Georgia Car Insurance
If you want to learn about Georgia auto insurance, we’ve got all the information you’ll need right here. Keep reading for information on required coverage, penalties for driving uninsured, how claims work, and more.
Mandatory insurance law
Georgia is a “tort” state where state law requires all drivers to have insurance.
Minimum Georgia coverage requirements
Georgia law has certain standards for car insurance policies. Those standards require every policy to include a minimum amount of liability coverage. The following table breaks down the requirements.
|Required coverage types||Minimum amount of coverage|
|Bodily injury liability||$25,000 for each person’s injuries in an accident|
|$50,000 total for all injuries in an accident|
|Property damage liability||$25,000 total per accident|
When someone driving your car causes an accident, it pays for victims’ medical and repair bills. However, it only pays up to a certain amount. Minimum policies include $50,000 worth of coverage for medical bills and $25,000 for property damages. If you get the minimum amount of liability insurance, you may see it referred to as 25/50/25 coverage. You can buy more than the minimums to be better protected.
Remember, liability doesn’t cover the driver’s medical bills or car repairs. It only covers those expenses for victims of an accident.
Penalties for driving uninsured
If you break the law and don’t buy coverage, it could cost you. You could get stuck having to pay other people’s medical and repair bills if someone crashes your car. You can also face license and registration suspension and hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.
|Number of Offenses||Fine||Licesense Suspension|
|1st||$200-$1,000||At least 60 days & until you: 1) Pre-pay a 6-month insurance policy (SR-22A) 2) Pay a $200 – $210 restoration fee|
|2nd & Subsequent||$200-$1,000||At least 90 days & until you: 1) Pre-pay a 6-month insurance policy (SR-22A) 2) Pay a $300 – $310 restoration fee|
In the Peach State, you can prove that you’re insured with your smartphone or other electronic device, thanks to the electronic proof law, which went into effect in May 2013. That means a copy of your insurance ID card displayed on a smartphone or tablet works as acceptable proof of insurance. Many major insurers will provide you with an electronic proof of insurance card, which the industry calls an “e-card.”
Drivers who have insurance but no proof when asked for it face a $25 penalty.
For the electronic document to be valid proof of insurance, it should clearly state all of the following info:
- Name of the insurer
- Insurance policy number
- Policy period
- Name and address of each insured driver
- Policy limits
- Make and model of each covered vehicle
In addition to liability coverage, there are optional coverages you can add. They’ll raise the cost of your insurance, but they’ll also provide greater protection. The following are the most widely available coverage add-ons in the state.
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision. Some examples of this type of damage are vandalism, hail damage, and theft. In 2011, almost 7 out of every 10 drivers in Georgia bought comprehensive coverage, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
It pays for repairing or replacing the insured vehicle after an accident. In 2011, two-thirds of drivers in the state bought collision coverage, according to data from the NAIC.
Uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) bodily injury
It helps pay your medical bills and the medical bills of your family and passengers after an accident. It does so when the driver who caused the accident either:
- Doesn’t have insurance or fled the scene of the accident
- Has insurance, but not enough to cover all your medical bills
When you buy a policy, your insurer is required by law to include uninsured motorist coverage, according to regulators. However, you can reject the coverage in writing.
Add-on vs. reduced: If you buy UM/UIM coverage, you’ll have to decide whether you want “add-on” or “reduced” coverage.
In short, add-on coverage provides more protection in accidents with uninsured drivers, but it can cost more. It can sometimes cost twice as much as reduced coverage, according to sample premium data from regulators.
Stacking: Georgia law allows drivers to increase their uninsured motorist coverage through stacking. Stacking increases the amount of coverage you have. But it may also increase your premium.
You may be able to stack coverage if you have multiple cars under your policy or are insured through multiple policies. Stacking basically lets you combine the coverage from all those cars or policies when you file a large claim.
Stacking can differ from insurer to insurer. So check with your agent or company to find out your options.
Uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) property damage
It pays for repairing your car after an accident caused by a driver who either:
- Doesn’t have insurance or fled the scene of the accident
- Has insurance, but not enough to cover all your repair bills
It pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation, and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses after an accident, according to regulators.
Protection from drivers without insurance
Statewide, about 16% of drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council.
If someone crashes into you, you have a 1-in-6 chance that he or she doesn’t have insurance. That means they won’t be able to pay for your damages from an accident.
If someone who injures you in an accident doesn’t have insurance, you may need to rely on your own policy. But not all people have the coverage they need.
The following optional coverages will pay for medical bills for you, your family, and any passengers if they were injured by an uninsured driver:
- Uninsured motorist
- Medical payments
The following optional coverages will pay for your car repairs from damage caused by an uninsured driver:
- Uninsured motorist property damage
If you don’t have any of the coverages listed here, you might not be able to get your medical bills and/or property damages covered.
How Claims Work in Georgia
Georgia uses a “tort” system for car insurance claims. That means if someone injures you or wrecks your car, their liability insurance pays your medical and repair bills.
But in some cases, the other driver won’t be 100% responsible for the accident. Your actions could have contributed to the accident, and you could be partially responsible. This makes things a little more complicated.
If you’re partially responsible, it reduces the amount you can get from the other driver’s insurer. Georgia uses modified comparative fault to sort this out. Here are the details:
If you’re at least 50% responsible for the accident: The other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay any of your bills. You have to completely rely on your own policy.
If you’re less than 50% responsible for the accident : The other driver’s insurer will pay your bills. But the amount they pay will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 20% responsible for an accident, the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay 100% of your bills. Instead, it pays only 80%, since you were 20% responsible. So in this example, if you have $10,000 in bills from an accident, the other driver’s insurer has to pay only $8,000.
So what if the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay your bills? You use your own policy. Medical payments can help pay your medical bills. Collision will help pay your repair bills. But both of those coverages are optional. You’ll be on your own if you didn’t add them to your policy.
Georgia auto insurance rates
Georgia car insurance premiums are just about at the national average. The average cost of a policy in the state was less than 1% higher than the 2011 national average. That makes it the state with the 16th-highest average coverage costs, according to data from the NAIC.
If you drive safely, infrequently, or both, you may want to look into a usage-based discount program. These programs use a device you install in your car to track how far it’s driven and/or if it’s driven safely. Depending on how you drive, you could potentially get a discount of up to 30%.
The following major insurers offer usage-based discounts in the Peach State:
- Progressive: Snapshot
Non-renewal rights for consumers
Sometimes companies decide that they don’t want certain policyholders as customers anymore. If they do, they may choose to “non-renew” the policy. This usually happens because the driver has racked up more accidents than the insurer is comfortable with.
- You have more than 1 at-fault accident in 3 years
- All of your claims payments total at least $750
- You have been with that insurer for at least 3 years
- You have had only one claim during that period (even if it was your fault)
If you think your policy was wrongly non-renewed, you can contest it. To do so, contact the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. You must do so within 15 days of receiving the non-renewal notice.
Georgia car insurance companies
Know before you buy
If you’re buying from a small insurance company or agent you’ve never heard of before, you may want to make sure it’s licensed to do business in your state. If you buy a policy from an unlicensed agent or company, your coverage may be worthless.
Also, you’ll want to be sure about its business record. State regulators let you search for closed complaint files in Georgia that note that an agent or company has had a problem with regulators.That way, you’ll know even more before you buy.
Is there a delay with your claim payout? Or is there another problem you want regulatory officials to know about? Go online, and regulatory officials can review your case if you submit a complaint about a Georgia auto insurer.
Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan
If you’ve had a hard time finding a car insurer who will cover you (usually because of marks on your driving record), you can still turn to the Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan. The Plan is the car insurer of last resort for the state’s high-risk drivers.
Did You Know?
Electronic insurance ID
If you're stopped by police while driving in Georgia, you can prove that you're insured with an electronic copy of your insurance ID card. Many major insurers offer apps that you can use to display your proof of insurance on your smartphone or tablet.