If you’ve been in a car accident recently, you know that it’s stressful. It’s scary to think about what will happen if the other driver isn’t insured or has too little insurance to cover your damages. UM/UIM insurance coverage exists precisely to address this situation. Clients have been asking me about this for a long time now: does using your own insurance for someone else’s negligence affect your insurance rates? It’s an interesting question and one I would like to address. To understand how this works lets first talk about why you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
You may think that the only time you need to use your insurance is if you cause an accident. But what if you’re driving home from work one day, minding your own business, and someone else runs into you? Now’s a good time to remember why you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
If the driver who hits you doesn’t have insurance or not enough insurance, your liability insurance won’t pay for your car repairs or medical care. But your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can fill in the gaps.
Medical bills and lost wages can add up quickly after an accident. If the driver who hits you is uninsured or underinsured, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) help to pay for your medical bills and other damages if you are injured by another driver who does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills and property damage.
Georgia law states that insurance companies cannot increase your rates simply because you were in a car accident which was not your fault. Insurance companies are also prohibited from cancelling your policy for filing a claim if you were not the cause of the accident.
OCGA 33-9-40 “No insurer shall surcharge the premium or rate charged on a policy of motor vehicle insurance or cancel such policy as a result of the insured person’s involvement in a multivehicle accident when such person was not at fault in such accident.”
Simply put, your insurance company cannot raise your rates or cancel your coverage for making a claim if you were not at fault.
Georgia law requires insurance companies to make UM/UIM available when you purchase your insurance. However, Georgia law also allows people to decline UM/UIM coverage, or opt for low limits (the minimum allowed by law) when they purchase their policies. Unfortunately, many people ignore this important coverage because their agents tell them it’s not necessary. That means you have to sign a form declining it in order for it to be excluded from your policy. We call this the section/rejection form.
You pay an additional fee for this coverage, but the cost to value ratio makes it worth every penny. If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident, you know it’s a stressful event. If the accident was your fault, the stress is compounded. And if the other driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance, then you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
If you have the coverage, and you are paying the additional fee for the safety net, why wouldn’t you use it to cover your losses? You need UM or UIM coverage to protect yourself from others who do not carry insurance.
OCGA 33-24-45 states that insurance companies cannot issue notice of non-renewal with respect to any driver for two or fewer of the following within the preceding 36 month period:
(i) Accidents involving two or more motor vehicles in which the driver of the insured automobile under this subparagraph was not at fault;
(ii) Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claims;
(iii) Comprehensive coverage claims; and
(iv) Towing or road service coverage claims;
If you have an accident that is not your fault and then make a UM claim, your insurance company cannot raise your premiums, cancel coverage, or refuse to renew your policy, as long as you are within the two events allowed under Georgia law within the past 36 months.
To Summarize, if you’ve been injured in a wreck, you should not wait to seek legal help. There are lots of nuisances in the law that can help or hurt your case if you don’t have an expert on your side. At Cohen & Sinowski, we are dedicated to guiding our clients though the personal injury process while protecting their legal rights along the way.