Why You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in AtlantaMichael Hoffer
Imagine you were injured in a car accident. You have significant medical costs, and the other driver was at fault.
If your case goes to court, your lawyer’s job is to find as much insurance money for you as possible. Since the other driver caused the accident, it’s their insurance that should pay the bill.
But what if that driver doesn’t have enough coverage to pay your medical bills?
What if they have no coverage at all?
It’s a surprisingly common scenario. And we’ve seen up close how financially devastating it can be for clients involved in a car accident.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured (or Underinsured) Motorist Coverage (UM / UIM) is supposed to protect you in this situation. And it often is surprisingly affordable.
It covers you if you’re involved in an accident, you weren’t at fault, and the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay your damages.
In Georgia, your insurer has to offer this type of insurance and your liability policy will automatically include it unless you reject it in writing. The automatic limits will be the same as your liability limits, so if you have $25,000 in liability, you also get $25,000 in UM / UIM insurance (unless you select a different amount).
However, this type of insurance is optional and it’s not uncommon for people to reject it to keep their premiums down.
How Common are Uninsured / Underinsured Drivers?
Unfortunately, it’s more common than you might think.
If you drive in Georgia, you’re legally required to carry liability insurance that covers damages or injury to other people in an accident you caused. The limits, however, are only $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage.
This means that if you were injured in a car wreck with the other driver at fault, and that driver has only the minimum required insurance, you could get only $25,000 from their insurance. Healthcare costs for all but the least serious injuries easily can exceed that, but many drivers only carry enough coverage to stay legal.
And on top of that, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s most recent numbers, approximately 12% of Georgia drivers – a little more than one in eight – have no insurance at all.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
Let’s say you get rear-ended by another driver. You hurt your neck badly, you need surgery, and your neck surgery costs $50,000. But the driver who rear-ended you only has $25,000 in coverage.
If you don’t have UM/UIM insurance, you could be held responsible for the other $25,000 in medical bills. If the other driver has no insurance at all, you might get stuck with the entire bill. You may be able to find coverage for some of the costs through other types of insurance you have—such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), MedPay or health insurance. However, these often don’t cover everything in these scenarios.
If, however, you have UM/UIM insurance, that insurance will be in play.
Reduced-By vs. Add-On
When you’re buying UM / UIM insurance, you may be asked to choose between reduced-by and add-on coverage. We strongly suggest you go with add-on.
Let’s say another driver T-bones your car at an intersection, and you have significant medical costs. You have $100,000 in UM / UIM motorist coverage and the other driver has the minimum $25,000 in injury liability.
With reduced-by coverage, your $100,000 in benefits are “reduced by” the amount provided by the at-fault driver. Since that driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, , you only get $75,000 in UM / UIM benefits.
With add-on coverage, it’s the opposite. You have $100,000 in UM / UIM benefits, and the other driver has $25,000 in liability. Your $100,000 UM / UIM coverage is added onto the other driver’s $25,000. This results in $125,000 in coverage to protect you.
Chamblee Auto Accident and Insurance Legal Specialist
You can’t control what other people do. But you can control how prepared you are if the worst happens.
If you were in an auto accident, we can help you get every dollar you’re entitled to. Call us at (404) 260-6330 or email us at email@example.com for a free, confidential consultation today. We can help you.