Uninsured/Underinsured insurance | Personal Injury Lawyer Ellijay, Ga
In Georgia every motor vehicle insurance policy sold is required to contain an endorsement or provision to pay the insured damages for bodily injury, loss of consortium or death of an insured, or for injury to or destruction of property of an insured under the named insured's policy sustained from the owner or operator of an uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle – this is typically referred to as UM coverage.
UM Coverage is short for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Liability insurance protects someone that you may injury, and UM coverage protects the policy holder (you) in the event you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and the driver that causes the collision either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the total amount damages.
While there are state requirements for minimum limits, a growing number of drivers are driving without any valid coverage. In the event of an accident with an uninsured driver, you could be without any coverage for the resulting proper damage (UMPD) and injuries for you (UMBI). With the increasing cost of ambulance services, medical bills and vehicle repair costs, this is a huge financial burden.
If you have been injured in a car accident it is easy to underestimate the amount of effort required to obtain a payout under the UM policy – after all they are YOUR insurance company, right? They should be on your side? In theory – yes. However, it is important to remember they are still an insurance company whether yours or not and their number one goal is to settle every claim for as little as possible.
Teague Law has represented clients attempting to collect under a UM policy, and while the insurance company initially claimed no coverage existed, the insurance company was unable to provide the written election to decline coverage by the insured and therefore coverage existed by default. Instances like this are why it is always necessary to consult with a North Georgia Personal Injury Attorney even when dealing with your own insurance company to collect under a UM policy.
UM Coverage is provided for in every insurance policy in Georgia by default. This means if you do not want UM coverage, you must elect to forgo the coverage. This election MUST be in writing. When purchasing a new insurance policy you are given 3 (three) options for Uninsured/ Underinsured Insurance in Georgia:
1. “Add on” coverage: The amount provided is always potentially available with hardly no limits to go beyond whatever coverage the negligent person has. For example: if the person at fault had $15,000 in liability coverage and you had $15,000 in “add-on” coverage, then your losses are greater than the person at fault liability limits, you would be able to “add-on” on top of that person's coverage to possibly collect up to $30,000.
2. “Reduced” coverage: This is when your coverage exceeds the at fault’s liability limits which reduces the available amount of coverage and offset by that person's limits. For example: if the at fault person has $15,000 in liability coverage and you have $15,000 in coverage but your losses exceed that amount then anything after that $15,000 of coverage is not covered by insurance.
3. “Waiver” or waive: When you sign a waiver of Underinsured/ Uninsured insurance coverage you may be offered a lower policy premium but in return you will not have any underinsured/ uninsured coverage available to you. In fact, you are waiving the statutory protection guaranteed to you by the State of Georgia in return for a slightly cheaper policy.