Georgia, like most states, requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Mandatory car insurance can feel stifling at times, but it exists to protect you, as well as other drivers on the road. Georgia experiences more than a quarter-million traffic accidents annually and without appropriate car insurance, many of these accidents can leave drivers paying far more out of pocket than they can afford.
When driving in Georgia, it’s essential to know the Georgia auto insurance requirements. Not only will following these laws prevent citations but maintaining appropriate car insurance can help prevent a financial disaster.
Car Insurance Laws in Georgia
Georgia requires that all drivers be insured with at least basic liability auto insurance. These policies have two primary considerations: bodily injury and property damage. Each of these categories has minimum amounts of coverage under Georgia car insurance laws. Bodily injury is related to damages sustained by another driver and the associated medical cost. Property damage covers damages to the other driver’s vehicle. Below are the required minimums for each of these coverages.
- Bodily injury minimum: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident
- Property damage minimum: $25,000 per incident
Liability Insurance in Georgia
Georgia car insurance laws require basic liability insurance. Liability insurance is designed to help the at-fault party cover the incurred expenses of an accident as they will be responsible for any damage done to the other driver’s car and any medical expenses.
For example, if you run a stop sign and hit another driver then you would be responsible for the damages caused to both the other driver and their vehicle. In this case, Georgia’s legal minimum of auto insurance would provide up to $25,000 towards the other driver’s bodily injuries and $25,000 for property damage.
However, with minimum insurance you can run into a variety of financial problems. First, if you are the at-fault party then you will be responsible for not only the expenses of the driver you hit but also your own expenses. In this case, Georgia’s minimum required insurance would only cover the costs of the other driver. Second, if the costs incurred in the accident are higher than the minimum then the at-fault driver will be responsible for covering any outstanding costs out of pocket.
As such, it can be a good idea to purchase additional car insurance coverage that is more than the mandatory minimum.
Is Georgia a No Fault State?
There are a few no-fault states, but Georgia isn’t one of them. Like most of the country, Georgia is an at-fault state (also called a tort system state). One, or more, of the parties involved in an auto accident will be deemed liable for the damages caused. This is significant for drivers because it means that the driver at-fault for a car accident will be financially responsible for it. This system highlights the importance of auto insurance minimums.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Georgia
Those who drive without auto insurance in Georgia may face several penalties. They may be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $1,000, have their license suspended for 2-3 months and potentially face up to a year of jail time. As with most states, these penalties cover a range of potential consequences. In general, first-time offenders are penalized less than repeat offenders.
Additional Auto Insurance Coverage Options in Georgia
Georgia insurance laws set minimums relatively low and don’t cover damages sustained by the at-fault driver. For this reason, many people choose to extend and add to their auto insurance policies. These changes can be made by increasing coverage limits on a liability policy or adding further protections like comprehensive, collision and uninsured motorist insurance. Below are the most common additional coverages offered in Georgia.
Collision insurance covers damages sustained to your vehicle while it is in use. Whether the collision is with a tree, another car or some debris on the road, collision insurance can help with costs as long as the vehicle was in use when the incident occurred. The average cost of collision insurance is around $290 per year.
Comprehensive insurance covers damages that your vehicle sustains while it is not in use. For instance, if a branch falls on your car while the car is parked in the driveway, comprehensive could cover the cost of repairs. However, if you were driving the vehicle when a limb fell on the car, comprehensive would not cover it. The average cost of comprehensive insurance is around $134 per year.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured motorist is a form of insurance that can protect you in the situation where a driver without insurance causes an auto incident with you. It’s a bit like carrying an additional liability policy that protects you instead of others. Costs for these policies vary but are generally much cheaper than a basic liability policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best car insurance company in Georgia?
The best car insurance company can differ a lot, depending on the driver and the circumstances. That’s why experts recommend shopping around before deciding on a company and a policy. You’ll want to consider things like independent ratings of the companies, available rates and discounts and the company’s financial stability.
What is the cheapest car insurance in Georgia?
Rates can vary significantly between both companies and drivers, so it’s always best to shop around between a few different companies to find the best deals. For cheap car insurance it’s a good idea to look at a combination of both starting rates and available discounts – that way you can avoid sacrificing quality for a lower price.