Georgia law requires that all vehicle owners carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. This insurance pays for injuries if the person, or someone using their vehicle, ever causes an accident. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law and buys this insurance, and some people let it lapse, meaning they aren’t covered. In other cases, the person does have insurance, but the total coverage they bought isn’t enough to cover all of your injuries. Estimates on the number of accidents like this vary, but unfortunately it’s very common.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t covered. You may be covered—even if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance—if you have a special type of coverage known as Uninsured Motorist/Under-Insured Motorist (UM/IUM) coverage. Many drivers have this insurance without even realizing it.
UM/UIM is insurance that you carry (and pay for), which covers you when:
- The driver at fault doesn’t have insurance
- They don’t have enough insurance
- They fled the scene or otherwise can’t be found
- They hit you when you were on foot or on a bicycle, and your car insurance wouldn’t normally apply
What are the different types of UM/UIM insurance?
There are two types of uninsured motorist insurance:
- “Reducing” or “non-stacking” UM insurance. This is the traditional kind of UM policy. With this coverage, the total amount of your policy is reduced by any insurance the other party has. So, for example, if you have $100,000 in UM insurance, and the other party has $75,000 in insurance, their insurance pays out first and your insurance only pays the difference ($25,000). Another way to put it would be: with reducing UM insurance, the amount you’re insured for is the maximum you can get, but you’ll usually get less.
- “Add-on,” “excess” or “stacking” UM insurance. This is a newer form of UM/UIM insurance introduced by the legislature in 2009. When it’s available, it’s the better type of UM insurance to buy. With this kind of insurance, your UM coverage is added to any insurance the other party has. So if they have $75,000 in coverage and you have $100,000 of UM coverage, you are effectively covered for up to $175,000 in costs. This is far superior to the older, “reducing” model of UM coverage.
How do I know if I have UM/UIM insurance?
Some car owners specifically request this insurance and know that they’re covered. Even if you didn’t do this, however, you may actually have UM coverage. Car insurance companies in Georgia are required by law to offer you this kind of coverage when you sign up for car insurance. In other words, unless you actually checked a box saying you didn’t want it, there’s a good chance you have it. You can call your insurance agent and ask if you want to find out for sure.
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