During the 2008 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, a law was passed that requires your automobile insurance carrier to provide revised Uninsured Motorist Coverage unless you reject this coverage in writing. This New Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides additional protection at a higher premium than the coverage you currently have. If you or other eligible insured’s are injured or have property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the New Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides protection that will pay for your damages in addition to the at-fault driver’s Liability Coverage limit up to your New Uninsured Motorist Coverage limit. If you reject the New Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you may select Uninsured Motorist Coverage-Reduced by At-Fault Liability. This coverage is comparable to the coverage you currently have. Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides less protection than the New Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but the Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage is available at a lower premium. Unlike the New Uninsured Motorist Coverage that provides up to a full limit of protection over and above the at fault drivers liability coverage, Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage will only pay up to the difference between the at-fault driver’s Liability Coverage and your Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This means Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage will allow you to collect from the at-fault driver and your Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage, combined, up to the same limit of Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage you have purchased.
Under the official code of Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11, there are three separate rejections/choices to make for an Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) policy. You can 1) reject UM coverage completely, 2) accept UM coverage in an amount lower than your liability limits, or 3) choose add-on or reduced-by coverage. These are important decisions that you should make before you have to make a claim for UM benefits under your Georgia Automobile Liability Insurance policy.
As a Georgia attorney who regularly handles cases involving complex insurance issues, my advice is simple: take as much Uninsured Motorist coverage that you can afford and that your insurance company will allow you to take. Why? Because I have, unfortunately, seen too many cases in which the at-fault driver had minimum coverages (in Georgia this would be $25,000 in liability coverage) and the injuries exceeded the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. Most times in this situation, we look to the client’s UM coverage for excess coverage and make a claim for the UM coverage after exhausting the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, I have also been involved in cases where the UM coverage was rejected by the client or is woefully inadequate to fairly compensate the client for the injuries sustained in the wreck. So, once again, the advice from me: take as much Uninsured Motorist coverage that you can afford and that your insurance company will allow you to take.
There have also been a number of cases in which the insurance company for the client has claimed that the client rejected UM coverage and denied the UM claim. Fortunately for us, the insurance company has the burden of proof in this situation to prove that the insured did, in fact, reject the UM coverage AND that the insurance company complied with the laws of Georgia by properly documenting the rejection of UM coverage. O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11, and other applicable Georgia law require the insurance companies to comply with the law because the results of rejecting UM coverage, as discussed above, can be catastrophic.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.