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
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.
Georgia DUI Laws
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.
Seat Belt Laws
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 Laws in Georgia
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
Teen Driving Laws
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.
Statute of Limitations for Claims
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.
Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws
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.
Car Inspection Requirements
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.
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
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.
Accident Reporting Requirements
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.
When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?
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.