Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry some kind of insurance. New Hampshire and Virginia do not require drivers to have insurance, but still hold them responsible for damages in accidents in which they are at fault. Most states require liability insurance to cover damages inflicted when the insured driver is at fault, while other states are “no-fault” insurance states and require that drivers carry “personal injury protection” insurance policies to cover injuries to themselves and their passengers. Even in the 48 states that require drivers to have some kind of insurance, an astounding number of drivers choose to ignore those requirements and carry no insurance at all. This can lead to some interesting liability questions.

Georgia Does Not Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Georgia state law does not require motorists to carry uninsured motorist insurance, or UMI. The state requires insurers to offer the coverage and sets forth allowable deductibles, minimum policy coverages, and the like, but allows drivers to refuse the coverage so long as they do so in writing. If accepted, UMI covers all of the damages the at-fault driver’s insurance would have covered if the driver had carried insurance, depending upon the coverage limits of the policy. UMI can come in handy, as one in eight drivers nationwide do not have any insurance, required or not. In Georgia, 12% of drivers have no insurance, ranking the state 25th for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists – right in the middle.

Should you carry uninsured motorist coverage? That depends. If you borrow money to buy a car, your lender likely will require you to purchase UMI. Otherwise, you do not have to. On the other hand, unless you can afford to cover your own medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages if you are involved in an accident where the at-fault driver has no insurance, you probably should purchase UMI.

Required or Not, UMI is Useful to Have and Prudent

Most people do not have the ability to cover all of their damages from an automobile accident out of their own pocket, especially if the accident is serious and the damages are substantial.  If you are involved in an accident where an uninsured driver is at fault, you still can file a lawsuit for damages, but someone who won’t spend the money on auto insurance coverage seems unlikely to have the financial resources to cover your damages. You could get a judgment in court and still be unable to recover your damages, at least in a timely fashion.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can file against your own insurance policy to recover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering related to your injuries

If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, all of that would, at least initially, come out of your own pocket. If you sue and obtain a judgement, you might eventually recover some of your damages, although the uninsured driver could always avoid paying up by declaring bankruptcy, essentially voiding your judgment. If you purchase UMI, though, you will recover your damages regardless of the at-fault driver’s ability to pay.

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