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1) What do the numbers 25/50/25 mean on my policy?
The numbers "25/50/25" is an abbreviated summary of your policy coverage, if you have Georgia's minimum insurance coverage.
25/50/25: The first number is the "per person" bodily injury policy limits. Here, the "25" stands for "$25,000" per person liability coverage for bodily injuries under your policy.
25/50/25: The second number is the "per incident" liability limits for bodily injuries. In this case, there is a $50,000 per incident bodily injury limits.
25/50/25: Finally, the last number is the liability coverage for property damage. It is also $25,000 in this example.
If you have more than the state's minimum insurance coverage, these numbers will appear differently but mean the same thing. For instance, if your policy shows "100/300/100," that means you have $100,000 per person liability coverage for bodily injuries, $300,000 per incident liability coverage for bodily injuries, and $100,000 property damage coverage.
2) Who is considered an "insured" on a car insurance liability policy?
For purposes of liability coverage, the insurance policy will provide coverage for the person named as the insured on the policy, their spouse and resident relatives, as well as anyone driving the vehicle with the owner's permission.
3) Can someone drive my car if they are not on my insurance?
Generally, yes, someone can drive your car and still be covered under your insurance policy even though they are not specifically identified on your car insurance policy.
Legally, these are identified as the "permissive use" drivers because you have given the driver permission to use your vehicle. Common examples include family members, friends, and co-workers.
4) Can someone not on my insurance drive me car?
Anyone can drive your car and be covered under your insurance policy as long as they have your permission.
For example, if you loan your vehicle to a friend very briefly to run a few errands and they cause a collision, your insurance policy for that vehicle will provide coverage.
5) Do I have to notify my car insurance after a car accident?
Technically, you are not legally required to report the collision to your car insurance carrier after a car accident, but that would likely be a mistake.
Your insurance policy is a contract, and the terms of the policy always control your duties and obligations. In order for your policy to provide you coverage, the collision must be timely reported to your insurance carrier. The specific time limitations are usually identified within each policy.
Failure to report the collision is a breach of contract. So, the insurance carrier can deny you insurance coverage and benefits if you fail to report he incident.
It's recommended that you always report the collision, even if you believe you are not at-fault.
6) What is a Declaration’s Page?
A declarations page is a document provided by your insurance company that summarizes the coverage provided by your automobile insurance policy.
The "dec page" contains the most pertinent information regarding your automobile insurance, such as property damage coverage, bodily injury coverage, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage.
7) What does car insurance cover?
Car insurance coverage depends on the policy.
An at-fault driver’s insurance should provide coverage for all property damage and bodily injury.
But, insurance companies do not give money away. The at-fault driver’s insurance will not eagerly pay a victim any money. It will only begin to pay anything when it accepts fault.
A victim’s car insurance may also provide additional coverage. For instance, a victim’s car insurance may provide medical payments coverage to pay for medical expenses. Or, the victim may have rental car coverage.
8) How do I open a claim with an insurance carrier?
Opening a claim is easy - it's how you should open the claim that is important.
You can open a claim by simply calling the insurance carrier's telephone number and providing them the relevant, undisputed details, namely:
the policy number;
your name; and
the location, date, and time of the collision.
The problem with this approach is that the telephone calls are almost always recorded. And, the adjuster will have plenty of opportunities to question you about improper details by stating they need the details to "open a claim."
It's better to send a letter, via fax or email and certified mail, stating you'd like to open a claim. Attach a copy of the police report, which should provide more than enough information for the claim to be opened.
9) Is my property damage claim different from my bodily injury claim?
Property damage claims and bodily injury claims are treated differently.
Motor vehicle policies are divided into two broad parts:
property damage, and
After a motor vehicle collision, a different adjuster is assigned to handled each respective claim.
Once you settle a property damage claim, you can't seek to "make up the difference" with a bodily injury claim - and vice versa.
10) What is a claim adjuster?
An adjuster is an insurance representative whose sole job is to handle the claim to which they are assigned.
They specialize in handling car accident claims.
They are "successful" if they are able to resolve a claim - and therefore pay money - for an amount less than you truly deserve.
11) What is a claim number?
A claim number is the identifying number insurance companies use to associate with a specific event or occurrence.
The claim number is needed any time a particular case is discussed with an adjuster.
For instance, though a motor vehicle collision may have a property damage adjuster and a separate bodily injury adjuster, the claims are both associated with the same claim number.
12) What are the minimum limits of coverage in Georgia for auto insurance policies?
In Georgia, the minimum coverage limits depends on the claim involved.
For liability claims involving bodily injury, the minimum coverage limits are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per collision.
Similarly, there is a $25,000 minimum liability coverage for property damage.
If there is no liability coverage available or if the liability coverage is insufficient, Georgia requires a minimum of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per collision of uninsured/underinsured coverage (UM/UIM). A policyholder can opt-out of uninsured/underinsured coverage, though.
13) What is an excluded driver?
An excluded driver is someone that a policyholder intentionally asks their auto insurance provider not to cover – or exclude – from the policy coverage.
Once a person is excluded from an insurance policy, that person will not be covered by the vehicle’s insurance policy if they are in an accident.
14) Will my rates go up if I was not at fault?
Theoretically, a person’s car insurance rates should not increase if they are not at-fault.
Unfortunately, rates may increase depending on the circumstances involved in the collision, the driver’s history of making claims, and the type of insurance coverage.
If the at-fault driver denies responsibility, your insurance premiums may increase. Or, if you have a history of filing multiple, questionable claims, your premiums may also increase.
15) How long will the car accident stay on my insurance record?
The typical rule of thumb is that a motor vehicle collision will stay on your insurance record for three years.
But, this is not to be confused with your driving record.
The "points" on your driving record are different than your insurance record. The insurance record follows your driving patterns and violations in order to assess risk. This way, the insurance carrier can charge an insurance premium that reflects the level of risk that you may pose. These premiums are valued based on the insurance carrier's own internal modeling and formulas.
Meanwhile, the "points" on your driving record are used by the state for licensing purposes.
16) What is Medical Payments coverage?
Medical Payments coverage can be part of automobile insurance. It is elective – or optional – coverage that helps pay medical costs in a way similar to health insurance.
"Med Pay" can be used in several ways, such as by paying for the entire medical bills, covering co-pays required by your health insurance, or by reimbursing health insurance for their subrogation claims.
Medical Payments coverage can also be used to cover medical expenses for other individuals, such as your family and anyone else in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
17) What does UM/UIM mean?
UM (uninsured motorist) and UIM (underinsured motorist) is part of the same bodily injury coverage on an automobile insurance policy.
The coverage applies only when the at-fault driver is uninsured, or does not have any insurance.
Alternatively, it also applies when the at-fault driver lacks enough insurance to cover all of your bodily injuries, which is considered an underinsured motorist.
18) How long does it take to open a claim?
An insurance claim can be opened immediately after a collision or incident. Simply call the insurance carrier, disclose that you’d like to open a claim, and provide them relevant details.
The time it takes to resolve the claim is different. Insurance companies have almost no incentive to give money away without a fight.
19) Does auto insurance cover medical bills?
An at-fault driver’s auto insurance company should be responsible to either cover the entire medical bill or reimburse your health insurer for the amounts it paid.
But, the insurance companies don’t make it that simple. Instead, when the insurance company offers to settle your claim, you are responsible to pay, or reimburse, medical expenses out of the total settlement.
20) Can an auto insurance company deny a claim?
An auto insurance company can deny a claim for several reasons.
Most often, an at-fault driver’s insurance company will deny a claim if their driver is not clearly proven to be responsible for causing the collision.
In rarer cases, the insurance company will deny coverage if the collision falls outside the terms of the policy. This usually occurs when the collision is caused by an excluded driver. Or, the collision results from an intentional or criminal act.
21) What happens if my medical bills exceed the car insurance available?
Theoretically, the at-fault driver could be personally responsible for paying your medical bills to the extent that these bills exceed the available car insurance.
But, this is not a likely scenario because of the practical realities of enforcing payment.
More often, the at-fault driver will exhaust all of their available insurance coverage. Then, an experienced attorney can help resolve any remaining medical bills to minimize their impact on your life.
For instance, the attorney can help funnel any medical bills to your health insurance. In turn, you health insurance likely pays a reduced contractual rate. Alternatively, an attorney can negotiate with the medical providers to lower their outstanding bills/medical liens. Finally, a Georgia attorney can refuse to pay certain subrogation claims under the "made whole" doctrine.
Regardless, there are practical ways that an attorney can help reduce the impact of large medical bills.
2) Why can’t my attorneys talk about insurance at trial?
The rules of evidence prevent attorneys from mentioning or suggesting certain topics at trial, such as insurance. This includes health insurance as well as car insurance.
Known as the collateral source rule, this rule of evidence has several purposes. It is designed to simplify issues at trial as well as prevent the jury from over-, or under-, valuing a case because of the insurance available.