Beyond the minimum auto insurance standards in Georgia that require purchasing liability coverage, you should consider adding several types of optional car insurance coverage to your policy that will provide greater protection if you ever are involved in an auto accident.
Georgia requires that all drivers carry at least the following coverages:
- Bodily Injury Liability – $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence.
- Property Damage Liability – $25,000 per occurrence.
This liability coverage pays for other people’s damages in the event that you are at fault. It will not, however, pay your or your passengers’ damages. Also, in the event that the other driver is at fault, liability coverage will not do you much good if he does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for the full extent of your damages. These are just some of the reasons why supplemental car insurance can be so important.
Below we discuss three auto insurance coverages that can provide a lot of protection for you and your family, without significantly increasing your premiums. For questions about insurance or auto accidents in Georgia, you are welcome to call our office and schedule a consult with Jason R. Schultz: 404-474-0804.
Optional Coverage #1: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The law requires that all drivers carry liability insurance to pay for others’ damages – but that certainly does not mean that all drivers actually obey.
Some drivers purposefully do not keep insurance because they lack the funds or have lost their licenses and are driving illegally, while others accidentally let their policy lapse. It is more common than you would think, too. Nearly 13 percent of drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council.
In any event, if you are in an accident that another driver caused – and that driver does not have insurance – you will wind up having to foot the bill for your damages yourself.
That is, unless you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. UM/UIM covers you and your family members not only when you are hurt in an accident with a negligent driver with no auto insurance, but also in hit-and-runs, as well as when the at-fault driver has an inadequate amount of coverage to pay for all of your damages.
After an accident, underinsured motorist coverage kicks in once the at-fault driver’s liability limits have been met. Your UIM coverage will take care of any remaining damages.
So, for example, if actual damages are $100,000 and the other driver only has $50,000 of liability insurance, your underinsured motorist coverage can cover the $50,000 difference between the other driver’s coverage and your actual damages.
Optional Coverage #2: Medical Payments
Another type of supplemental car insurance that all drivers should consider adding to their auto policy is medical payments coverage, also referred to as MedPay. Many times, it is the medical and hospital bills that are the biggest expenses a person faces after an accident. One notable benefit is that with this type of optional car insurance coverage, it does not matter who was at fault for the crash; it will pay for medical costs up to the limits of the policy.
Examples of medical costs that medical payments coverage may pay include:
- ambulatory services
- emergency room visit
- dental work
- follow-up doctor appointments
- imaging tests
The policy protects drivers, but if passengers are injured, your policy may cover their costs, too. Likewise, MedPay will compensate you in the event you are injured in an accident as a pedestrian.
Many policyholders do not include this coverage in their basic policy because they figure they can rely on their health insurance to pay their medical expenses after an accident.
However, even if you have health insurance, you might want to opt for the MedPay coverage, as MedPay has no copays or deductibles. Plus, there are a lot of types of services you may need that health insurance may not cover.
Optional Coverage #3: Collision & Comprehensive
Collision and comprehensive are two types of coverages that are usually optional. (If you are leasing or financing your car, the finance company will require that you carry it to protect its interest.)
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your car when you are at fault for an accident. This includes times when no other car is involved, such as when you accidentally hit a pole or other object.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car in non-accident situations, such as fire, weather damage, flooding, vandalism, and theft.
Because they can increase your premiums by 30 to 40 percent, you will want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of collision and comprehensive before you add them to your policy or before you nix them if you are already carrying them.
Generally, you do not need to keep this type of coverage on beater cars that have very little value.
“One rule of thumb for when to drop collision and comprehensive coverage is when the replacement value of the car is less than 10 times the annual premium you're paying for collision and comprehensive insurance,” explains the Wall Street Journal. So, if you have an older vehicle that is only worth $2,500 and collision/comprehensive will run you $300/year, you might want to forgo it.
Where can I find more information about auto insurance in Georgia?
Before making changes to your current policy, make sure to speak to your insurance agent about your particular needs and concerns. She can help you select coverages and limits that are right for you and within your budget.
Do not forget to shop around, too. Certain providers may be able to offer you similar policies at a lower premium. You can also download the Georgia Office of Commissioner of Insurance’s Consumer Guide for Automobile pamphlet that has a lot of helpful information.
If you need more info about how these coverages might take effect in the event of an accident, or if you or your loved one was recently in an accident in Georgia, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz for a free consultation: 404-474-0804.