and you in the event that you are involved in an automobile accident. Your decisions on what types of insurance coverage to have and the amount of coverage to purchase could have a major impact on your life if you are injured in a crash. Here, we discuss Georgia’s laws on what automobile insurance coverage you must have if you drive a motor vehicle in our state and why this may be completely inadequate to protect you.
Georgia Is an At-Fault Insurance State
In considering insurance policy options, you need to know what happens if you are involved in a car wreck—whether another driver or you caused it. Georgia is a fault insurance state when dealing with liability issues and insurance coverage after a traffic accident. This means that the negligent driver is responsible for paying the property damage and personal injuries caused by the crash. An injured victim would turn to the other driver’s insurance company to cover his liability. If you were injured in a crash, you would have three options for obtaining the compensation you deserve:
- File a claim with your own insurance company, at least for your property damage claim. Your insurance company would then pursue reimbursement from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
- File a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company.
- File a lawsuit against the negligent driver if you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company for the full value of your claim.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you decide which option would be best for you.
What Is the Minimum Automobile Insurance Coverage Motorists Are Required to Purchase in Georgia?
In Georgia, a driver is only required to have two types of automobile insurance coverage: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. If a driver causes an accident, these liability insurance coverages will pay the victims. The minimum insurance liability coverage a driver is required to have includes the following:
- Bodily Injury. $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in a single accident.
- Property Damage. $25,000 to cover property damages, such as vehicles, buildings, homes, other structures, or objects in a single accident.
Does Georgia’s Minimum Insurance Coverage Really Protect You?
Unfortunately, Georgia’s minimum liability insurance requirements do not adequately protect you whether you caused the crash or were the victim of it. The bodily injury limit of $25,000 for a person’s injuries or his death could be a drop in the bucket in terms of what you could owe if you were the negligent driver. Even if the other driver suffered “mild” back, neck, or shoulder soft tissue injuries, he could need months of physical therapy and pain medications. If these conservative treatments did not work, surgery could be required. These costs could well exceed $25,000 in your bodily injury coverage and leaves no money for the lost wages and pain and suffering portions of his claim that you would be responsible for.
Even the $25,000 property damage amount could be insufficient. If the driver’s vehicle was totaled, his property damage claim could exceed your $25,000 coverage—especially given the expensive cost of most motor vehicles. You would also owe his car rental fees and reimbursement for any other property that you damaged.
If you are the victim of an accident and the other driver only purchased the minimum required insurance, you could also not be fully compensated for your injuries and property damage. The negligent driver’s insurance company would only be responsible for paying up to the policy limits. This most likely would be far less than what you could need to pay your mounting medical bills and to replace your lost wages. Purchasing additional insurance is essential to protect you.
Optional Insurance Coverage You Should Consider Purchasing
When deciding on what automobile insurance coverage to purchase, the cost should not be your only consideration. You want to be protected if you are the victim or the cause of a crash, so that you do not owe the other driver any money and are fully compensated if a loved one or you are injured. Consider these options when deciding on your insurance policy:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability. You want to increase the amount of coverage for bodily injury and property liability coverage to protect yourself if you cause a crash.
- MedPay. This is an optional insurance that would pay your medical expenses—even if you are at fault in causing the accident.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. This is crucial optional insurance you can purchase to pay your bodily injury claim if the other driver had no required automobile insurance—more common than you may think.
- Underinsured motorist coverage. This is another vital optional insurance coverage you should purchase. If the negligent driver has bodily injury insurance, but it is insufficient to fully compensate you, you could also file a claim for compensation under your underinsured motorist coverage.
- Collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance coverage would pay for your car repairs, car rental fees, and similar expenses. Comprehensive coverage could pay for your damages if your automobile is stolen or is burned in a fire.
Do you have questions about your automobile insurance policy or the coverage you should have? Do you need to file a claim under the negligent driver’s or your own insurance policy after an accident? David Brauns is here to answer your questions and help you file your claim. Start an online chat or call our office at (404) 998-5252 to schedule your FREE consultation.