Is the Minimum Enough?

In Georgia, drivers are required to maintain automobile liability insurance coverage in exchange for the privilege of driving on Georgia’s public roads and highways.  The Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s Office defines liability insurance as “insurance that pays damages to others, on behalf of an insured, for injury to or damaged property of others, up to the policy limit, which an insured may have caused by his negligence.”

Georgia requires that drivers obtain automobile insurance with minimum coverage limits of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per occurrence for bodily injury and $25,000.00 per occurrence for property damage. So, a Georgia driver is legally required to carry only $25,000.00 of insurance for injuries to another person caused by the driver’s negligence.  Some other states, such as Arizona and California, require considerably less coverage.

Even though Georgia has higher minimum coverage limits than some states, the minimum is often not enough. The problem is that damages stemming from collision-related injuries regularly exceed $25,000.00.  If a person injured in a collision requires emergency medical attention, hospitalization, or lengthy treatment, the medical expenses alone will likely exceed minimum coverage limits by a large margin.  The result is that the injured person does not receive full compensation for his or her medical expenses, let alone compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages caused by the collision.  This problem becomes even worse if the at-fault driver ignored the law and carried no liability insurance coverage at all.

Uninsured / underinsured (UM) motorist coverage is a means to mitigate the risk presented by drivers who either have no insurance or low limits of liability coverage.  UM coverage acts as a supplement to an at-fault driver’s liability coverage.  There are two types of UM coverage – Traditional and “Added-On.”  Under a Traditional UM policy, the amount of available liability coverage is deducted from the UM limits of coverage.  So, if an at-fault driver had the minimum coverage of $25,000.00 per person, an injured person with a $50,000.00 Traditional UM policy would have only $25,000.00 in available UM coverage.  But, if the injured person had an “Added-On” UM policy, he or she would have the full $50,000.00 in available UM coverage.

Responsible Georgia drivers who carry more liability coverage than the law requires cannot assume that other drivers on the road have done the same.  For this reason, Georgia drivers are well-advised to carry UM coverage to safeguard themselves against drivers with insufficient liability insurance or no insurance at all.  Though Georgia drivers are not required to carry UM coverage, insurance companies in Georgia are required to offer it to consumers.  Insurance customers can reject UM coverage, but doing so subjects them to the risks posed by uninsured or underinsured drivers.

An experienced personal injury attorney can assist with resolving claims against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company and the injured person’s uninsured / underinsured insurance company.  If and when an unfortunate traffic collision occurs, contacting an experienced injury attorney is a good first step to ensuring that an injured person receives maximum compensation from all available sources.

2018-02-27T11:47:56+00:00