In a moment, I will reproduce the long and confusing letter I received last week from my Atlanta insurer. But before I do, I want to give you the free legal advice I promised: Do NOT reject the revised uninsured motorist coverage that is now being offered to all Georgia drivers. I can provide this advice without knowing you. Without knowing your financial status; without knowing your age, income, driving history, medical history, neighborhood in which you live, or anything else about you. Why? Because the new law benefits all drivers. You see, the insurance industry fought hard against this law because it requires them to provide more coverage for a very small added premium. It’s funny how that works. The insurance companies lobby with all their might to stop a bill from passing. Most times, they claim it is a bad bill for consumers. But, the reality is: insurance companies lobby against bills that are good for the consumer and which cost insurance companies money.
I am sad to say that many potential clients have come to me after sustaining catastrophic injuries resulting from the negligence of an un-insured (or under-insured) driver. This is the exact situation in which your uninsured motorist coverage should kick in to help you, if you have it. But under the old law, your insurance company was entitled to a “set-off” which reduced the amount of your uninsured motorist coverage by the amount of the at-fault parties liability insurance. Many times, this setoff wiped out your uninsured motorist coverage and resulted in the insurance company not having to pay you anything for your injuries. This unjust outcome is now addressed by the new law, unless you reject this added coverage in writing. Simply stated once again: don’t reject the added coverage, it is invaluable and costs next to nothing to get, yet provides an invaluable source of insurance coverage should you get into a bad wreck with a driver who is not insured or who is under-insured.
The following is a reproduction of the letter I received from my insurance company. To be sure, it is long and it is confusing. I am pretty sure that the insurance company has done this on purpose, in the hopes that some who are confused by the letter will reject the new coverage. Here is the letter:
“According to our records, your policy contains Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This important coverage provides protection for you, your family, your passengers while occupying your vehicle, or another driver operating this car with your permission, when another at-fault driver is legally responsible for your injuries or property damage but that driver does not have any automobile liability insurance. Coverage may apply if the at-fault driver has liability insurance but the amount of insurance is less than the damages you sustained in the accident. the actual terms of this coverage are governed by Georgia law.
During the 2008 Session of the Georgia Assembly, a law was passed that requires us to provide revised Uninsured Motorist Coverage unless you reject this coverage in writing. We refer to this new coverage as Uninsured Motorist Coverage-Added on to At-Fault Liability Limits, hereinafter referred to as “New Uninsured Motorist Coverage”. This New Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides additional protection at a higher premium than the coverage you currently have.
If you or other eligible insureds 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 drivers Liability Coverage limit up to your New Uninsured Motorist Coverage limit.
If you reject the Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you may select Uninsured Motorist Coverage-Reduced by At-Fault Liability Limits hereinafter referred to as “Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage”. This coverage is comparable to the coverage you currently have. Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides less coverage 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 drivers 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.
The two uninsured motorist coverage choices do not differ if the at-fault driver responsible for your injuries or property damage does not have any Liability Coverage. In such cases, both New Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Traditional Uninsured Motorist Coverage will up to the amount of Uninsured Motorist Coverage purchased. We understand that these coverage choices can be confusing…”
Don’t be confused by the insurance company double talk, such as the example letter above. Do not reject the New Uninsured Motorist Coverage. At Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall we have a great deal of experience in dealing with insurance coverage issues because these issues are a part of any serious personal injury case that we handle. We work hard to get you all that you are entitled to under Georgia law, not just want the insurance company wants to pay.