Uninsured motorist coverage can be added to your car insurance policy. The additional cost is relatively small, and you pay it with your premium. Uninsured motorist coverage (often called “UM coverage”) allows you to recover compensation for bodily injury after an accident that was caused by someone who has no insurance or not enough insurance. UM coverage can also be used if a hit-and-run driver causes an accident and can’t be located.
If you have auto insurance, you are strongly encouraged to add UM coverage to your policy. UM coverage is not mandatory, but without it, you could face overwhelming costs if you are seriously injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, or a hit-and-run driver.
Why UM Coverage Is So Important
In Georgia, the law requires drivers to have at least a minimum of auto insurance. These are the minimum required amounts:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 for one person injured
- Bodily injury liability: $50,000 total for multiple people injured
- Property damage liability: $25,000
The reality is that those amounts will come nowhere close to covering your medical expenses and other costs if you suffer a catastrophic injury in a car accident. For example, if the crash was caused by a driver with only the minimum coverage, it likely won’t cover the cost of your medical care, lost income, pain and suffering, and other expenses resulting from the accident.
That is why we encourage everyone to have UM coverage added to their auto insurance. In many cases, people already have UM coverage, but they aren’t aware of it.
Types of UM Coverage
There are two types of UM coverage: 1) offset and 2) add-on.
Offset UM Coverage
With offset UM coverage, you really need to have more UM coverage than the at-fault driver has in liability coverage. For example, if the at-fault driver has minimum liability limits of $25,000, and you only have $25,000 in UM limits, your UM coverage is offset by the amount of the other driver’s liability coverage — and you cannot use your UM coverage.
However, if the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, and you have $50,000 in UM coverage, you can get the $25,000 from the at-fault driver (their policy limits) and then you can get an additional $25,000 from your UM coverage. In other words, you subtract the $25,000 liability limits from the $50,000 in UM limits, and you get the difference, which you can use in UM coverage. That is the offset.
Add-On UM Coverage
The better kind of UM coverage is add-on. It means just what it says. Whatever the liability limits on the case, once you hit those, you can add on your UM coverage, regardless of how much UM coverage you have.
So with the prior scenario: the at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability limits; you have $25,000 in add-on UM limits. You can stack the $25,000 UM limits on top of the liability limits of $25,000. So it is better to get add-on UM coverage because then your UM insurance carrier never gets the offset if the at-fault driver had liability coverage equal to or more than what you have in UM coverage.
Get the Legal Help You Need to Maximize Your Coverage
Whatever your situation may be, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore every available option for getting the medical care and financial compensation you need after an accident. These things are difficult to do on your own, especially if you’re coping with an injury. It’s best to have a legal professional on your side to assess your particular situation and handle your claim from start to finish.
To learn more about the recommended amounts of UM coverage to get, please see our overview of UM coverage in Georgia.