FAQ: Georgia Drivers and Auto Insurance Coverage
At Hudson King, our clients often ask us about automobile insurance coverage for themselves and their family members. They want to make sure that if something happens, on South Georgia’s roadways or otherwise, they will be protected. To help answer these questions, we reached out to friend-of-the-firm and experienced insurance agent Brian Atwater of Atwater Insurance. Below is a compilation of our most frequently asked questions and our advice along with Mr. Atwater’s advice as it relates to auto insurance:
What amount of auto insurance are you required to carry in Georgia?
The state of Georgia requires all vehicle owners to carry liability insurance on their vehicle. The minimum liability coverage you are required to carry is $25,000/person, $50,000/accident, and $25,000/property damage. Unfortunately, many drivers only carry these amounts, which are insufficient to cover any serious injury. As discussed below, it is extremely important to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
What level of auto insurance coverage do you recommend for the average Georgia driver?
It is a good idea to have an auto insurance policy that covers more than the state minimums. If you can afford it, it is recommended to carry a policy of at least $100,000/accident liability. Anyone with personal assets greater than $100,000, or who has a steady job, should carry more insurance. For most people, a good rule of thumb is to carry more insurance than the total of your personal assets.
What is uninsured motorist coverage, and why is it important? What is the difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if you are injured in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have liability insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage will protect you if you are injured in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are not enough to cover the property damage or medical expenses.
What is the difference between Reduced-By/Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Add-On/Excess Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Reduced coverage is reduced by the amount of coverage the other driver has. Add-on is stronger coverage; it means that you’ve have coverage above whatever the other driver has – whether it be no coverage at all or a $500,000 policy.
How much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage do you recommend for the average Georgia driver?
Georgia drivers should carry both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurer is required to provide uninsured and underinsured coverage in an amount equal to the liability insurance limits of your policy. So, for example, if your auto insurance policy provides coverage of $50,000/person and $100,000/accident, then your uninsured and underinsured coverage will be for those same amounts. If financially possible, it is recommended that drivers carry as much underinsured motorist coverage as possible. If you are the victim of a serious wreck, your damages will exceed $1 million. While it is not financially feasible for everyone to carry more than $1 million in underinsured motorist coverage, everyone should carry as much as they can. Also, adding extra underinsured motorist coverage often costs relatively little.
What is medical payments coverage?
Medical payments insurance, also known as MedPay, protects the driver – no matter who caused the accident. Medical payments coverage pays medical expenses for the driver and injured passengers. So, for example, if a driver carrying a $10,000 MedPay policy is involved in an accident, their policy will pay as much as $10,000 toward the medical bills of the injured driver and any of their injured passengers. MedPay coverage is great for minor accidents; however, it rarely offers enough coverage to help in a serious wreck.
If a driver is shopping for new or additional auto insurance, what is something they should ask the insurance agent about?
Clients should ask about the financial strength of the insurance company. Look for companies with an A++ rating from Standard and Poor’s. These are the best, most financially-stable insurance companies. The lower the S&P rating, and the lower the financial strength of the insurance company – it is less likely that company may be willing to pay on your claim.
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All Georgia drivers should understand what their auto insurance actually covers and what items may be lacking from their policy. Carrying an adequate amount of coverage can bring peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones will be protected, if an accident were to occur.
If you have any additional questions about personal injury and auto insurance, please Contact Hudson King today at 229-396-5845.
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