When driving a State of Georgia registered vehicle, insurance is required.
- Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least 25/50/25 – meaning:
- Liability coverage
- $25,000 of bodily injury or death to another person
- $50,000 of bodily injuries or deaths to all other persons
- $25,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
Although uninsured motorist insurance (UMI) is not required by the state of Georgia, many drivers choose to add it to their policy in order to protect themselves in the event that an uninsured driver causes an accident that damages their car or injures the driver and/or his/her passengers.
Alternative Options to Insurance:
Self-insurance certificates are available in Georgia under Georgia Code 33.34.5 to the following candidates:
- Anyone with one or more vehicles who qualifies by application through Georgia’s insurance commissioner, who may at his or her own discretion issue you a self-insurance certificate if he/she is satisfied that you have the financial capacity to cover any claims to the same extent an insurance policy would.
Ralph T. Hudgens
Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
Two Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
West Tower, Suite 704
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
- Anyone who has one or more vehicles for hire, except for taxicabs, and who owns the title to such vehicle(s) can also apply for a self-insurance certificate through the commissioner.
- Anyone who operates 25 or more taxicabs registered in his/her name can apply for a self-insurance certificate through the commissioner; however, those with fewer than 25 taxicabs do not qualify for self-insurance. To qualify for self-insurance as an operator of 25 or more taxicabs, the self-insurer must maintain a cash deposit of at least $100,000 with the commissioner, as well as maintain $300,000 in authorized assets.
Required Proof of Insurance in Georgia
In Georgia, an insurance card is not acceptable proof of insurance, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue. Georgia requires that the insured’s vehicle be listed on a state-maintained insurance database. When you are pulled over, a peace officer can quickly search this database to see if your vehicle is insured. The insurer is responsible for electronically transmitting the insured’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and policy effective date to this insurance database, the department notes.
To check the insurance status of your vehicle online, the vehicle owner must have the VIN and title/control number when searching the Department of Revenue’s online system.
Drivers must keep their insurance card in their vehicle, however, for times they are driving out of state and may need to present a card according to that state’s law.
Self-insured drivers are not included in the insurance database, and therefore must carry proof of insurance, according to the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division. Self-insured drivers must possess both a self-insured insurance information card and a certificate of self-insurance issued by the insurance commissioner that must include the following:
- Certificate Number issued by Department
- Effective Date of Certificate
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by certificate
Acceptable proof of insurance also includes:
- A valid fleet insurance policy information card that includes the name of the insurance company, policy number, the date when the policy was first issued, the policy expiration date, the insured’s name, and the words “fleet” and “Georgia.”
- A valid commercial insurance policy information card
- A valid binder showing the vehicle’s VIN (this will be accepted for up to 30 days after it is issued for when someone purchases new insurance).
- A bill of sale for up to 30 days after you purchased a vehicle, plus a valid insurance declaration page.
Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
Ralph T. Hudgens – Commissioner
Two Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
West Tower, Suite 704
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Main Telephone: 404-656-2070
Toll Free: 800-656-2298
Obtaining a Driver’s License
Here are the requirements to obtain your learner’s permit for residents under the age of 18:
- Be at least 15 years old
- Parent or legal guardian must sign learner’s permit application. The parent/guardian must also present Georgia driver’s license or ID or the teen must show proof of residency.
- Teen must surrender all permits, licenses, and ID cards from out of state, if they had any. If a student did have an out-of-state license or permit, the teen must show their certified driving history dated within the last 30 days.
- Show required documents, including: proof of identification (e.g., U.S. birth certificate), Social Security number, and a Georgia DDS Certificate of Attendance signed and notarized by the teen’s school.
- Pass a vision exam
- Pass a two-part written knowledge exam on road rules and road signs
- Pay $10 permit fee
You cannot withdraw from school, miss more than 10 days of school, or have any reports of bad conduct if you want to keep your permit or license when under the age of 18.
Here are the requirements to obtain your first driver’s license if you are under 18:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Hold a learner’s permit for a year and a day
- Sixteen-year-olds must comply with Joshua’s Law, which requires them to take driver’s education before they are issued their first license. Those 17 and older are not required to take driver’s ed.
- Parent or guardian must sign an affidavit verifying the teen has logged 40 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience, including 6 hours of night driving, not counting driving with an instructor in a driver’s ed class.
- Parent or guardian must sign driver’s license application
- Present a Georgia DDS Certificate of Attendance form signed and notarized by your school
- Have an alcohol and drug awareness (ADAP) card
- Take road test/vision test
- Know Social Security number
- Pay $10 license fee
Here are the requirements to obtain your first driver’s license if you are 18 or older:
- Pass vision exam
- Pass two-part knowledge exam on road rules and road signs, which will qualify them for a learner’s permit, and therefore, a road test
- Pass road test
- Show proof of citizenship, identity, and residency; know Social Security number
- Pay $20 license fee.
Completing Driver Education
If a teen is seeking a driver’s license at the age of 16, they must enroll in an approved driver’s education program under Joshua’s Law, as well as complete 40 hours of supervised driving. Those 17 and older are not required to complete formal driver’s education, although some choose to do so anyway to get additional on-the-road experience.
All driver’s education programs must be approved by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. You can access the DDS list of licensed driver training schools here, and choose one offered by a private company, high school, or via virtual courses. The department also provides a link to colleges that offer driver education programs.
Driver’s education courses vary from program to program, but often they are “30 and 6″ programs, which consist of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training. These types of classes are beneficial because they are accepted by insurance companies to give teen drivers premium discounts, according to the DDS. During formal driver’s education, students practice driving with an approved instructor who watches from the passenger side and coaches the student on driving techniques. In Georgia, parents and guardians can even get up to a $150 tax credit if their minor child completes driver’s education through a licensed, private driver’s education school, the DDS explains.
It is recommended that you research any driver’s education program that you enroll in to make sure they meet the following standards:
- Instructors are licensed to teach driver’s education in Georgia
- The program meets state curriculum requirements
- Check if they have received any disciplinary action for violations
- Make sure there are enough instructors to meet student needs
Knowing the Rules of the Road
Georgia provides their rules of the road online in Title 40, Chapter 6 of the official code of Georgia titled “Uniform Rules of the Road.” Carefully obey these rules to qualify for the lowest possible car insurance rates.
- Aggressive driving: OCGA 40-6-397
- Consumption of alcoholic beverage or possession of open container of alcohol in passenger area: OCGA 40-6-253
- Driving through canyon or on mountain highway: OCGA 40-6-245
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances: OCGA 40-6-391
- Duty of driver of vehicle meeting or passing school bus: OCGA 40-6-163
- Duty to report accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage: OCGA 40-6-273
- Duty upon striking unattended vehicle: OCGA 40-6-271
- Fleeing or trying to elude police officer: OCGA 40-6-395
- Following too closely: OCGA 40-6-49
- Highway work zones; reduction in speed; signage: OCGA 40-6-188
- Hit-and-run; duty of driver to stop at or return to scene of accident: OCGA 40-6-270
- Impeding traffic flow; minimum speed in left-hand lanes: OCGA 40-6-184
- Littering highway: OCGA 40-6-249
- Maximum speed limits: OCGA 40-6-181
- No-passing zones: OCGA 40-6-46
- Obedience to traffic control devices required: OCGA 40-6-20
- Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency vehicles: OCGA 40-6-74
- Racing on highways or streets: OCGA 40-6-186
- Reckless driving: OCGA 40-6-390
- Writing, sending, or reading text messages while operating motor vehicle prohibited: OCGA 40-6-241.2
Residents of Georgia are encouraged to think carefully about how much auto insurance they need and how much they can afford to pay, as an auto insurance policy is a legal contract. If you let the contract lapse, it could cause your future insurance rates to go up, which will prevent you from receiving the lowest auto insurance rates in Georgia. While Georgia only requires drivers to purchase minimum liability coverage, many drivers feel it is in their best interest to purchase additional coverage beyond the state requirements. Additional coverage in an auto policy could include: uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, medical payments, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, rental reimbursement coverage, towing and labor coverage, etc. It helps to familiarize oneself with insurance terminology as you examine your options (Georgia provides an alphabetized glossary here). Be sure to research auto insurance companies to make sure they are reputable. Here we’ll explore some things consumers should think about when it comes to auto insurance.
Know Your Rates
How much you pay for auto insurance is determined in part by how much coverage you want (the more coverage you purchase, the higher your premium) and the deductible you select (the higher your deductible, the lower your premium). Also, the insurance company must consider all of the risk factors associated with covering you and the other licensed drivers in your household. Understand the average cost of car insurance in Georgia to know where you stand. The base rate that is used to evaluate all drivers is then adjusted to take into account the following factors:
- Age. Statistics indicate that drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to be involved in accidents than those aged between 25 and 65. In fact, although 15% of all licensed drivers are under age 25, this age group accounts for 29% of all accidents, and about 26% of all fatal accidents, according to Georgia’s Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance. For this reason, drivers under 25 years old are considered a higher risk, so insurance companies will charge households with younger drivers more for insurance. Also, those 65 and older are considered greater risks as well because their reaction time and overall physical ability tends to slow down.
- Sex. Statistical evidence suggests that men under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than women in the same age group, according to the Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance. Therefore, male drivers typically must pay higher insurance rates than female drivers, while women tend to enjoy more affordable auto insurance in Georgia.
- Driving record and claims history. If you have had multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, you are automatically considered a riskier driver to insure. For this reason, those who do not have clean driving records will see higher insurance rates. Accidents remain on your driving record for a period of years before your driving history is wiped clean again.
- Marital status. Statistics prove that married couples tend to have far fewer accidents than those who are unmarried, so married couples may be offered a lower insurance rate when shopping around.
- Location. As a general rule, urban drivers pay more for auto insurance than those in small towns or rural areas because the greater concentration of vehicles makes them more likely to get into an accident. Those in high-crime areas will likely see higher auto insurance rates as well, as their car is more likely to be stolen or vandalized.
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle. The general rule of thumb is that the more expensive and high-performance the vehicle, the more drivers will have to pay to insure them because they are more expensive to repair after accidents, not to mention more likely to be stolen. Insurance companies also point out that red, flashy sports cars are more likely to be pulled over for speeding and other violations by police.
- Annual miles driven/use of vehicle. If you don’t put many miles on your car each year, you pose less of a risk and therefore pay a lower premium. Also, people who use their car for leisure will generally pay a lower premium than those who use their car for business and long-distance commuting to work day in and day out.
- Credit history. Your credit history may play a part in the rates you receive.
- Gaps or lapses in insurance coverage. If you let your insurance lapse, you could experience a rate increase.
Lower Your Rates
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recommends shopping around at a number of different insurance companies to compare auto insurance rates in Georgia before buying auto insurance. When shopping around, speak with an insurance agent and find out exactly what your insurance plan will cover for the price you are paying so that you receive the best price for the best coverage, as opposed to simply settling for a plan that is cheap, but doesn’t offer much. To give you an idea of the type of rate you might receive, you can use the Georgia Office of Insurance’s automobile insurance rate comparison tool.
Inquire about discounts that a company may offer but not advertise, such as drivers who have completed a driver’s education or defensive driving course. Another way to save is with good student discounts. Insurance companies in Georgia are required to offer a reduction in liability, first party medical, and collision rates for drivers who are deemed “good students” by meeting one of the following criteria: ranked in the upper 20% of their class, have a “B” average or higher, a 3.0 average or higher, or make the Dean’s List or Honor Roll, according to Georgia’s Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance. Other ways to get a lower auto insurance rate include: bundling your auto and home insurance under one provider, insuring multiple vehicles under one policy, and installing safety and anti-theft devices. All of these things can help you get the best auto insurance rates in Georgia.
Longtime customers of an insurance company may be able to call in and request a lower rate after many years of faithfully paying their premiums on time. Also, insurance companies often give you the option to pay your entire premium all at once or pay it in installments; those who pay all at once often pay less overall.
In addition, pay close attention to your other insurance plans. Some plans, such as medical insurance, can overlap in coverage areas with your auto insurance plans, so you can opt out of paying for coverage in areas where you are already insured. Finally, by upping your deductible, you can receive a lower rate.
Remember to make sure that the company is permitted to do business in Georgia. If you are suspicious about any insurance company, call the Georgia Department of Insurance, Consumer Services Division at 404-656-2070 or toll-free at 800-656-2298 to verify if any actions have been taken against that company.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Insurance agents with insurance companies aim to sell policies for commission. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, do not represent a company. Instead, they work with individual clients, assessing their clients’ needs and finding different insurance options to fit those needs. Like agents, however, they also receive a commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies.
Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. You can verify if an insurance agent is licensed by entering their name in the agent search feature on the insurance commissioner’s website. In addition, you can request information from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to see if any complaints have been filed against a particular agent or broker and if they have faced disciplinary actions.
If you have had issues with an insurance company or agent that you have not been able to handle through the insurance company itself, you can file a complaint by filling out a consumer complaint form and submitting the completed form by fax to (404) 657-8542 or by mail at:
Georgia Department of Insurance
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Suite 716 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Be sure to include copies of any documents that support your claim along with your complaint form. Complaints may involve coverage issues, claims disputes, problems involving insurance premiums, sales misrepresentations, cancellations of policies, refunds, or any number of other issues, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. You can also request information if you simply have a question about your policy.
When a complaint is filed, the Georgia Department of Insurance will send a copy of your complaint to your insurance company and request a detailed, written response, the Office notes. They will also investigate the matter, determine if your problem was handled appropriately, determine if state law was violated, and get back to you if any formal disciplinary actions will take place, according to the Office’s website.
After an Accident
Accidents happen, even to the most responsible drivers. If you have been involved in a collision involving injury or death to another person or property damage above $500, Georgia state law requires you to immediately notify local law enforcement. Having a police report taken is not only necessary by law, but is also integral to the insurance claims process. Georgia state law also requires that if you are involved in an accident that causes an injury or death, you must stop and render aid. In an injury accident, you must request emergency medical services if necessary and remain at the scene until released by a peace officer.
To expedite procedures, be prepared to give a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision to responding law enforcement members, and also take down information such as the names of the police officers and witnesses you spoke with for your own accident report. State law also says you must also be prepared to give out information, including name, address, and registration number of the vehicle you were driving, even if the other driver has no car insurance in Georgia. In addition, you must present your driver’s license to the other driver involved in the accident if they ask for it.
After the proper authorities have been notified, report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible, closely following your particular company’s procedures for filing a claim. If your collision involved another driver, obtain their name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and the make and model of the car they were driving during the collision. You should also be prepared to report the extent of the damage to both cars, how the accident happened, what occurred during the accident, and the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Any police report filed must also be copied and sent to your insurance company.
When all of your information has been received, your insurance company will investigate and pay your claim based on how much coverage you have purchased, as indicated in your policy. If your claim is delayed, the insurance company must notify you periodically until it is processed. In the event that your claim is denied, your insurance company will notify you in writing.
Your insurance company may also seek subrogation, which typically happens when someone else was at fault for an accident you were in. Your insurance will cover the costs of any medical or repair bills you had based on your policy, but your insurance will then reach out to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. During this process, you should cooperate fully with your insurance company to ensure that this process goes smoothly. If you intend to settle with the at-fault driver or their insurance company, be sure to notify your insurance company.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Your driving record may prevent you from receiving the insurance coverage, especially if you have a lengthy history of accidents, tickets, or drunk driving. However, the state of Georgia makes it possible for every driver to find auto insurance opportunities by offering the Georgia Automobile Insurance Plan. This plan specifically covers drivers in Georgia who cannot find coverage in the voluntary market due to their driving records. In order to be assigned through GAAIP, be sure that you meet the following criteria:
- Have a vehicle registered in Georgia.
- Possess a valid Georgia driver’s license.
- Contact agent or broker for other criteria
You may also be asked to provide a SR-22 form under Georgia Code 375-3-3-.02. An SR-22 is typically required of violators who were caught driving without insurance, caught driving under the influence, caused an accident without insurance, had too many traffic violations and tickets within a short time span, or had their license suspended or revoked. The driver’s insurance company must file an SR-22 form for you.
The Georgia Department of Insurance, Consumer Services Division offers assistance to anyone shopping for insurance. They will answer inquiries related to insurance, look into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed. You can contact them at 404-656-2070 or toll-free at 800-656-2298.