Liability Insurance in Georgia
Getting Liability Insurance in Georgia
When most people think of auto insurance in Georgia, they think of liability insurance. While it’s the most common type of auto insurance in Georgia, it can also be the most confusing. Here, we’ll cover the basics of liability insurance: what it is, how much you need, and whether it’s enough to protect you and your car in Georgia.
As in almost every other state in the U.S., Georgia requires that its drivers maintain adequate liability insurance coverage. There are severe penalties for being caught driving without proper insurance coverage. Liability auto insurance in Georgia helps pay damages to other drivers and passengers if they were injured or if their car is damaged in an accident and you’re at fault.
To determine fault for a car accident, Georgia applies a rule known as “modified comparative negligence” or “modified comparative fault.” This means that if you are found to be 30% responsible for an accident, you are responsible for 30% of the damages to the other driver(s). However, if you are found to be at least 50% at fault for an accident, then you may not recover any compensation from the other driver(s). In practice, this means that only one driver can recover damages from the other driver in an accident involving two drivers. In an accident involving three or more drivers, then each driver may be entitled to partial compensation from the other drivers, depending on the circumstances.
Know the Law About Georgia Liability Insurance
In Georgia, even if you’re not at fault for an accident, then you may still not be entitled to compensation from the other driver. According to Georgia law, if a driver could have avoided an accident “by the use of ordinary care,” then the driver is not entitled to financial compensation, regardless of who’s at fault.
Also, keep in mind that Georgia takes liability insurance very seriously. If you are caught driving without valid insurance, then your license could be suspended for up to three months, and you’ll face a fine of at least $200 as well. Depending on the circumstances, you could even face jail time. You’ll also be charged with a misdemeanor, which will stay on your record permanently.
That said, Georgia does offer a grace period if you simply forgot to renew your liability insurance policy. As soon as your old policy expires, your auto insurance company is required by law to notify the DMV. If you can show that there was no lapse in coverage — for example, because you switched car insurance companies — then all you need to do is send the new policy to the DMV. But if there are more than ten days in between coverage periods, then you’ll need to pay a $25 lapse fee. If you don’t show the DMV proof of liability insurance coverage within 30 days, your vehicle registration will be suspended.
What Is the Minimum Liability Insurance You Need in Georgia?
By law, all Georgia drivers must maintain liability insurance that covers the following:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per incident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per incident
These limits are often abbreviated as $25,000/$50,000/$25,000, or 25/50/25.
Bodily injury liability covers medical bills and other costs if someone is injured or killed in an accident and you’re at fault. In Georgia, the minimum liability coverage will pay up to $25,000 per person. If there are multiple people injured in an accident — for example, passengers — then the minimum liability coverage in Georgia will pay up to $50,000 in total for all medical bills.
Property damage liability covers repair costs to the other driver’s car and other property damage in an accident — for example, to buildings or fences.
Examples of How Liability Insurance Claims Work in Georgia
Example 1: At-Fault Accident Within the Insurance Policy Limits
Jimmy is involved in a car accident with Laura. It is determined that Jimmy is 80% at fault for the accident, and Laura is 20% at fault. Laura is injured in the accident and has $10,000 in medical bills. The damage to her car is $5,000. Both drivers have the minimum required liability insurance in Georgia ($25,000/$50,000/$25,000).
How Liability Insurance Works for Jimmy and Laura
- Since Jimmy is 80% at fault for the accident, Laura is entitled to file a claim for 80% of her total bills. This amounts to $8,000 for her medical bills and $4,000 for property damage.
- Laura makes a claim with Jimmy’s liability insurance company. His insurance company then compensates Laura with $12,000 ($8,000 + $4,000).
- Since Jimmy is at least 50% at fault for the accident, he isn’t entitled to receive any compensation from Laura’s liability insurance company. He must pay for his medical bills as well as the damage to his car.
Example 2: At-Fault Accident Beyond the Insurance Policy Limits
Charlie is involved in a car accident with Mike. Mike is found to be 90% at fault for the accident, while Charlie is found to be 10% at fault. The damage to Mike’s new car is $30,000, and his medical costs are $40,000. Both drivers have the minimum required liability insurance in Georgia ($25,000/$50,000/$25,000).
How Liability Insurance Works for Charlie and Mike
- Since Mike is 90% at fault, Charlie can claim 90% of his total bills. This results in $36,000 for his medical bills and $27,000 for property damage. The combined amount is, therefore, $63,000.
- Charlie makes a claim with Mike’s liability insurance company. The insurance company pays Charlie up to the policy limits of Mike’s liability insurance policy. In other words, Charlie receives $25,000 for his medical bills and $25,000 for property damage, for a total of $50,000.
- Charlie still has $11,000 in medical bills and $2,000 in property damage after being compensated by Mike’s liability insurance company. Therefore, Charlie can sue Mike in court for the remaining $13,000.
- Since Mike was at least 50% at fault for the accident, he cannot receive any compensation from Charlie’s liability insurance company. He must cover his medical bills and car repair costs on his own.
Example 3: Accident With Two Equally At-Fault Drivers
Maria is involved in a car accident with Crystal. Both drivers are found to be 50% at fault, and both drivers have the minimum required liability insurance in Georgia ($25,000/$50,000/$25,000).
How Liability Insurance Works for Maria and Crystal
- Since both drivers are at least 50% at fault for the accident, neither person can claim compensation from the other person’s liability insurance company.
- Both Maria and Crystal must cover their personal medical bills and car repair costs on their own.
Is the Minimum Liability Insurance in Georgia Enough Protection?
Keep in mind that if you are found to be responsible for bodily injury or property damage that exceeds your insurance policy limits, then you can be sued in court to cover the difference. If the court finds you liable, you would have to pay the amount out of your pocket.
In addition, health and car repair costs have been rising quickly in Georgia, and the minimum insurance requirements haven’t necessarily kept up. That’s why it’s recommended to take out a liability policy that exceeds the minimum requirements. Though it may seem like you’re throwing away money now, paying just a few extra dollars a month can save you thousands in the future — not to mention the headache of being sued!
In addition, you may be in a situation where you’re involved in a car accident with someone who’s underinsured or not insured at all. Even if the other driver is at fault, your minimum liability coverage will not protect you. That’s why many drivers opt for uninsured motorist coverage, which would cover your medical and repair bills in this situation. Without uninsured motorist coverage in Georgia, your only other option for compensation would be to sue the other driver in court, which could take months or even years.
Finally, liability insurance coverage does not pay for the costs to repair your car if you’re at fault for an accident. If you absolutely need your vehicle to get to work or school, then liability insurance alone may not be enough if your car is seriously damaged. For this reason, people who need their vehicle to get to work have a collision insurance policy as well. Collision insurance covers the repairs to your car if you’re involved in an accident and are found to be at fault. That way, drivers can get their car repaired fairly quickly so they can get back to work or school as soon as possible.
Get a Custom Liability Quote for Georgia Today!
Don’t get caught without liability insurance in Georgia! The risk of getting fined and having your license suspended is just not worth it. Instead, make sure you’re getting the best value for liability insurance by comparing quotes. Get started with a quote online, visit us at one of our 23 offices across the state, or call us at 877-831-4677 for a quote.