After car accident in Georgia, the last thing you want to hear is that the other driver’s insurance won’t cover your costs — or, worse yet, that they are not insured at all. Because it is illegal to operate a vehicle without auto insurance in Georgia, most people assume that — in the event of an accident — their expenses should be paid for. Unfortunately, you may be surprised at just how many people drive without insurance, or without adequate insurance, throughout the United States and in Georgia.
According to data from recent years, about 13% of drivers in the United States are uninsured. That might not sound like much at first, but let’s put it in perspective. Statistically, one in eight drivers is uninsured. That means, for every eight drivers you pass on the road, at least one of them is likely driving without auto insurance. With numbers like that, the idea of getting in an auto accident in Georgia is even more frightening.
After a car accident, most people assume that the at-fault driver’s insurance company should take care of all expenses. In a perfect world, that would absolutely happen, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. Not only are there numerous uninsured motorists driving around, but you might also find that the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for all of your damages.
Let’s say, for example, that your total damages—medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering—add up to $100,000, but the at-fault driver’s policy only had $25,000 available for bodily injury damages. In this case, you could get $25,000 from the negligent driver’s insurance company, but the insurance company would not have to pay the rest of your damages. So what can you do?
Fortunately, there are actually multiple avenues available to victims of car wrecks in Georgia. The other driver’s liability insurance is not the only option. Depending on your coverage and the circumstances of the crash, you might be able to get payment from:
- Uninsured/under-insured motorist insurance
- Medical payments coverage (commonly known as “med pay”)
- Health insurance
- Collision insurance
Some of these may seem obvious, but others may surprise you. Let’s go through each of these payment options and how they might apply to your case.
Getting Payment Through Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM) coverage isn’t included with every auto insurance policy, but every auto insurance company in Georgia must at least offer it for all policies. Basically, UM coverage is an added layer of protection, in case you are involved in a hit-and-run accident or you are hit by someone who doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay for your damages.
Add-On Coverage v. Difference-in-Limits Coverage
There are two types of UM coverage: add-on and difference-in-limits. As its name implies, add-on coverage is added on to whatever limits of liability coverage the at-fault driver has available. So, as an example, let’s say that the at-fault driver has $25,000 in available liability coverage, and you have $100,000 in add-on UM coverage. Together, you will have a total of $125,000 in available insurance for your case.
Conversely, difference-in-limits coverage is reduced by the amount of available liability coverage. Thus, if you have $100,000 in difference-in-limits coverage and the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, you would have an additional $100,000 total to cover your damages — $25,000 from the at-fault driver and $75,000 from your own insurance company.
Even if you do not carry UM coverage for your own vehicle, you may still have access to it through another source. For example, if you were driving someone else’s car, their UM coverage will apply to the accident. Likewise, and this is something many people don’t know, if you have a relative residing with you who has UM coverage, you may be able to use their policy as well.
Using Med Pay After a Car Accident in Georgia
Medical payments coverage, commonly referred to as “med pay” for short, is a type of insurance you may have on your own insurance policy to pay your medical bills. Any time you are in an accident while riding in someone else’s car, it is also important to find out if that car’s policy has med pay.
What is med pay? In short, medical payments coverage is essentially health insurance for people who are in a car accident in the car that is covered by the insurance policy. Med pay provides coverage to the vehicle’s occupants regardless of who is at fault. Med pay can be a valuable source of insurance to pay your medical bills. If your auto insurance policy includes med pay, you can use it as the primary source of payment for your medical costs — up to its limit. You may also use it in combination with your health insurance policy to cover your co-pays and deductibles.
Applying Health Insurance to Medical Bills After an Auto Accident in Georgia
With or without med pay, you should always use your health insurance plan as much as possible after an auto accident. It is not uncommon for hospitals, and some other medical providers, to refuse to bill health insurance companies. Instead, they may attempt to collect the full amount for your bills directly from your car accident settlement. You can avoid this hassle by ensuring that all of your medical providers have your health insurance information.
On this topic, we should address an issue around health insurance and car accidents. After an accident, some health insurance companies will try to claim that they are not responsible for your medical bills, especially if you are getting compensation through another payment source. However, this is not true. If you have health insurance, your insurance policy is there for you when you need it, to help pay for your medical costs. Always use your health insurance as much as possible when paying for medical needs after a car accident, especially if the other driver is uninsured or under-insured.
Using Your Collision Coverage to Repair Your Vehicle
An accident with an uninsured driver can not only leave you with questions about how to get your injuries covered, but it may also raise concerns about how you will get your car fixed. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, that coverage can be used as it will include property damages coverage. Additionally, your own policy’s collision coverage can be used to pay for the damage to your vehicle after a wreck, regardless of fault. If your policy includes collision coverage, you can use it to pay for your property damage claim after the accident. In this case, you will likely have to pay for some of the damage to your vehicle, as you’ll need to meet your insurance policy’s deductible before your collision coverage pays for the rest.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage and collision coverage, you can use either one to pay the property damages resulting from an uninsured driver. The decision on which coverage to use may be dictated by which has the lowest deductible. For example, if your uninsured motorist coverage has a $1,000 deductible but the deductible on your collision coverage is only $500, you should probably use your collision coverage as your out of pocket costs will be less on the deductible.
If you were hit by an under-insured driver, your insurance company will seek reimbursement for your claim from the other driver’s insurance company. This process is called subrogation, and if the other driver’s insurance company pays that reimbursement, your insurance company should then reimburse you for your deductible. If your insurance company cannot get payment, you will at least not be responsible for any costs over and above your deductible.
Contact the Champion Firm for Help Now
At The Champion Firm, we love finding solutions like these for our clients. From sourcing all possible payments to proving fault and everything in between, we pride ourselves on finding solutions and getting the best results possible for our clients. If you’ve been hurt or lost someone you love due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you could be owed significant compensation. Consultations are always free, and you can reach us online or at 404-594-5045.