When you are deciding to purchase automobile insurance coverage, the cost of the insurance premiums may be your primary concern. While saving money is important, you would be making a big mistake to base your decision only on this consideration. You want to be certain you have enough insurance coverage to protect you and your family if you are injured in a car accident.
You may be wondering why you need to purchase any optional insurance coverage if a negligent driver was at fault in causing your wreck. The reality is that if you have not purchased optional insurance coverages, you may not receive the full compensation you deserve if the other driver has the minimum amount of insurance coverage—or no insurance at all.
Why You Want to Increase Your Automobile Liability Coverage
In Georgia, drivers are only required to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability coverages to protect themselves if they cause a motor vehicle accident. The minimum bodily injury liability amount required is $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in an accident. This insurance coverage is to pay for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The minimum property damage liability coverage is $25,000 and would cover any damages to the victim’s vehicle, property in the vehicle, or structures damaged in a crash.
Your insurance company is only required to pay a claim up to the amount of insurance coverage you paid for. Unfortunately, $25,000 in bodily injury coverage does little to cover the medical expenses a victim of a car accident could incur even if he suffered “minor” injuries such as whiplash or shoulder, neck, and back injuries.
In addition, buying the minimum amount of property damage liability insurance coverage could be insufficient. Given the high cost of many newer vehicles, the value of the claim could be well beyond $25,000 if the vehicle was totaled. You could also be responsible for compensating them for expensive electronics in their vehicle and for property damage to a structure if you hit a house, street sign, or other property in the crash. To protect yourself, you want to purchase at least this amount of liability coverage:
- $100,000 per person and $300,000 for more than one person in bodily injury liability coverage
- $50,000 in property damage liability coverage
How Purchasing MedPay Can Help Pay Your Medical Expenses
MedPay, which is also known as Medical Expense Benefit, would pay your medical expenses caused by an automobile crash. You are not required to purchase it under Georgia law. However, if you suffer any type of injury that requires follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, surgery, or hospitalization, you could incur tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills or more—well beyond the minimum of $25,000 in insurance coverage the negligent driver may have to compensate you.
You may want to purchase at least $10,000 or more in MedPay coverage. Here are some reasons why:
- MedPay coverage will pay your medical bills no matter who was at fault in causing the crash.
- If you have other health insurance coverage, you can use your MedPay to pay your co-pays and co-insurance amounts.
- If you have no other health insurance or a policy with poor coverage, you want to purchase additional MedPay coverage. It is like a cheap form of health insurance if you are involved in a wreck.
- If your medical bills exceed your health insurance coverage amounts and MedPay coverage, you may be responsible for paying out-of-pocket if the negligent driver did not have sufficient insurance or you were the at-fault driver.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: The Most Important Insurance Coverages to Purchase
While you are not required to purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it is one of the most essential additional insurance coverages to purchase. Uninsured coverage covers your claim if the other driver has no insurance. While it is illegal for drivers not to have at least the minimum bodily injury and property damage liability insurance policy, many motorists drive without having any insurance. You still have the option of suing the negligent driver, but it is unlikely he would have sufficient money or other assets to pay you much. Uninsured motorist coverage would pay your claim in this situation.
Underinsured motorist coverage protects you when the negligent driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. You would file a claim with your own insurance company for the amount you are entitled to—including for pain and suffering—that was not paid by the negligent driver’s insurance company. If you purchase add-on coverage, your underinsured coverage will pay you on top of whatever the negligent driver’s insurance company pays.
You should purchase $100,000/$300,000 of each optional insurance coverage. Both would compensate you whether you were the driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist. They are no-fault coverages, which means that your rates should not go up if you file a claim.
While you may initially save money by not buying these coverages, they can help protect you if you are in a car accident. For example, if the negligent driver only had $25,000 in liability coverage, you could increase the amount of compensation you receive to $125,000 by buying the recommended amount of underinsured motorist coverage. Your own insurance company would be the primary one compensating you in this scenario.
Collision, Comprehensive, and Car Rental Insurance
While you do not have to purchase many of these insurance coverages under Georgia law, your vehicle loan lender will most likely require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage would pay to repair the damage to your car or to compensate you if it was totaled. Comprehensive insurance pays if your vehicle is stolen, or damaged by fire, hail, flooding, or other covered peril. When you need to rent a vehicle while yours is in the shop being repaired after a crash, car rental insurance would pay these fees. If possible, you want to buy all of these optional insurance coverages.
Purchasing the right insurance coverage is an important decision. If you have questions about the coverage you need to protect yourself or need to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or your own insurance company, call Brauns Law to get your questions answered and learn how we can help you.