Under Georgia state law, all insurance companies must offer uninsured motorist (UIM) protection when they issue a policy. However, the law also allows for the insured to opt-out of UIM coverage if they sign a waiver of coverage form. In a recent Georgia car accident decision, the court discussed this requirement as well as the ability of parties to waive that coverage as it pertains to certain drivers.
The plaintiffs were test driving a car when they were rear-ended by another motorist. The accident was the fault of the other driver, and the plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against that driver, seeking compensation for their injuries. The at-fault driver only had the minimum of $25,000 in insurance coverage and the medical bills exceeded that amount. After finding this out, the plaintiffs then filed a claim with the car dealership’s insurance company, under that policy’s Underinsured Motorist insurance.
The insurance company denied the plaintiffs’ claim, citing the policy language that only granted UIM coverage to “directors, officers, partners or owners of the named insured and family members who qualify as an insured.” The insurance company also pointed to language in the policy specifically waiving UIM coverage for “any other person who qualifies as an insured.”They basically said, well you are only an insured under the liability because we, the dealership, excluded everyone else from accessing the UM coverage.
The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company, seeking to compel the company to approve their claim. The plaintiffs argued that the policy as written was not enforceable because it violated Georgia’s law governing UIM coverage. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the insurance company was not permitted to allow an insured to pick and choose which motorists are covered under the UIM protection.
Essentially, the plaintiffs were claiming that UIM coverage was an “all-or-nothing” decision the insured had to make. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument, explaining that nothing in the text of the law requires an insured to make an all-or-nothing decision regarding UIM coverage. Thus, the court determined that the policy was valid as written and enforceable. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the policy should be found to be void because it violated good public policy. The court explained that, unless a contract runs afoul of the law, contracting parties are free to write the contract in any way they see fit.
If you have recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, and you have been getting the runaround when trying to obtain the compensation you deserve, contact Christopher M. Simon, Attorney at Law. We will give you a no-bullshit assessment of where things stand and what your options are.