We have represented thousands of people who were injured in car wrecks, and unfortunately, we have seen numerous people who thought they had full coverage, only to find out they were not properly insured. It is crucial to have the proper coverage whether you cause an accident or if you are the victim of another driver’s negligence. We all make mistakes so we all must carry liability coverage, which pays for the property damage and injury claims when you are at fault in an accident.
Under Georgia Law, we all must have a minimum of $25,000 per person liability coverage for injury claims. However, with the rising costs of medical care, even a routine injury claim can exceed that limit. Moreover, a $25K policy will typically have a total limit of only $50,000 for all combined claims, so if you cause multiple injuries it increases the chances that your insurance policy won’t pay off all of the claims.
If you cause an injury to others and don’t have enough coverage your personal assets and income may be at risk, so we recommend a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence for liability coverage. If it’s within your budget, consider an umbrella and/or excess coverage policy with $1,000,000.00 limits.
It is equally important to carry enough UM coverage, which covers Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Claims. According to recent reports, there are thousands of uninsured motorists on the roads of Georgia every day. If you or a member of your family is injured by an uninsured driver this coverage will pay for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain & suffering. Likewise this protects you if the at-fault driver does not have enough liability coverage. There was an important change to Georgia’s UM laws which took effect in 2009. You now must elect whether to have “stackable” or “non-stackable” UM coverage. Some companies use the term “added on UM coverage”. If you want the most protection for your family you should always choose the added on or stackable UM coverage. If you are injured due to an under-insured driver, this allows you to add the full amount of your UM policy to the liability policy of the at-fault driver.
If you do not have stackable or added on the coverage you must deduct the liability coverage from your UM coverage to determine the maximum amount of coverage: For example, let’s assume you get in an accident caused by a driver with $25,000 of liability coverage, and you have a UM policy of $100,000.00. With a stackable/added on UM policy, the total coverage is $125,000; without the stackable/added on coverage the total is only $100,000. Please note that if you had only $25,000 of non-stackable UM coverage in the above example, you would have no UM coverage at all because of the liability set off. We recommend that you carry at least $100,000 per person of stackable/ added on UM coverage on every vehicle. UM is one of the most affordable types of coverage you can purchase, and it can be used anytime you are injured by an uninsured (or under-insured) motorist, even if you are not in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
One word of caution: if you have to file a UM claim against your own insurer, your insurance company will hire an attorney to defend the other driver, so it is crucial to seek the advice of an attorney with experience handling these cases.
Other types of coverage that we recommend include Medical Payments Coverage which will pay medical expenses for all occupants of your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. We recommend at least $10,000 of coverage. You can also get coverage for lost income and wages to maintain your income while your claim is still pending with the liability or UM carrier. If you are concerned that you may not have enough insurance you should review your policy and call your agent immediately.