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Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia
If you are involved in a Georgia car accident, it is important that you understand what uninsured motorist coverage is and the benefits it may provide for your accident. Uninsured motorist insurance is frequently referred to as UM coverage. In Georgia, this type of insurance can be used if there is no liability insurance, or if the available liability coverage is not sufficient to pay all of your damages. In other words, if the person who caused the car accident has no insurance, UM coverage may be available to pay your damages. In addition, if the person who caused the accident has insurance, but it is not enough to pay all of your damages, then you may be entitled to UM coverage to pay for any damages that exceed the available liability insurance.
Sources of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are several potential sources of UM coverage: (1) your own insurance policy; (2) the insurance policy for the vehicle you were in at the time of the wreck if you were in somebody else’s car; and (3) any insurance policies issued to any relatives who reside in your household. Identifying every potential source of UM coverage is important because you can stack multiple UM policies—that is, you can add up all the available UM policies and use them if necessary.
It is important to remember that UM coverage applies even if you were not in a car at the time of the accident—for example, if you were hit by a car while a pedestrian. This is because UM coverage applies if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, which, again, is one with no insurance or not enough insurance to cover all your damages.
Uninsured motorist insurance is not required in Georgia, but it must be offered. The default rule is that the insured’s policy affords UM coverage equal to the limits of liability coverage. However, an insured can select lower limits, or it can reject UM coverage altogether.
Types of Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia
There are two types of UM coverage: (1) add-on (aka excess); and (2) difference-in-limits (aka reduced limits or traditional UM). As its name implies, add-on coverage is added on to whatever limits of liability coverage the at-fault driver has available. So, for example, if the negligent driver has $25,000 in available liability insurance, and you have $100,000 in add-on UM coverage, then you will have a total of $125,000 in available insurance for your case. Difference-in-limits coverage, on the other hand, is reduced by the amount of available liability coverage. In the previous example, you would only have $75,000 in UM coverage available ($100,000 minus the $25,000 liability coverage) for a total of $100,000 in available insurance.
Notifying Uninsured Motorist Carriers
It is important that you identify and notify all potential insurance carriers as soon as possible after an accident because insurance policies require that the policyholders report accidents to the insurance company in a timely manner. This is particularly true for insurers that provide UM coverage. Many people are not familiar with the various sources of UM coverage, so they frequently neglect to notify all the potential UM insurers. For example, most people don’t know that they can use their own UM policy, even if they were not in their own car at the time of the accident. Furthermore, most people do not know that they can use a resident relative’s UM policy.