It is estimated that there are 32 million uninsured drivers in the United States. And even if the driver who hits you does have insurance, there is a strong possibility that the driver doesn’t have ENOUGH insurance to cover the full cost of your injuries.
That is why uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage exists, and everyone is encouraged to get this kind of insurance coverage, which is commonly called UM coverage. UM coverage may be especially useful in Georgia, where it is estimated that about 13% of drivers are uninsured, and that is likely a low estimate.
Why UM coverage is so important
In short, you need UM coverage so you can be sure that you have enough insurance to cover your lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other expenses that arise if you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
For example, in Georgia, the law requires drivers to have auto insurance at least in these 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
But the reality is that those amounts will come nowhere close to covering the costs of an accident resulting in serious injuries, so UM coverage is strongly recommended. Also, UM coverage may be your only option if you are injured in a hit-and-run collision and the other driver cannot be located.
How do I get UM coverage?
You can add UM coverage to your insurance policy, generally at a very small additional cost that you pay in your premium.
In fact, many people already have UM coverage added to their policy but don’t know it. For more on the recommended amounts of UM coverage to add, please see our overview of uninsured motorist claims in Georgia.
Important distinction: Add-On UM coverage versus Offset UM coverage
In short, it is much better to purchase Add-On UM coverage rather than Offset UM coverage. Here’s why:
With Add-On UM insurance, your coverage will be in addition to whatever the liability limits are for the at-fault driver. For example, if the at-fault driver has liability limits of $25,000 per person, and you have $25,000 in UM coverage, you can add on your UM of $25,000 after you use up the $25,000 from the other driver’s liability coverage.
However, with Offset UM coverage, the same scenario would play out like this: The at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability limits per person, while you have $25,000 in Offset UM coverage, so your UM coverage would not come into play. Instead, it is offset by the other driver’s liability limit. For the Offset UM coverage to come into play, you would need to have $50,000 in Offset UM. Then, after the $25,000 in liability limits is used up, you could use $25,000 of your Offset UM coverage.
So, essentially, when you have Offset or traditional UM coverage, the UM carrier gets a credit for whatever amount of liability coverage the at-fault driver had. The difference between Add-On and Offset UM coverage is even more dramatic if the policy limits are higher: for example, $100,000. If you have Offset UM of $100,000 and the at-fault driver has $100,000 in liability limits, you are losing up to $100,000 in recovery money by not having Add-On UM coverage.
If you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, be sure to talk to a personal injury attorney about your full range of options for getting the compensation you need and deserve. It’s extremely difficult to navigate insurance matters on your own, and a personal injury attorney with experience in these matters can help.