If you are hit by a driver with no insurance, then your auto insurance policy might not be able to take care of your damages—and the driver’s insurance certainly won’t because it doesn’t exist! Instead, you will need to see if your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage can help.
UM/UIM insurance is designed to provide protection and coverage to drivers when the liable party has no coverage (uninsured) or inadequate coverage (underinsured). When you use UM/UIM insurance, it will be through a first-party claim.
Also, UM/UIM insurance is sometimes optional, so you should double-check to make sure you have it. It is always recommended that you not only purchase UM/UIM insurance but also that you purchase the best coverage that you can reasonably afford.
How Much UM/UIM Coverage Is Enough?
Most people assume that they are “fully covered” if they buy any UM/UIM insurance, but this is not the case. Every UM/UIM insurance policy has a cap, and most drivers only purchase the minimum amount required by their state, if such a minimum is even required. When a serious injury occurs and the at-fault party has inadequate insurance, the injured driver can use their UM/UIM insurance, but can only expect up to the policy cap. Still, any coverage through a UM/UIM insurance policy is better than no or limited coverage from the other driver.
For example, here at The Law Office of Joshua W. Branch in Athens, Georgia, Attorney Joshua Branch has successfully handled a number of trials involving UM/UIM situations, one such trial was where the defendant driver only had a $25,000 policy (the state’s minimum required amount) to pay for the client’s medical bills and pain and suffering and loss of abilities and everything needed for a full cup of justice. The total for the bills reached more than $80,000 because the client suffered an injury to her spine that needed a dual-level diskectomy and fusion. Attorney Branch was able to secure a $330,000 verdict, and actually receive the full amount of the verdict due to the client’s substantial UIM insurance policy that covered that amount.
Furthermore, you should keep in mind that there is no such thing as “full coverage.” Often time clients think they have “full coverage” and what happened was their insurance agent sold them the state minimum. Get as much UM/UIM insurance coverage as you can afford – it is your safety net in case you are in a horrible accident.
Georgia UM/UIM Law Change
Before January 1, 2009, Georgia law allowed an off-set of the liability coverage from UM insurance coverage. However, SB 276 went into effect and allows the policy of the liability insurance to be added to the UM coverage instead, which is called “stacking” coverage. Due to this legal update, all drivers in Georgia will want to make sure that they have a considerable amount of uninsured motorist insurance and that it is considered “stacking.”
Different auto insurers use different languages and terminologies to describe stacking UM coverage. For example, some insurers call it “add-on” UM insurance compared to “traditional” or off-set. If you aren’t sure if your UM coverage is stacking, you should call your auto insurance company and ask for clarification.
Protection Against Premium Increases
Our attorneys have heard many clients in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases ask, “If I file against or sue my own insurance company, won’t they drop me or raise my premiums?” Thankfully, Georgia law OCGA 33-9-40 prohibits an insurer from raising premiums or dropping an insured policyholder when they are in a car accident with two or more vehicles and are not considered at fault. This protection includes when UM/UIM insurance must be used.
Protecting Drivers on Our Roads
If you are ever in an accident on a Georgia road, then know that The Law Office of Joshua W. Branch is here to help. Our legal team can handle the most complex of car accident claims and lawsuits, including those that deal with uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance disputes. To see if we’re the right law firm for your case, just dial (706) 760-9220 and request a no-cost consultation.