We help young professionals in Georgia file insurance claims after a car accident or other serious injury. If the insurance company refuses to pay, we file a lawsuit and take the insurance company to trial. This guide will explain the basics of car insurance in Georgia. It is divided into nine articles, and the full table of contents is at the bottom of this page.
When Can I Recover Insurance After an Injury?
In simplest terms, for someone to recover money after a car accident, at least one of the following must be true:
- The person or entity responsible has enough assets or cash to pay the damages;
- The person responsible has an active insurance policy to cover the damages; or
- The injured person has an insurance policy that will cover the damages.
An Overview of Insurance Policies
You can purchase insurance for a vehicle, home, business, possession, health, or even a life. At the most basic level, an insurance policy is a contract. In an insurance policy contract, the insured person pays policy premiums to be protected from events or losses related to specific circumstances. The insurance company is required to pay out money to the insured person upon the occurrence of a specified event resulting in financial loss or damage to the insured person. The rights and responsibilities of both the insurance company and the insured person are written out in detail in the insurance policy contract.
State insurance laws control all insurance policies. Each state has minimum requirements for insurance policies. If the policy does not meet these minimums, a court will automatically adjust the policy minimums to meet the state requirements.
First Party Insurance
Insurance contracts can be written as first or third-party policies. In first-party contracts, the insurance company provides monetary coverage if their insured customer suffers a covered loss. For example, Joe has a health insurance policy with Best Insurance. Joe trips and falls in his own home. As a result of his injury, he incurs doctor and hospital bills, and is off work for one year. Best Insurance will pay Joe’s doctor and hospital bills. Joe also has a disability insurance policy through his job with Jupiter Insurance company. Jupiter will pay a portion of Joe’s lost wages while he is on disability leave. Both policies are for first-party coverage because Joe is the insured party who has the insurance contract with each company.
Third Party Insurance
In a third-party insurance contract, the policy provides compensation for other people who are injured as a result of the actions of the person who purchased the insurance policy. This is called a liability policy. An automobile insurance policy is the best example of this type of coverage. An automobile insurance policy requires the insurance company to pay any damages relating to the policy holder’s ownership, maintenance and use of the automobile covered by the policy.
As an example, let’s say Neal and Cathy are traveling in Neal’s car. Cathy is napping in the passenger seat. Neal falls asleep while driving. The vehicle swerves off the road, through the ditch and hits a tree. Cathy is injured due to the accident. Neal’s policy is a standard automobile insurance policy with a clause protecting himself from personally paying for any damage claims made by third parties that arise due to an automobile accident. In this example, Cathy is a third-party who is injured due to Neal’s negligent operation of the insured vehicle. Cathy files a bodily injury claim as a third party against Neal. His insurance company, Best Insurance, is required to protect Neal from Cathy’s claim for monetary damages. The insurance company will investigate the claim to see if it has merit and make an offer of settlement once they are sure Neal is at fault due to the evidence gathered from the accident, both at the scene and the resulting medical expenses (current and future.)
To determine whether a person is covered under a first or third party insurance policy, we have to review a document called the declarations page. Our next article covers how to read a declarations page. To jump to a different article, here is the full table of contents:
- When Can I Recover from Someone’s Else’s Insurance? (this article)
- The Declarations Page
- Duty to Defend
- Reservation of Rights
- Bad Faith
- Commercial General Liability
- Direct Actions Against Insurance Companies
- Uninsured Motorists
- Underinsured Motorists