The State of Georgia requires automobile owners to carry “minimum” auto insurance policies. The first is liability insurance totaling $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per occurrence for bodily injury and $25,000.00 per occurrence for property damage. This kind of insurance is “liability only,” meaning that the amounts available under your policy would be paid to other people when you cause a collision on the roadway. If the collision was not your fault, or you were just a passenger, any liability coverage you carry will not be paid out to you.
Many people experience shock after a collision when they find out their “minimum” coverage only provides payment to other people after a collision they didn’t cause. In order to have more coverage, you will have to pay a higher premium to your insurance company but some benefits may be worth far more than the premiums.
The first addition to your insurance should be a policy for “medical payments” or “medpay.” A medpay policy can range from as little as $1,000.00 all the way up to $100,000.00 at some insurance companies. Medpay is very useful if you have been injured in an auto collision. Your insurance company will pay out medpay funds to you to reimburse medical expenses regardless of whether you caused the collision or not. These funds are only paid out to people who are on the named policy or are covered under other terms such as a resident relative. Medpay funds are often a great source of relief for those who suddenly have no car, can’t work due to their injuries, and have growing medical bills. Additionally, most medpay policies in Georgia do not require you to pay back the medpay funds as it is considered a return of the premiums you paid in the past. This means that any future settlement from the at-fault driver would not be reduced by any medpay funds you receive.
The next addition to your insurance should be “uninsured or underinsured” coverage, commonly referred to as “UM coverage”. UM coverage protects you in two specific situations. First, if someone injures you on the roadway, but has insufficient liability insurance (i.e. They carry the minimum of $25,000.00 but your medical bills are $35,000.00) your UM insurance of $25,000.00 would step in to cover the remaining $10,000.00 of your medical bills in addition to an amount for pain and suffering. It is important to note that for a reduced premium, some insurance companies will offer “off-set” UM coverage. Off-set coverage is UM coverage that reduces when the at-fault driver carries liability insurance. If you carried off-set UM coverage of $25,000.00 and the at-fault driver carried $25,000.00 in liability insurance, you would not be entitled to any of your set-off UM coverage as you would need to have a set-off UM policy that was greater than the person who hit you’s liability policy is. The more expensive UM coverage is called “add-on” for obvious reasons. Add-on UM coverage would simply tack onto whatever liability coverage the at-fault driver carried at the time.
The second situation is where you are injured on the roadway and the at-fault driver has no insurance. The full amount of your UM coverage would be available depending on the amount of your claim. Regardless of whether you have “set-off” or “add-on” UM coverage would not make a difference. The same amount listed on your policy would be the maximum payment your insurance company would make to you.
Next time you receive your insurance bill in the mail or email, check to see what kind of coverage is protecting you and your family. Check for the following items:
- Liability Coverage
- $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury
- $25,000 per occurrence for property damage
- Medpay/Medical Payments Coverage
- No-fault immediate payment for existing medical bills
- Underinsured/Uninsured UM Coverage
- No minimum required in Georgia
- Find out whether you are purchasing “set-off” or “add-on” UM coverage
For a free consultation regarding your insurance coverage or a personal injury claim disputing your insurance coverage call 404-445-8494 to schedule an appointment today.
Renée Morgan is a litigation attorney who has recovered millions for persons injured on the roadway and continues to provide comprehensive representation in both Civil and Criminal cases.