So very often, auto accident victims think that they have “full coverage” auto insurance on their vehicle, but unfortunately, that often isn’t the case.
“Liability” coverage is the amount of coverage you have on your vehicle to pay out to someone else if you cause an accident.
“Uninsured” or “Underinsured” coverage (UM coverage) is the amount of coverage you have on your vehicle to pay to yourself and/or your passengers if someone else causes an accident that results in injuries to you or your passengers. This coverage specifically protects you and/or your passengers in the event that the person who caused the accident is either uninsured or doesn’t have enough coverage.
“Medical Payments” (MedPay) is additional coverage you can add to your policy to pay for medical bills or prescriptions related to an auto accident. MedPay coverage is sold in $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, and up increments.
The minimum amount of Liability coverage legally required to drive your vehicle on the road in Georgia is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If someone hits you and they only have the minimum coverage, that means that, no matter how badly you are injured and no matter how high your medical bills are, $25,000 is the maximum amount that an individual person can recover from that policy, and $50,000 is the maximum amount that will be paid out from that policy no matter how many people are injured. (For example, if there were three people in the car, they would have to share the $50,000 in coverage.) Liability coverage is also sold in larger amounts, but this is the minimum amount of coverage required.
You are NOT required to have UM coverage on your vehicle, which means that you may be legally covered but not fully protected. If your injuries and medical bills result in damages exceeding the amount of liability coverage available (minimum $25k/$50k), then you can use your own UM coverage to make up the difference. This is why it is so important to have at least some form of UM coverage on your policy.
UM coverage comes in two varieties: “add-on” or “reduced” coverage. “Add-on” means that the amount of UM coverage you have will be “added on” to the amount of liability coverage that the other person has. “Reduced” means that the amount you are able to recover from your own policy will be “reduced” by the amount of liability coverage that the at-fault driver has. For example, if a person with $25k in liability coverage hits you, and you have $25k in add-on UM coverage, you will have $50k total in applicable coverage available to you. If, however, you have $25k in reduced coverage, you will only have the $25k in liability coverage available to you. Alternatively, if you have $100k in UM coverage and the at-fault party has $25k in liability coverage, you will have applicable coverage totaling $125k if you have add-on UM, or $100k if you have reduced UM coverage.
If you reject UM coverage entirely, and you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will not have any applicable insurance coverage from which to recover. This applies to medical/bodily injury claims as well as property damage claims. And although it is illegal in Georgia for drivers to be completely uninsured, it does happen.
You don’t want to rely on someone else to have insurance to cover you in the event of an accident. Therefore, it is important that you check your insurance policy and make sure you know what coverage you have or don’t have. Often, it doesn’t cost much more monthly or annually to add UM and/or Med Pay coverage to your policy.
Every case is different, and there may be extenuating circumstances that pertain to your particular situation. However, knowing what coverage you have is the most basic thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers.