In Georgia, automobile insurance coverage is required for those who own a motor vehicle. Below are explanations about the various different coverage in an automobile insurance policy.
This coverage accounts for the majority amount of your monthly payment or insurance premium. This coverage exists to compensate the other driver(s) and the vehicle(s) they were driving for bodily injuries and property damage. The purpose of this coverage is to protect you from being personally responsible for paying their injuries and property damage. Under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3, the minimum amount of liability coverage must be
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in any motor vehicle crash.
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more persons in any motor vehicle crash.
- $25,000 for damage or destruction of property.
Technically, the minimum liability coverage does not protect you from the injured parties seeking amounts over your coverage limit so you may be responsible for amounts beyond the coverage limit if there is a judgment against you.
UNINSURED OR UNDER-INSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE (UM)
Unlike liability coverage, this coverage is designed to protect you if your injuries are beyond what the automobile insurance that covers the at-fault vehicle is less than your damages. There are two different types of UM coverage that are available to you.
- Traditional or Reducing UM.
- Add-on or Excess UM.
Traditional UM coverage amount is reduced by subtracting the liability coverage amount of the at-fault vehicle. In contrast, Add-on UM coverage amount stacks on top of the liability coverage amount of the at-fault vehicle.
Total coverage amount with traditional UM.
$25,000 liability + $100,000 traditional UM = $125,000 available coverage. But $100,000 traditional UM is reduced by $25,000 liability so only $75,000 traditional UM is truly available. New calculation is $25,000 liability + $75,000 traditional UM = $100,000 final available coverage.
Total coverage amount with add-on UM.
$25,000 liability + $100,000 add-on UM = $125,000 final available coverage. This is because add-on UM stacks on top of any liability coverage that is available.
MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE
This endorsement is also commonly known as "Med Pay." Regardless of fault, this section covers an insured person for medical and funeral expenses up to the Med Pay limit amount. Generally, this section contains language that states the insurer will pay reasonable expenses incurred for necessary medical and funeral services because of bodily injury caused by an accident or sustained by the insured person. Often, policies limit the time to make a Med Pay claim within three years from the date of injury as prescribed under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-2(1).
WHO IS COVERED?
Generally, persons named as an insured, resident spouse, any resident relative, and any other person legally occupying a covered motor vehicle.
WHAT ARE COVERED?
The covered motor vehicle must be an automobile. An automobile is typically recognized as a self-propelled vehicle that is primarily designed for use on highways and streets with the capacity to carry passengers or loads. See Horne v. Government Emp. Ins. Co., 132 Ga. App. 207, 207 S.E.2d 636 (1974). Some insurance companies extend Med Pay coverage to newly purchased automobiles, a temporary substitute automobile, or a non-owned automobile. See Lewis v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 247 Ga. App. 518, 544 S.E.2d 212 (2001).
Events that are covered under Med Pay are sometimes more broad than UM endorsements. Under O.C.G.A. § 33-7-9, Med Pay coverage is can be read to cover loss from any hazard or cause or expense arising from ownership, maintenance, or use of such vehicle. Generally, the covered or insured person being injured while occupying the insured vehicle is enough to be eligible for Med Pay.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE MED PAY?
Under O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6, payments must be made within 60 days after a demand.
Generally, this section covers the insured vehicle against damage such as impact with another vehicle or property. Most collision coverage endorsements gives the insurer the option to pay for the damage in money, repair the damaged vehicle, or replace it with other similar kind and quality property. Whichever option is chosen, the fair market value of your damaged vehicle plus the deductible amount must equal the fair market value of your vehicle before it was damaged. See Tuten v. First of Ga. Ins. Co., 117 Ga. App. 409, 160 S.E.2d 903 (1968).
Limitation of an insurer's selection of vehicle repair shop under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-6. This Georgia law prevents the insurer from forcing the claimant to repair the damaged vehicle to use a certain repair shop if the repairs can be done at the same cost somewhere else.
Exclusion of collision coverage.
- Unlicensed driver: If the vehicle is damaged while it was driven by a known driver without a license then the insurer may denied coverage as stated by the Georgia Court of Appeals in Southeastern Sec. Inc. Co. v. Empire Banking Co., 230 Ga. App. 755, 498 S.E.2d 282 (1998).
- Racing contest: policies that exclude collision coverage for vehicles damaged in an organized racing; speed or demolition contest; stunt activities; or practice for any such contest or activity has been upheld as a valid exclusionary section by the Georgia Court of Appeals in Progressive American Ins. Co. v. Horde, 259 Ga. App. 769, 577 S.E.2d 835 (2003).
Generally, this policy endorsement covers an insured vehicle from damage or loss by fire, lightning, falling objects, theft, larceny, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, water, flood, vandalism, malicious mischief, riot, civil commotion, or colliding with an animal. However, it excludes damage or loss because of wear and tear, freezing, mechanical failure, or electrical failure.