All too often, auto accident victims don't know what insurance coverage they have until their first meeting with a lawyer. Too often, their automobile insurance is inadequate to cover the damages they have suffered in an auto accident. If you are fortunate enough to be reading this page prior to being involved in an automobile, motorcycle, or truck accident, spend some time with your automobile insurance agent and be sure you understand each and every coverage of your current auto insurance. If you find that coverage’s are inadequate, adjust your auto, truck, or motorcycle insurance policies to protect you and your family in case of an accident. (Click here to return to the main Atlanta accident attorney page. Click for general auto accident lawyer info).
Understand the coverage on the insurance you purchase. Understand the Declaration page ("dec page") for all automobile insurance policies in your household. The dec page is the cover page of your policy that lists the insurance, amounts of coverage, and premiums paid. Ask your insurance agent to explain the coverage in detail. Many people assume they have "full coverage" for family members and that all cars, trucks and motorcycles are insured completely for all losses. It is important for you to understand that there is no such thing as "full coverage". You can purchase liability, collision, comprehensive, property, uninsured-underinsured motorist, medical payments and additional coverage in widely varying amounts. For example, in Georgia you can purchase automobile liability coverage with minimum limits of $25,000.00 or with limits that exceed $2 million. You may be surprised how at how cheaply you can purchase an umbrella policy with $1 million of additional coverage.
Understand what "Uninsured/Underinsured automobile coverage" is. If you take one tip from these notes let it be this: make your insurance agents explain Uninsured/Underinsured coverage. The words Uninsured and Underinsured are sometimes used interchangeably. UM is insurance that you purchase to ensure that you and other car occupants are insured if the at fault driver that hits you has no insurance, or very little relative to injuries caused. Like liability coverage, UM can be purchased in amounts ranging from $25,000 to millions of dollars. But in Georgia, the minimum coverage of $25,000 will only be usable if the fault driver is uninsured. If the fault driver has the minimum liability limits required by Georgia law and you purchase a minimum UM policy of $25,000, then you cannot "stack" or add your UM policy to the fault driver's liability insurance. To "stack", or add to, the other driver's liability policy, your UM policy must have a limit that exceeds the fault driver's liability policy. In plain English, in Georgia if you get hit by someone with liability policy limits of $50,000/$100,000 and you have an uninsured motorist policy of $25,000/$50,000 you wasted your premium. This is a lawyer tip you should take to heart if your finances permit: buy high limits of UM coverage and know that you are covered regardless of what insurance the at fault driver has.
If you financed your automobile via a note (you didn't purchase the car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle with cash but are making monthly payments), the fault driver and/or his liability insurance carrier have no duty to pay off your note should your auto be a total loss. They are responsible to pay for repairs, or, if the repairs exceed the value of the vehicle, then their legal responsibility is to pay for the value of the vehicle at the price it could sell for in the same geographic market. So, if your note is $15,000.00, but your car has high mileage, and it gets totaled, its value may only be $10,000, not the $15,000 you still owe. You cannot sue for the $5000 you still owe on the note. “Gap insurance" will cover the difference between the note and the value of the car if this is a concern in your situation.
(Click here to return to the main Atlanta auto accident attorney page.)
(Click for general auto accident attorney info).