How Your Georgia Uninsured Motorist Insurance May Provide You Coverage
It is becoming more and more the rule rather than the exception that clients involved in a car accident are struck by someone who does not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the injured. With minimum insurance requirements still set at just $25,000.00 and health insurance costs rising by double digits each year, it is not hard to see why this has become such a large problem.
Fortunately for many injury victims, there is another source of insurance coverage that may be available on top of the coverage from the at-fault party’s insurance. It is called Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage or UM insurance.
Where Does UM Insurance Come From?
UM coverage comes from your insurance policies or sometimes your relatives’ policies that live with you in the same household. Typically it is found on your auto policy as a separate line of insurance from your liability coverage.
What Does It Cover?
UM insurance coverage is there to protect you in the situation where the person that cause your injuries has no insurance or not enough insurance to fully compensate you. It is something in addition to liability coverage that you pay a premium for along with your liability coverage.
This coverage pays you for any damages you have suffered as a result of the negligence of another to the extent not covered by the at-fault party’s insurance coverage. It covers all types of damages from medical expenses to lost wages to pain and suffering damages.
Does Everyone Have UM Coverage?
No. UM coverage is not required in the State of Georgia. It is an optional, add-on to type of coverage that you can decline to accept and pay for. Your insurance company has to offer it to you but you can decline the coverage.
How Does It Apply—Two Kinds Of UM Coverage
In addition to having the option of having UM coverage at all, Georgia gives you the further option of two different types of UM coverage. Which one you opt for determines how UM coverage applies to your situation.
The first type of UM coverage you can select is what is called Reduced Coverage UM or Difference-in-Limits UM. This type of UM coverage applies to your case to the extent your UM limits are higher than the limits of coverage from the at-fault party.
The second type of UM coverage you can select is what is called Add-On UM. This type of UM coverage applies to your case on top of whatever coverage is provided by the at-fault party regardless of the difference in limits between the two coverages.
Similar to your option to have UM coverage at all, you have to select which type of UM coverage you desire to purchase.
Illustration of How Difference-in-Limits UM Coverage Applies:
Two examples of how difference-in-limits UM coverage applies:
1. For this example, lets say the at-fault driver has $50,000.00 in auto coverage. You have $50,000.00 in UM coverage that is difference-in-coverage UM. You subtract your $50k in coverage from the $50k in coverage from the at-fault driver, which equals $0. In this scenario, your UM coverage does not apply because the difference between the two policies is zero.
2. For this example, lets say the at-fault driver has $50,000.00 in auto coverage. You have $100,000.00 in UM coverage that is difference-in-coverage UM. You subtract your $100,000.00 in coverage from the $50,000.00 in coverage from the at-fault driver, which equals $50,000.00. In this scenario, your UM coverage applies up to $50,000.00—the difference between the two policies. Therefore, you can obtain the $50k from the at-fault party’s insurance coverage and then $50,000.00 from your UM coverage for a total of all insurance of $100,000.00.
Illustration of How Add-On UM Coverage Applies:
Lets use the same two examples above to show the difference between these two types of UM coverages.
1. So there is $50,000.00 in coverage through the at-fault party’s auto coverage and $50,000.00 in UM coverage that is add-on UM coverage. Because of the add-on UM coverage, you have the full amount of both polices available—-$50k from the at-fault party coverage plus $50k from your UM coverage.
2. So there is $50,000.00 in coverage through the at-fault party’s auto coverage and $100,000.00 in UM coverage that is add-on UM coverage. Again, because of the add-on nature of your UM coverage, you have a total of $150,000.00 in insurance coverage available on your claim.
As you can see from the examples above, it is always best to purchase Add-On UM coverage. Naturally, it costs more than difference-in-limits coverage but can be well worth the added cost.
UM coverage issues often can be quite complicated. There are many possible places where UM coverage can apply to your injury claim depending on certain facts. This is why even in relatively straightforward injury cases, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to help you. Often times there is UM coverage on a policy that you never thought would provide coverage.