Clients frequently ask me how much automobile insurance they should have? Having full coverage means different things to different people. Whether you chose to buy towing and rental car reimbursement should not be as important as having sufficient UM (underinsured motorist or med pay coverage). Having adequate UM coverage indicates that you are concerned about protecting the people in your car as well as yourself. Unfortunately, the time to look over your insurance policy usually happens after the accident when its too late to increase the coverage one should really carry. Each person should regularly look at their own policy and make sure that they are adequately insured in case of an accident. By the time they call Powers Law Group, the client is probably not at fault for causing the accident, but in need of a trial lawyer. This is when we can help you make the right decisions about handling your case.
[box type=”info”] Car Insurance Laws in Georgia[/box]
- First, the State of Georgia only requires one who gets a car-tag to have the minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000. This coverage pays when a vehicle owner is at fault and that driver is responsible for the harm they caused to the another motorist, pedestrian, passenger in a car or bicyclist. Remember this insurance coverage does not pay for medical treatment for the at-fault driver. A driver in Georgia must carry this insurance on their car or they cannot get a license plate or renew that tag at their local DMV office.
- Second, if you only buy the bare minimum insurance you can also get a Underinsured or Uninsured insurance policy for the same limits of $25,000 which protects “you or the people in your car” when your car is in an accident. If you want to have more UM insurance, you need to increase your liability insurance coverage. This is what we recommend you do right now.
- Third, you should also have medical payment insurance coverage on your OWN insurance policy. This is because if you and your passengers are injured in an accident, your “med pay” insurance pays those persons medical bills directly to the providers. Many people wrongly assume that if they are in a car wreck, the other person’s insurance will pay their medical bills. This is not the law nor is it the duty of the at-fault party’s insurance company. Questions of how the accident happened, who is at fault and is there anyone else to blame (i.e. an unknown motorist may have contributed to the accident) may have to be answered. The bottom line is that if you get medical treatment, you owe that provider or hospital for services rendered. It’s like eating in a restaurant, “if you ordered it, you bought it,” and must therefore pay for what you ordered.
- Fourth, everyone should buy as much UM insurance as they can afford. For example, a recent case we handled at Powers Law Group, was when our client was hit from the rear in his car by a driver who had $25,000 in liability insurance. Our client had $100,000 in UM insurance but it was the traditional UM coverage and not added – on which would have given him a total possible recovery of $25,000 from the liability insurer and only $75,000 in coverage from his own policy. Our client was taken to a hospital where he was examined and then treated for several weeks at a chiropractor and then, eventually, a neurosurgeon operated on his back. His medical bills were in excess of $100,000 and, thankfully, were paid by his wife’s own group health insurance. The health insurer had a subrogation right (they could get their $$$ back) in our recovery because that is what the contract between the policy holder required our client do if he was ever in an accident.We were successful in obtaining the full policy limits from the liability insurer ($25,000) and our client’s own UM ($75,000 coverage). We then had to help the client negotiate his health insurance lien to put as much of the recovery in the client’s hands. Had the client had more in UM insurance, he most certainly would have recovered more from the settlement of his case. The difference in the client having more UM insurance was less than $100 for another $150,000 in coverage. That’s why, at Powers Law Group, we encourage our clients to periodically review their auto insurance policies and make sure they are fully insured. If you can afford it, ask your insurance agent to give you a quote on an Umbrella Insurance policy. This policy can be tied to your homeowners insurance and your cars or trucks.
- Fifth, let’s examine another scenario: You are rear-ended in a car accident on I-75 southbound. Your airbags deployed and you have a brief loss of consciousness and perhaps short-term memory loss. Paramedics, law enforcement and emergency personnel arrive on the scene. You are bleeding from a part of your face and you cannot feel your feet and cannot walk. A decision is made to have you put on a board and transported to the closest hospital. At the hospital, you are seen by several nurses, physician assistants, an emergency room doctor, a neurologist and perhaps an orthopaedic or vascular surgeon. Medical personnel order CT scans, x-rays, maybe an MRI and a decision to operate is made as your closest relative gives consent for the invasive procedure. At this point, there is a good chance $30,000 in medical bills have already occurred. If you do not have medical insurance or medical pay insurance, who will pay your medical bills? Do you have enough UM insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses?
You need a personal injury trial lawyer and someone who can provide advice on what to do with having to pay these medical providers and seek follow up medical treatment. In summary, if you get the treatment, you have to pay the providers for the services rendered. Our firm represents people from all over Georgia in cases such as this.