Georgia requires vehicle owners to carry certain minimum amounts of liability car insurance, in the event that they cause a traffic accident on the state's roads and highways. In this article, we'll discuss:
Georgia follows a "fault" system when it comes to financial responsibility for a car accident. This means that an at-fault driver is liable for any personal injury or property damage resulting from the crash, and their liability insurance policy will be used to satisfy the financial impact of these losses (called "damages" in legalese).
After a car accident in Georgia, depending on the kinds of insurance coverage that's in play, you might be able to seek compensation for your accident-related losses by:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, claimants don't have this same range of options, but Georgia drivers don't need to worry about no-fault for an in-state accident.
Georgia requires that the owner of a motor vehicle registered in the state carry liability insurance on their vehicle. The minimum liability coverage you are required to carry in Georgia is:
This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits.
You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Finally, remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay coverage can be used to pay your car accident medical bills, and collision coverage can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
Georgia does not require that every motorist purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), as long as the policyholder rejects it in writing.
UIM coverage is a supplemental feature of your own policy that is intended to protect you if you get into an accident where the at-fault driver either has no insurance coverage at all, or carries an insufficient amount of insurance to cover your damages.
One twist of Georgia law related to UIM coverage is that the state subdivides UIM coverage into two categories: "New" and "Traditional" coverage. Under Traditional coverage (or "set-off" coverage) your UIM availability is diminished by the other driver's available liability insurance. So, if you have a $25,000 Traditional UIM policy and the at-fault driver has the state minimum coverage of $25,000, the two cancel each other out; your UIM policy is completely set off by the at-fault driver's liability policy.
By contrast, "New" UIM stacks on top of the at-fault driver's coverage; using the same numbers, you would have another $25,000 of UIM after the at-fault driver's policy is exhausted. This distinction makes it very important to understand which variation of UIM you have. (It should come as no surprise that "New" UIM coverage is more expensive than Traditional.)
In Georgia, you can show proof of car insurance—when requested by a law enforcement officer, for example—in a variety of ways, including:
For more details on establishing your insured status, check out the Georgia Department of Revenue's Acceptable Proof of Insurance page.
If you drive without car insurance in Georgia, you could face a variety of penalties, including
Of course, these penalties can pale in comparison to the financial peril you might find yourself if you cause a car accident while you're driving without insurance. Especially if injuries are serious, you could be on the hook for tens (even hundreds) of thousands of dollars. Learn more about what happens when you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.
For more information on Georgia's car insurance rules and requirements, straight from the state, check out the Georgia Department of Insurance's Automobile Insurance information page.
Of course, you may need more than the basics on how car insurance works in Georgia. Learn more about what to do after a car accident, and how a lawyer can help with your car accident claim. And if you're ready to discuss your situation and your options now, you can use the features right on this page to connect with a Georgia car accident attorney in your area.