Insurance Laws in Georgia
Georgia is a unique state in regard to their car insurance laws and requirements. Firstly, the state is an at-Fault insurance state. Not by itself to be unique, as other states range between at-Fault and no-Fault states. Georgia in this regard is similar to Alaska, where auto insurance is mandatory on any vehicle registered within the state.
These policies ensure that whenever an accident occurs, the person found at-fault not only has to pay recompense to the victim, but also has the means to do so by their mandatory insurance coverage.
Where the state differs to other states slightly is that in Georgia you will never be required by state officials to produce your insurance card as ‘proof of insurance’. Instead, state officials, including law enforcement agencies can simply check the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System (GEICS) a state-wide database to electronically verify your vehicle’s insurance status. Insurance cards are still provided to drivers but simply to provide information as police officers check on their insurance status and use with accidents to provide the drivers involved with the correct information.
Even though Georgia does require insurance their requirements on that insurance policy is relatively low. Minimum requirements include:
Bodily Injury Liability at $25,000 per person and $50,000 for multiple people in an accident;
Property Damage Liability at $25,000 for one incident.
The state does not require other forms of protective insurance such as Property Protection Insurance, Physical Damage Insurance or Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist insurance coverages.
PDL insurance covers the costs of damage to other people’s property but does not cover the damage to your own vehicle or property during an accident. Physical Property Insurance (PPI) covers damage to your own property including your vehicle, protecting it against theft, vandalism, fire losses or against collision damage. PPI is generally purchased as “comprehensive” or “collision” coverage.
Even though PPI is not required by the state of Georgia, most lending institutions will require PPI within the state if you have a loan for your car. This obviously protects their investment while you are repaying the loan on the vehicle.
Higher PPI coverage costs will be incurred if you also buy a car that is on the top 10 list of most stolen cars in the state of Georgia. These cars include:
• Honda Accord
• Chevrolet Full Size Pickup
• Ford Full Size Pickup
• Dodge Caravan
• Honda Civic
• Jeep/Grand Cherokee
• Chevrolet Impala
• Dodge Full Size Pickup
• Toyota Camry
• Ford Explorer
Other optional insurance coverages offered in the state include Uninsured drivers, mainly against out-of-state drivers that may not be covered, medical and funeral services coverage, and rental car coverage. As minimum requirements are stated for drivers to have insurance coverage in the state, Underinsured coverage is not generally used within Georgia.
Get Additional Coverage
While there may be a minimum coverage established by the state, you should consider always getting “more than you need.” In an at-Fault state, any time you are found at fault in a motor vehicle accident you are held liable for the compensation associated with the accident. If the compensation required by negotiation or court-awarded is higher than your insurance coverage, you will be liable for any overages experienced.
For example if you are involved in an accident, injuring the other driver and destroying not only the vehicle but also other property as well, you could be liable in three areas for compensation. If you get the minimum coverage, but damages and liability is assessed at $100,000 for multiple personal injuries and another $50,000 in damages you would be responsible for $75,000 in damages outside of what your insurance provider would cover. This devastating loss could be prevented easily and affordably with upping your coverage based on the states average coverage amounts, instead of its minimum.
Driving without Insurance
Technically for most people this should never happen in Georgia. Once your insurance expires, your provider must inform you of your lapse in insurance. As all providers in the state are required to report to the GEICS on the status of all clients, once that status changes a notification will be sent from the Georgian Department of Driver Services. This notice will inform you of your need to comply with the state regulations. If you fail to comply you may face penalties including fines and a suspension of your driver’s license. You will also not be able to renew your car’s registration.
Lowering your Policy Cost
In Georgia there are no state-mandated discounts, but most insurance providers offer certain discount types. These discounts are generally nation-wide and include a good driver discount for a clean driving record, a good student discount for providing proof of a certain grade point average while attending school and a multiple vehicle discount for more than one car on a policy.
You can also try lowering your insurance costs by staying away from the vehicles listed above as the top cars stolen in Georgia, as well as doing some minor research. Find providers in the state and see which ones offer which discount structures that you may be eligible for. At that point you can negotiate with the providers for the best price on your insurance based on your preliminary research.
Just be sure to include the same types of insurance coverage across all of your quotes to ensure you are getting the same coverage for the same price.
The average policy cost in Georgia is around $1500 annually. If you live in Atlanta, you can expect to pay between $840 and $3606, but the average is $1575. The cheapest insurer in the state, across all cities in a recent study was GEICO, and was also the cheapest in Atlanta at only $840 for a single male. Valdosta was the absolute cheapest car insurance city in the state with an annual cost of only $516.
If you want a policy in Georgia that meets your needs, but also is affordable be sure to check out rates from GEICO, USAA (military members and families only) or Country Financial insurance companies.