Uninsured Motorist Coverage: What is it and why do you need it?

If you have been in a car wreck, you are required by Georgia Law to put your insurance company on notice of the wreck. You are required by your insurance policy to do it promptly after the wreck. Some policies have time limits, and if you go beyond a time limit, you may not be allowed to use your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage on your policy. Why is this important? It is important because if you are injured, and hit by a driver who does not have any insurance coverage, or doesn’t have enough, then you can use your uninsured motorist coverage if you purchased it. But, if you did not timely put your company on notice, your company will try to get out of providing the coverage for you on your policy.

Many people are concerned that using their uninsured motorist coverage will make their premiums go up , but if the wreck was not your fault, and you have not had repeated claims on your policy, then your premiums should not go up. After all, you have paid for this coverage over the years, and you should use it when the time comes that you need it.

What exactly is uninsured motorist coverage? Let’s look at an example: if you are hit by a driver who has only $25,000 in liability coverage on their policy, and your damages from the case including lost wages and medical bills total $50,000, then you should use your uninsured motorist coverage to help pay the claim. If you have $25,000 in UM coverage on your policy, then you would be entitled to add that on top of the at fault person’s coverage to help pay for your damages. It is called “stacking” and you are entitled to stack your UM coverage on top of the at fault insurance driver’s coverage if your damages warrant stacking. You should check your policy to see if you have “added on” or “excess” UM coverage. If you do, you can stack it. If you bought “reduced by” then you won’t get to add your UM to the at fault insurance company’s coverage. The take home point here is to check your policy to make sure you don’t have “reduced by” UM coverage, and if you do, change it by calling your agent to “added on” UM coverage. Also, you should buy the highest amount of UM coverage you can afford, as this may someday be needed if you are hurt badly in a wreck.