On a daily basis, Georgia motorists register for vehicle insurance with various insurance firms, and have to decide between a few extra policies, with different deductibles and limits. These policies can be combined with the standard liability coverage.
Most motorists realize why liability insurance is required to safeguard themselves, and anyone else who uses their car, from possible damages if they drive the vehicle dangerously and cause an accident. Nonetheless, lots of motorists either fail to grasp, or fail to accept, the significance of the extra coverages that can be added to their policies. The main extra coverages that are frequently overlooked are: UIM/UM (Underinsured and Uninsured) coverage, PIP (Personal Injury Protection); and MedPay (Medical Payments).
The wording on insurance policies is meant to be bewildering. Consequently, when an accident occurs, lots of motorists do not know precisely what their insurer will cover, and what their restrictions actually are.
Sometimes, motorists are appalled to discover that they are not insured for their accident, or the wounds they suffered, particularly if the motorist to blame did not have sufficient insurance.
UIM/UM (Underinsured and Uninsured) insurance cover pays for the damages you incur, if the motorist responsible for the crash you were wounded in has no insurance, or does not have enough insurance limitations to cover all your damages.
- Uninsured driver coverage — Applicable when you are in an accident caused by a hit and run or uninsured motorist. The policy will cover wounds suffered by you and your passengers.
- Underinsured driver coverage — Applicable when a motorist collides with you and is partly insured, but not sufficiently to pay for your medical fees. As with uninsured coverage, this covers wounds suffered by you and your passengers.
Uninsured drivers are not just motorists who lack insurance, they are motorists who depart the accident scene and motorists who use stolen vehicles. If you do not have this cover, and you are wounded in a car crash that you didn’t cause, you might have to pay for all your property damage and medical fees.
The way UIM/UM Works
Assume that you were wounded in a collision with an intoxicated motorist, who lacked up to date vehicle insurance. Who should pay for your medical fees? Typically, you could submit a claim to the ‘at fault’ motorist’s insurance firm, however because the intoxicated motorist who collided with your car had no insurance, you would not be able to obtain compensation from them.
The only thing you could do is to obtain compensation from your insurer, via your own UIM/UM driver policy.
The insurance laws in Georgia require insurance firms to provide UIM/UM insurance cover to every driver, however it is a non compulsory insurance policy that motorists are permitted to get rid of. If an insured motorist decides to decline this coverage, he has to submit a signed rejection form confirming this. This form just needs to be submitted once, and it will retain its’ validity until the motorist withdraws it.
Issues arise when someone is wounded in an accident and thinks that they have fully comprehensive vehicle insurance. If the motorist who crashed into them doesn’t have vehicle insurance, and the wounded person declined UM (Uninsured) coverage, there’s usually nowhere for the wounded motorist to recover. Instead, they might be left with a damaged vehicle and nobody to help fund medical fees.
- MedPay (Medical Payments) coverage is an optional insurance policy too. This covers the medical fees of an insured motorist and his passengers, following a motor car accident. MedPay will pay for these costs, irrespective of who’s fault the accident was. Usually, it covers insured motorists who are permissively operating someone else’s car, and insured people or their relatives who are wounded as pedestrians.
- PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage is needed in Georgia. This covers lost salary and medical fees, resulting from car accidents that insured people and their passengers are wounded in.
- PIP and MedPay are ‘no fault’ insurance policies, which payout to insured people irrespective of whether they caused an accident. MedPay works like PIP, with the exception that it covers medical fees instead of lost salary.
The Consequences of not Having UIM/UM
In Georgia, every motorist must have at least $25k in insurance to drive legally. However, $25k might not cover every medical expense, the lost work time, any long term injuries, or ongoing medical costs that will probably result from the injuries. Sometimes, even higher limits are not sufficient.
For instance: a motorist collides with you and you lose an arm as a result. A policy limit of $100k would be insufficient to pay for your medical fees, your lost income or possibly livelihood, and definitely not your lost arm.
The sensible thing to do is to talk to your insurance firm about raising your personal limit, and about obtaining extra coverage that would safeguard you, if the motorist you collide with lacks the insurance to cover your damages (UIM, or Underinsured Motorist), or if the motorist who crashes into you broke the law because he had no insurance at all (UM, or Uninsured Motorist), or to pay for your medical fees not covered by health insurance (MedPay).
If you don’t have UIM/UM insurance, you might be unable to recover the funds you require to pay all your medical fees, lost salary and rehabilitation. This could negatively impact your recovery and future plans, and could put you and your loved ones under avoidable financial pressure.
The Value of UIM/UM
In all likelihood, you will have noticed the option to include ‘Underinsured’ or ‘Uninsured’ coverage to your vehicle insurance plan. Did you ever wonder whether these additional coverage options were value for money — or whether you would require them at all?
Well, prior to opting out of a UIM/UM insurance policy, think about this: sixteen percent of motorists in Georgia have no insurance. Therefore, if you are involved in a vehicle accident in this state, there is a sixteen percent probability that the motorist to blame is uninsured.
It costs different amounts to add the extra coverage, based on your car, location and age. On average, car accidents cause damage to the tune of $7.5k — excluding medical fees. Whether you choose to include Underinsured/Uninsured coverage in your policy, depends on how happy you are to risk being charged for damages from an accident that wasn’t your fault. Generally speaking, it only costs a small amount every month to add UIM/UM, however its’ value is hard to overstate. Once an accident occurs, UIM/UM vehicle insurance stops you from being landed with bills from a collision you did not cause.