Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Claims
The following article will cover:
- UM insurance coverage and its importance for insured drivers in Georgia.
- Underinsured motorist coverage and the risks of having a collision with an at fault driver with inadequate insurance coverage in Georgia.
- Filing a UIM claim and the time limits involved in Georgia.
I Was Hit And Injured By A Driver Who Was Uninsured. Do I Have Any Chances Of Recovering Financially From My Injuries In Georgia?
If you have been hit and injured by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured in Georgia, there is still hope for you to recover financially. Georgia has what is called UM insurance, which stands for uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. The minimum liability requirements for insurance in Georgia are $25,000 per accident per person and $50,000 per accident. Because it is so easy after a collision that is not your fault to have injuries that exceed $25,000 for a single person or $50,000 for a single accident, you should purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage with your car insurance as you can.
Uninsured motorist coverage is added to whatever liability coverage is available. For instance, if the other driver has $50,000 of coverage per person and $100,000 of coverage per accident, and you have $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident coverage in a UM policy, you can add that on to their $50,000. This would mean that for an individual person, you would have $150,000 of insurance coverage, and for an accident, you would have $400,000 of insurance coverage, whereas you would otherwise be stuck with either no coverage or the coverage afforded by the other driver.
It is essential to have as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as possible because many people in Georgia do not have adequate insurance coverage or have just the bare minimum. UM insurance is the cheapest health insurance you can buy because it not only pays for medical expenses but also covers lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses that health insurance does not cover. Therefore, it is important to get as much UM underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage as you can afford and make sure that it is “add on” and not “set off.” Many insurance companies will say that you should only buy the insurance that you need, just bare minimum coverage, and will tell you that you do not need uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. They will say things like: health insurance will cover that. This is a lie plain and simple. To protect you and your family you should buy enough insurance to protect you and your assets and as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that the insurance company will sell you.
Some of the big insurance companies in Georgia like Allstate, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual may ask you to sign waivers to exclude UM coverage. This is because the default is add-on UM coverage, and signing the waivers would eliminate any coverage altogether and raise the exposure for the insurance company with very little premium. Hence, it would be best if you were very careful when buying insurance about signing these waivers of UM coverage or making UM coverage set off as opposed to added on.
How Common Are Uninsured Or Underinsured Drivers Across Georgia?
Uninsured drivers do occur in Georgia, but it is a crime to drive a car without insurance. Therefore, there are not as many completely uninsured drivers as there are underinsured drivers. However, sometimes a person living in a house has insurance, and someone in the household uses their vehicle, but their insurance excludes them unless they are listed on the policy.
This can be a situation where you think there is insurance, but there is not. Thus, it is important to have uninsured motorist coverage – not only to protect yourself from the reckless who drive cars without insurance but for underinsured drivers as well.
A more common situation would be underinsured motorist coverage because Georgia only requires $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident insurance coverage by law to drive on the streets. Many times when people are seriously injured, they easily run up more than $25,000 in medical expenses. Many emergency room bills exceed $15,000.00. It’s easy to underestimate how much medical care can cost:
- Fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7,500
- The average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is around $30,000
- Back surgery can range from $12,400 to $94,300.
For instance, if you are in intensive care for a week, that care alone can cost $100,000 – not to mention the cost of medical care you will need throughout your recovery. Therefore, it is essential to have as much underinsured or UM insurance as you can afford and make sure that it is add-on and not set off underinsured motorist coverage.
What Happens In An Accident When The Driver Has UIM Coverage?
In the event of an accident, to use uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you have to have injuries that exceed the available insurance. For instance, if you have $300,000 in damages, but the other person only has a $100,000 insurance policy, then you have $200,000 that is not covered by their insurance.
This would trigger underinsured motorist coverage that would be needed to fill the gap. Another circumstance would be if the other driver does not have insurance at all. If they are uninsured, they are driving without insurance, or perhaps they live in a household, and the person has a car and insurance, but they are not listed on the policy, and the insurance excludes anyone that lives in the household that is not listed on the policy. In such a case, you would need uninsured motorist coverage.
Is There A Certain Time Limit To File A UIM Claim?
The time limits to file an uninsured motorist claim are the same as they would be for a personal injury, which is two years. However, you have to put the underinsured motorist coverage carrier on notice as early as possible if you feel like you have a claim that may exceed the available insurance of the at-fault driver.
Therefore, from a policy perspective, it is recommended that you put your underinsured motorist coverage carrier on notice as soon as you realize that there may be an injury that exceeds the available bodily injury insurance.