This is a very common question posed to insurance agents and the answer from a good agent that wants to make sure you are properly covered is definitely “no, state minimum coverage is not enough coverage!” Most people do not understand what all the coverages on their policy means and they rely on their agent to make sure they are properly covered. Here is a quick breakdown of basic coverages on a standard policy:
Bodily Injury/Liability Coverage: State minimum for Georgia is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This means if you hit someone and they have to go to the hospital in an ambulance to the emergency room and stay for a few days, your insurance will only pay up to $25,000 per person. If there are four people in the car you hit, your insurance will max out at $50,000 total for all of their medical bills. According to the AJC, basic ambulance transport fees in Georgia range from a low of $343 in Douglas County to $1,628 at Grady in Fulton in County. That’s just for the bare minimum ride and does not include additional services they may need while in the ambulance. A visit to the emergency room is another expensive cost which can easily go over $20,000 depending on the severity of their injuries. As an insurance agent I see auto claims all the time that far exceed $25,000. If you do not have enough insurance coverage to cover your liability, you are responsible for the expenses out of pocket and your wages could even be garnished. The minimum recommended liability coverage is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Statistically, drivers with higher liability limits have fewer accidents so a lot of carriers give discounts to clients for having at least $100,000/$300,000. In many cases the difference is as low as $10 a month to raise your coverage from state minimum to the recommended coverage.
Property Damage Coverage: This covers your liability for another person’s property. For example, if you hit and total someone’s $55,000 Corvette or run into someone’s house the damage would be covered up to your property damage limit and you are responsible for the rest out of pocket. The state minimum for property damage coverage in Georgia is $25,000, but the recommended minimum by a good agent is $100,000.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This is an optional coverage, but it is so important! Despite there being state minimum requirements for auto insurance people drive without auto insurance all the time. Those people are also statistically more likely to have an accident. So for example, let’s say someone hits you and you spend several days in the hospital. Your hospital bill is $40,000, but the driver at fault that hit you didn’t have insurance, your UM coverage would kick in to cover your bills up to your UM limit. The recommended minimum UM coverage is $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 for property damage added-on (UM property damage limit should be at least the value of your car). There are two types of UM coverage, click on the link below for a comparison:
Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay): Generally MedPay pays for medical costs after you are hurt in a car accident, regardless of who is found at fault for the accident. Depending on your carrier, it may also pay for funeral expenses, injuries to your passengers, injuries you sustain as a pedestrian or bicyclist after a car hits you, and necessary dental care as a result of a car accident. This coverage is typically inexpensive and at the bare minimum you should have $1,000 for MedPay. If you do not have good health insurance benefits, you will want much higher MedPay limits.
Collision Coverage: This coverage covers physical damages to your car caused by rolling over or a collision with another vehicle or object (like a building, pole, or guard rail). Most people have a $500 deductible for collision coverage, but you can pick the deductible that best fits your needs. The deductible is what you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance will kick in.
Comprehensive Coverage: This coverage covers physical damages to your car caused by a covered peril other than collision, for example, hitting a deer, a tree falling on your car, someone keying your car, or your car being stolen. Most people have a comprehensive deductible of $250-500 depending on your needs.
Towing and Labor/Roadside Assistance: Unless you have a service like AAA, you need this inexpensive coverage to help you out if you need your car towed. Most carriers also now include roadside assistance with this coverage as well. For most carriers, this coverage is only $2-4 a month.
Rental Reimbursement: This coverage covers the cost of renting a car if your car is in the shop due to a covered peril up to your limits. Most people have $30 per day with a $900 maximum, but if you need an SUV or minivan, you will want higher limits for this inexpensive coverage.
Umbrella Insurance: This is a separate policy that adds at least $1 million of liability coverage to all of your personal insurance policies. The cost is minimal, generally around $200 if you have one home and two autos, plus you get discounts on all of your policies for having an umbrella policy so it’s really costing you a lot less. You can also add an endorsement to add it to your uninsured/underinsured coverage (this endorsement is generally around $200).
If you are in Georgia and want a free audit of your current coverages or have any questions regarding your coverages, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 770-833-2898.