Auto insurance is a legal requirement in Georgia.
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Georgia law requires each of its 7.26 million licensed drivers to have continuous liability insurance for their cars. Insurance requirements exist to protect you and your car, because medical bills and property damage get expensive fast.
It’s stunning to see how many accidents result in injuries. According to Freedom National, there were over 600,000 car accident injuries in Georgia in 2020. Injuries make accidents more expensive.
While Georgia’s average national property claim in 2020 was $4,525, the average personal injury claim was $18,417, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The high incidence of claims is why Georgians’ average insurance rate was $1,255 in 2020, according to the most recent 2020 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s a rate 20 percent higher than the national average!
Here’s what you need to know about Georgia’s insurance requirements and driving laws.
As a legal requirement, Georgia imposes minimum liability limits on drivers. The minimum liability requirements are $25,000 in bodily injury per person, $50,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability. Drivers can elect to have more than the minimum; that includes higher liability limits as well as elective coverages such as comprehensive and collision coverage.
Those with more assets should have higher liability limits to prevent accident victims from suing them for damages under subrogation claims.
There’s a lot more to your auto insurance options than liability coverage. You need a minimum of $25,000 in per-person bodily injury with $50,000 in per-accident injury coverage. You also need a minimum of $50,000 in property damage for liability coverage.
Though it’s not a requirement, most drivers should have full coverage. Full coverage means that you have comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and medical payments coverage along with liability insurance. These coverages protect your car in different ways.
Comprehensive coverage pays to repair your car in a situation where you didn’t hit anything; think of incidents like theft or a tree branch falling on your vehicle. Collision coverage repairs your car if you hit another vehicle or object. Comprehensive and collision protection for a car sits at its fair market value.
You’ll select a deductible, which is your portion of the car’s repair costs after an incident. You pay your deductible before the insurance company pays its part of the claim. Medical payments coverage pays your medical bills if you are in an at-fault accident.
Aside from comprehensive, collision, and medical payments coverage, there are other options you should consider. You may want to select uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for your medical care and property damage if another driver hits you but doesn’t have sufficient (or any) insurance. The Insurance Research Council estimates that 12 percent of Georgia’s population drives without insurance.1
Other recommended options include rental car coverage, emergency roadside service, and death benefits. While optional, these coverages make things a little easier if you do have an accident.
Georgia ranked eighth as the most expensive car insurance state in 2020 in a study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.2 The average annual rate was $1,255 with the average liability insurance cost being $829. This is 20 percent higher than the national average.
Based on car insurance rates around the web, drivers pay anywhere from $1,095 to $1,982 (sometimes even more) for car insurance in Georgia.
Drivers can get insurance from a wide range of insurance carriers in Georgia, including these companies:
Sometimes, rates are contingent on a ZIP code. One carrier might offer better pricing than another in one ZIP code, while the opposite is true in another area. Compare rates from different carriers to be sure you’re getting the best deal on auto insurance for your ZIP code.
You can lower your insurance premiums in several ways:
You must show proof of insurance to register a car and when an officer stops you. Proof of insurance can be a printed insurance card, a digital download from your insurance carrier’s app, or an emailed version.3
If you don’t have valid proof of insurance, you are subject to penalties and fines. The first offense is a fine of $200 to $1,000, with potential imprisonment for up to 12 months and license suspension for 60 days. To reinstate your license, you must show proof of a valid six-month policy and pay a restoration fee of $200 or $210.
A second offense brings the same potential penalties of $200 to $1,000 with up to 12 months in prison. License suspension is for a longer period with a higher restoration fee: 90 days and $300 or $310.4
There are many insurance-pertinent state laws you need to be aware of when driving in Georgia.
Georgia is a fault state, meaning that the at-fault party pays the injury claims and property damage for the car or object struck. When it comes to negligence, Georgia is a modified comparative state, meaning the plaintiff cannot recover losses if they are equally or more responsible for damages and injuries than the defendant.5
Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory for Georgia drivers, but your insurance carrier must offer it to you. So, when you get an insurance quote, the agent will ask you if you want uninsured motorist coverage. Though we recommend it, it is optional coverage.6
Georgia allows stacking for uninsured motorist coverage. Stacking means that you combine the uninsured motorist coverage of all the cars in your household to give you greater protection. For example, if you have two cars, each with $25,000 in uninsured motorist per-person liability protection, you would have $50,000 in coverage with stacking.
Driving under the influence (DUI) has steep penalties in Georgia. If you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more, you are DUI. If you’re caught, a DUI will stay on your record for five years and come with a mandatory one-year license suspension.
Fines range from $1,000 to $3,000, with jail time up to 12 months. Ignition interlocks are mandatory if you have a second offense, with a license revocation for up to five years.
Georgia is a primary seat belt law state, meaning that officers can ticket you for a seat belt violation even if there is no other penalty for the road stop. Those ages 8 and older in the front seat must wear seat belts.7 The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $15, or $25 if a child is not appropriately secured.
Distracted driving is an offense in Georgia. The state bans the use of handheld devices while driving, with all drivers forbidden from texting while driving.
Texting and driving is a primary offense, meaning it can be the only reason an officer stops you. There is a $50 fine for a first offense and a $100 fine for a second offense that happens within five years of the first. While you don’t get a point on your record for the first offense, you could get three points if you commit a second offense within five years.8
The Georgia Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) is a licensing program for drivers ages 15 to 18. Drivers can get permits (Class CP) at 15 years old and provisional licenses (Class D) once they have held permits for over 12 months. At 18, they are eligible for full licenses (Class C).
The provisional license means that they cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. Only immediate family members may ride in the teenage driver’s car for the first six months. The following six months allow one passenger under 21 who is not a member of the family to be in the car with the provisional licensed driver. After a year, up to three passengers who are not family members are allowed in the car.
Georgia has a statute of limitations for claims. The limit is four years to file a claim for property damage, and two years for personal injury claims. If you miss this window, your insurance will not cover your claim.
Insurance companies must give you enough time to find other coverage when canceling or declining to renew your policy. In Georgia, 30 days is the minimum time required for the provider to notify you of your policy cancellation or non-renewal, regardless of the reason, before your policy expires.
Georgia allows you to self-insure a car. To do so, you must put up a $50,000 bond with the Department of Revenue. This bond waives your requirement to buy insurance from a carrier.
If your car is older than 3 years, you must have it inspected by a licensed emissions inspector each year before registration renewals. You can get an inspection at a licensed mechanics shop or gas station. You’ll get a sticker as proof of inspection, and the inspector will file a form with the state.
An SR-22 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate. Insurance carriers issue SR-22s when you have had your license suspended for an offense like not adhering to financial responsibility laws or driving under the influence. Georgia requires an SR-22 if you are a habitual violator or have had your license revoked; you must use the SR-22 for up to five years.
If you take a defensive driving course, the DMV may reduce the points on your license, and you may be eligible for insurance discounts. These courses help you be a more courteous and responsible driver to reduce accidents or dangerous scenarios. The maximum number of points that a defensive driving course can take off your record in Georgia is seven. Georgia requires you to take all defensive driving courses in person; online courses are not accepted.
There is no serious injury or monetary threshold to sue after a car accident in Georgia. When someone gets serious injuries in an accident, they may have noneconomic damages such as emotional distress, inconvenience, stress and anxiety, and loss of companionship. These losses don’t have bills associated with them, so attorneys use a multiplier of the economic losses to come to a figure. This multiplier is anywhere from 1.5 to five times the medical costs and lost wages in accident cases.
Georgia’s accident reporting requirements kick in for any accident that results in death or injury, or property damage over $500. You must report the accident as soon as possible; otherwise, there is a $30 fine.
Georgia allows insurance carriers to use credit scores to help determine the cost of insurance. Carriers find that those with better credit tend to have fewer accidents and warrant preferential rates. Georgia also allows carriers to determine prices based on sex. For example, young males are higher-risk drivers than young females, so men pay more for auto insurance in Georgia.
Georgia insurers use a total-loss formula to determine if a car damaged in an accident is repairable. A vehicle is a total loss when mechanics can’t repair it safely, the cost of repairs is higher than the fair market value of the vehicle, or the damage meets the state’s total-loss guidelines.
In Georgia, a vehicle is a total loss when the actual cash value is equal to or less than the repair costs plus the salvage value. At this point, the car is too expensive to repair for the insurance carrier.
See below for pertinent contact information in Georgia.
You can contact your local Georgia Department of Driver Services online, over the phone, or by mail.
You can get a copy of your car title in Georgia by completing the following steps:
You can contact Georgia’s insurance commissioner with questions or concerns about your insurance carrier.
Georgia’s average repair cost is $409.92, well above the national average of $383.37. Most of the price is for parts, averaging $257.42 of the total cost.
Like most places, Georgia has auto thefts and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents.
The good news is that Georgia doesn’t have as many car thefts as other states. Georgia’s motor vehicle theft rate is 3 percent less than the national average, with 238 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020. These Georgia cities had the highest rates in 2020:
Georgia’s traffic fatality rate is 53 percent higher than the national average, with 1,491 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven.
Georgia is an at-fault insurance state that requires liability insurance for drivers. Those who don’t follow driving laws are subject to penalties that include fines and jail time in some cases. Georgia has more accidents than average, so you should consider getting full coverage on your car, with additional options such as rental car coverage, for adequate protection.
We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions for Georgia drivers.
The cheapest car insurance rates in Georgia are contingent on your driving record, with lower prices for drivers who have a clean history, free of DUIs and speeding tickets. Insurers advertise rates as low as $29 per month in Georgia. Check out Farm Bureau, State Farm, and GEICO for competitive rates. You can save by maintaining a good driving record and credit history and applying for all available discounts.
Yes, Georgia’s car insurance costs are eighth in the nation in terms of 2020 annual averages. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Georgia’s average is $1,255, which is significantly higher than the national average of $1,047.
Full-coverage auto insurance in Georgia means you have liability coverage plus comprehensive, collision, and medical payments coverage.
The legal requirement for car insurance is at least $25,000 in per-person bodily injury liability coverage, with $50,000 in per-accident bodily injury liability. You must also have $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident.
Uninsured Motorists, 2021 Edition. The Institutes Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar 22).
2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
Is An Electronic Insurance Card Valid? Allstate. (2021, Nov).
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. ConsumerFed.org. (2014, Jan).
Contributory and Comparative Negligence. FindLaw. (2018, Nov 29).
Auto Insurance. Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire. (2022).
Seat Belts. Governors Highway Safety Association. (2022).
2018 Georgia Code – § 40-6-241. Distracted driving; restrictions on operation of wireless telecommunication devices and stand-alone electronic devices; penalty; exceptions. Justia. (2018).