Last updated on April 26th, 2018
In order to drive legally residents of the state of Georgia must meet a host of state requirements concerning car insurance. Every vehicle registered in the state of Georgia is required by state law to maintain $25,000 in individual bodily injury coverage, $50,000 in per accident bodily injury coverage and $25,000 in property damage coverage. The state also requires vehicles with an active loan to carry more than the state minimum though the exact levels can be set by the lender. These types of insurance, known as liability insurance, will help pay for any damage or injuries sustained by other drivers in an accident that is cause by the policy holder. Liability coverage does not cover the policy holder or the vehicle in an at-fault accident and as such if a driver chooses to carry only the state required amount of insurance coverage they will be responsible for their own injuries and for the damage to their vehicle should they cause an accident. Before an automobile can be registered, or the registration of a vehicle renewed, with the Georgia DMV it must first meet state minimum insurance requirements. As a tort state Georgia does not require its residents to purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance nor does it require them to purchase personal injury protection though many residents choose to add these types of coverage to their policy anyway so that the financial burden of an accident will be minimal.
Although these requirements generally apply to all vehicle owners in Georgia there are a few exceptions where the owner of a vehicle may be exempt from adhering to state insurance laws. A vehicle registered in Georgia will be exempt for example
-if the owner has moved out of state
-if the vehicle was repossessed or stolen
-if the vehicle is inoperable
-if the vehicle was wrecked or junked
-if the vehicle was sold
-if the owner has been deployed over seas
In most cases the Georgia DMV will not be aware of a vehicle’s change in status so if a vehicle owner wants to avoid the state’s mandatory insurance requirement they will have to notify the DMV of the new status on their own.
Georgia, like most other states, has a few different penalties in place to dissuade residents from attempting to drive without car insurance. The maximum penalty a resident can receive for failing to maintain required levels of minimum coverage is a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail though this point is reached in only a small minority of cases. Since driving without insurance in Georgia is a misdemeanor the driver could even have their car impounded if they are pulled over and found to be driving without insurance. Most Georgia residents that are penalized because of the car insurance are done so because they have allowed their insurance to lapse. The state of Georgia strictly defines a lapse as a period of 10 or more days without continuous coverage on a vehicle. This means that if a driver cancels a policy or fails to make a payment they typically have up to 10 days to bring their coverage back into good standing with state law. If a driver allows their insurance to lapse they will be fined a lapse fee of $25 and will be required to pay a reinstatement fee in order to have the registration unsuspended. These fees will continue to increase with each subsequent offense and can ultimately result in a 6 month suspension of the vehicles registration. In most states a driver can also be penalized for failing to carry proof of insurance with them while driving but in Georgia carrying proof of insurance is not a legal requirement though it is still recommended. When a Georgia resident is pulled over by a law enforcement officer the officer can immediately access the driver’s insurance information through the DMV database and will immediately know if they have active insurance on the vehicle that they are driving.
In many ways Georgia is one of the most progressive states when it comes to sharing information between the DMV, the insurance companies and the millions of Georgia residents that drive a vehicle. In some states it can be hard for a driver to be proactive about updating their insurance information but in Georgia residents can access the state insurance database and make sure that all of their information on file is currently correct. The state uses this database to monitor insurance coverage and since it requires auto insurance companies to provide the policy information of Georgia drivers the database is always up to date. When a vehicle owner allows the insurance on their vehicle to lapse the insurance company will report the change in situation to the state and unless the driver provides new proof of insurance within the required ten days they run the risk of being penalized for having a lapse in insurance coverage.