UM/UIM—Claims and Waiver
This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of ‘Do I Need a Lawyer?’ hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
In one of our prior shows, I explained how having uninsured motorist coverage is the best way to protect you or the uninsured driver.
Or from the at fault driver that has only the minimum insurance limits.
Joining me now to talk more about this coverage is Sarah Low, an attorney that works with me at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates.
Sarah, thanks for joining us this morning.
Sarah: Good morning, Gary.
Gary: OK Sarah, let’s talk about Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance coverage in Georgia and how you can protect yourself.
Sarah: Gary, I think it is important for our viewers to know that uninsured motorist coverage is “optional coverage” in Georgia. Hopefully, the more informed consumers know about UM, the more will make a wise choice an add UM.
Gary: Tell us when does “uninsured motorist insurance coverage” becomes important:
Sarah: If you are involved in a wreck, and the at-fault party’s coverage has lapsed or is denied for other policy reasons, then that driver becomes “uninsured” under Georgia law. This means there is no available insurance coverage from the at fault party.
If you have UM coverage, you can pursue these damages through your insurance company.
Gary: UM is essentially an insurance policy to protect you if the defendant doesn’t have insurance.
Think of it this way.
Assume a Defendant causes a wreck, but he did not have insurance coverage. We would then look to our client’s insurance coverage to determine if there is any uninsured motorist coverage.
For example—Defendant—no insurance coverage
Client– $50K UM
This Means—Client’s company would provide coverage to him as though the Defendant had $50k in liability coverage.
Gary: Yes, there are too many people driving around without insurance coverage or in vehicles that are not adequately insured.
Sarah: That’s right Gary. If an injured victim does not have uninsured motorist coverage, his only recourse is to sue the person individually to try to recover anything, which can be an expensive headache.
Gary: Sarah, how do you know what types of uninsured motorist coverage are available?
Sarah: In Georgia, the law regarding uninsured motorist coverage changed on January 1, 2009, to provide for a few types of UM coverage choices and how those choices are made:
For policies issued, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, an insured can elect to carry:
· No UM coverage;
· Minimum limits “reduced” UM coverage;
· “Reduced” UM coverage (equal to or less than liability coverage);
· Minimum limits “added on” UM coverage;
· “Added On” UM coverage (equal to or less than liability coverage).
Gary: And Sarah, many drivers don’t know that while GA law requires drivers to carry minimum liability coverage, it does not require drivers to carry any UM coverage.
Sarah: That’s right.
Let me give viewers a few quick hypotheticals **GRAPHIC**:
· Defendant causes a wreck and does not have valid liability insurance. The injured victim DOES have uninsured motorist insurance coverage of $25k. The insured would have $25k available.
Gary: What about an example with under-insured motorist’s coverage:
· Defendant causes a wreck and does have valid liability insurance with minimum limits of $25k. The injured victim DOES have uninsured / under-insured motorist insurance coverage of $25k “traditional/reduced” coverage. The insured would have only the liability coverage of $25k available to him because the UM coverage is subtracted from the amount of liability available.
· $25k (liability)- $25k (UM/UIM)= $0.00
Gary: The injured person is not under-insured as both policies are equal.
Sarah: But let me show you what happens if you have add-on UM/UIM coverage:
· Defendant causes a wreck and does have valid liability insurance with minimum limits of $25k. The injured victim DOES have under-insured motorist insurance coverage of $50k “add on/excess” coverage. The insured would have the liability coverage of $25k available to him, along with his $50k UIM policy because they do not subtract the liability coverage from the available limits.
· $25k (liability)+ $50k (UM)= $75K
Gary: So how do drivers know what type of uninsured motorist coverage they have?
Sarah: This is where legal help is a must. For our clients, we immediately request a copy of their policy and application page to see what coverage is available for our clients.
I would suggest consumers review their policy immediately – before it’s too late – and make sure you have UM/UIM coverage.