Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

Hoffspiegel Law Blog

The short answer is a resounding YES!  Uninsured motorist coverage is available up to the limit of your liability coverage.  It is optional coverage in Georgia.  But resist the temptation to go as cheaply as possible or you may regret it.

 There are a few twists on what uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is and when it can be utilized.  The first instance is when you are injured by a driver who is either uninsured or cannot be identified.  That is generally referring to a ‘hit and run’ collision where the bad actor leaves the scene and cannot be located.  Industry statistics show that approximately 12% of drivers in Georgia do not have insurance.  If you are unfortunate enough to be injured or even merely sustain property damage, without UM coverage you may be out of luck.

UM coverage can also serve as ‘underinsured’ motorist coverage.  For example, if you sustain an injury that is more serious than the limits of the wrongdoer’s policy, you may be able to add your UM coverage, or at least part of it, to your recovery.  When using UM coverage, you must inform your carrier of the event and the possibility of using your UM quickly, sometimes within no more than 30 days.

When using your UM coverage to supplement your recovery, you will have to look at the coverage.  It is categorized two different ways.  First, there is excess or add-on coverage.  That means you can simply add the coverage to what the wrongdoer has if your injury is serious enough. For example, if you have a $75,000 injury and the at-fault driver only has the state minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage, and you carry $50,000 in UM coverage, you can simply collect the $25,000 in liability coverage and add your $50,000 in UM onto it.  (Make sure you sign a “limited liability release” in order to avail yourself of your UM…counsel is recommended!)

If you have the same set of facts, but have “reduceable” UM coverage, you can only supplement your recovery with the difference between your UM coverage of $50,000 and the $25,000 in liability coverage and your recovery will be limited to $50,000, rather than the $75,000 you would be eligible for if you had add-on UM.  There is a signature line listing your options on your insurance application.  Select the option that will not only give you UM coverage but will provide it in the form of add-on or excess coverage.  It will provide needed protection for both you and your passengers.

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