Georgia saw a startling increase in traffic fatalities in 2015. For the first time in a decade, the number of people who died on Georgia's roadways went up instead of down. This has prompted state officials to launch the Drive Alert, Arrive Alive campaign to get drivers to buckle up and avoid distractions like texting. Read on to find out what kind of car insurance you need to protect yourself in the Peach State.
Georgia Vehicle Insurance Requirements
Every time you insure or cancel insurance on a vehicle, your insurance company is required to report it to the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System within 30 days. This electronic monitoring system lets the state DMV know as soon as your car insurance has lapsed.
Even with strict electronic surveillance of insurance policies, about 11.7 percent of Georgia's drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council. Compared with other states, Georgia sits right in the middle.
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Georgia?
If you own a car, you have to have liability insurance for it to drive on public roads and highways or register a vehicle in Georgia.
Proof of Insurance
By law, your insurance company has to issue you an insurance card for each vehicle it insures. You must carry this card in your vehicle at all times, but it no longer suffices to prove that you have insurance. For that, your insurance policy will have to show up as active in the Department of Revenue's database. Law enforcement and vehicle registration officials have access to the database and can check your insurance status on the spot. You can also check your own insurance status here.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
Georgia's minimum limits of liability insurance are:
- Injury Liability of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence
- Property Damage Liability of $25,000 per occurrence
Note that these are the state's legal minimums. Experts strongly recommend you consider higher limits and additional coverage. For other common types of protection, see the MoneyGeek guide to Car Insurance.
What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Georgia?
If the Department of Revenue discovers a gap in your insurance coverage, you will be fined $25. If you do not pay the fine and insure your vehicle within 30 days, your registration will be suspended.
If you are pulled over or have an accident and don't have insurance, your vehicle may be impounded and you will be subject to fines.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
Georgia law only requires that you carry liability insurance, but that just covers the other party's expenses if you cause an accident. It won't cover your medical costs or damage to your vehicle.
Georgia Lack Vehicle Insurance? 11.7% National Average: 12.6 %
If you have a new vehicle with a loan, your lender will probably require that you carry collision and comprehensive insurance to cover damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident, theft or natural disaster. If, on the other hand, your car is old and you don't owe money on it, you may choose to forgo this insurance.
You may want to consider uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself from other drivers who skirt the law. "About twenty states require drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage," says Michael Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute. "And it's is a good idea to do so even in states where it is not mandatory to do so. About one in seven U.S. drivers are uninsured, so your uninsured motorist coverage gives you financial protection if you're involved in an accident with someone who meets that criterion."
Teen Drivers in Georgia
Georgia has a a graduated driver's license program for drivers who are 18 and younger called the Teenage and Adult Driving Responsibility Act (TADRA). It was passed in response to the high number of fatal vehicle crashes involving young drivers in Georgia. The program provides a way for teens to gain experience driving under the safest conditions, avoiding high-risk situations.
To graduate from a learner's permit to an intermediate license in Georgia, you must complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including at least six hours at night. If you want to get your intermediate license at age 16, you also have to complete a driver education course approved by the Department of Driver Services. Anyone under age 18 who wants a driver's license must also be enrolled in school (or in a home schooling program).
To keep insurance rates as low as possible, AAA advises Georgia parents to ask their insurance agent about raising their deductible, seeing if your teen qualifies for a good student discount, and signing a parent-teen driving agreement, which might help keep rates down (and your child safe) by preventing collisions and DUIs.
Georgia Car Insurance: Does a Teen Drives Up Your Policy?
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$2,207 increase This is a difference of 121%.
Average annual premium increase if your teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
Discounts for Teens in Georgia
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$361 saved
Compare Premiums from Georgia Insurance Providers
Annual average premiums for a married couple and a 16-year-old teen driver in Georgia differ from one provider to another. Do some comparison shopping.
|Georgia Farm Bureau||$2,355||$4,663||$10,573|
Mustang vs. Minivan: How Car Choice Affects Your Policy
Sturdy sedans and minivans are a better choice for teens than sports cars — not only for safety reasons, but for ensuring your annual premium doesn't skyrocket.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Drivers in Georgia
Even though your child is going off to college, don't expect your insurance premiums to decline quite yet. Unfortunately, statistics show that drivers under age 25 - especially males - are more likely to get in accidents, so you can expect their insurance rates to remain high for quite a while.
But your kids can help you offset those costs by getting good grades. In Georgia, insurance companies must offer discounts on liability, first-party medical and collision coverage to "good students."
This can apply to your college or high school students. To qualify, they must be ranked in the upper 20 percent of their class, have a "B" or 3.0 average or better or make the Dean's list or honor roll. If your child meets the criteria, ask your insurer about the discount.
Savings When Your Georgia Teen Enters College
Median premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$1,120 decrease This lowers your premium by 25%.
Compare Quotes from Georgia Providers
Read your policy carefully each year before it renews to see whether you could find a better rate somewhere else. Here are some average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Georgia.
|Georgia Farm Bureau||$2,265||$4,349||$9,101|
College Drivers: A Discount for Living Far from Home?
You may get a small break in your family premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $4,285 at home
- $3,625 at school
- $660 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $3,579 at home
- $3,142 at school
- $437 in savings
College Students, Cars and Peach State Policies
Driving a minivan will result in much lower premiums than driving a sports car, which insurers consider risky.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$4,822
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,967
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Georgia
Georgia has more than 72,000 active duty military personnel and 752, 882 veterans. If you are in the Armed Forces, it's a good idea to ask your insurance agent how the company handles military deployments and insurance. Make sure you are able to stay on top of premiums and renewals, and ask if you will be penalized for allowing your policy to lapse while you are on deployment.
In Georgia, you may cancel your registration while you are on deployment as long as the vehicle will not be driven on public roads during your absence. You will have to submit a form to the Tax Commissioner's office in your home county and have your commanding officer certify that you were deployed on military duty.
Georgia Service Members and Insurance Savings:
Mustangs vs SUVs
SUVs and pickups are more likely to be in rollover crashes than other types of vehicles, according to insurance experts, but an older model SUV still has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.
Comparing Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle for a Military Driver
Age Savings for Georgia
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to Georgia Military Personnel
Whether you're on active duty or a veteran, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Georgia.
Seniors in Georgia
Once you turn 60, you will need to renew your license every five years (younger drivers have a 10-year renewal option). And starting at age 64, you will need to do a vision test each time you renew.
Many insurers offer a discount to people aged 55 and older who take a defensive driving class. You can't take a certified class online, but the Department of Driver Services has a list of certified schools on its website.
Undocumented Workers in Georgia
Non-citizens who want a Georgia driver's license must provide proof that they are in the United States legally. Immigrants who are authorized to be in the country under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are able to get a license. In 2015 the state Senate voted on a bill to deny them access to driver's licenses, but the measure was defeated.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
If you're one of the thousands of Georgia residents who drive for a transportation network company (TNC) like Uber or Lyft, you will want to be sure your insurance company knows about it, and that you are adequately insured. Most private insurance policies won't cover you when you use your vehicle for commercial purposes.
In 2015, the Georgia legislature passed a law regulating the sector. It includes the following minimum insurance requirements, which can be met by either the TNC or the driver:
- During periods when you are available, but don't have any passengers lined up, you must be covered by at least $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person/$100,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage liability.
- Once you agree to provide a ride and until the passenger exits your vehicle, you must be covered by at least $1 million in liability.
In Georgia, GEICO recently announced that it is offering a hybrid insurance policy designed for people who drive for TNCs. The policy would replace your personal policy with one that covers you both when you are driving for personal reasons as well as when you are driving for the TNC. You can get more information about this new type of insurance here. But before buying any additional insurance, you should contact your insurance agent to see if your personal policy, combined with the TNC's liability policy, already has you fully covered.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim
If you are in an accident, call the police if there are injuries or any significant property damage. Be sure to collect the other driver's name, address, insurance company and policy number.
If you have to file a claim, call your insurance agent as soon as possible; there may be a time limit for filing claims. Keep notes on all of your conversations with the insurance company - just in case there is an issue later on. If your claim is denied, be sure to get a copy of the reasons why in writing. If you have a complaint or feel you were treated unfairly, contact the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner.
Best and Worst States for Driver Safety: How Does Georgia Rank?
Georgia is one of the 20 safest states to drive in, according to a MoneyGeek analysis of federal road safety data. Although it ranks 29th in its rate of fatal crashes, its rates of drunk driving and speeding are well below the national average. In addition, it has one of the lowest rates of death involving motorcycle riders who crash without a helmet - perhaps because it has had a universal helmet law since 1969.
Georgia Driver Safety Ranking
The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.
How did we create the safety rankings?
We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).
|Driver Safety Profile||Number of Fatalities||Fatality Rate
The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.
Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.
|Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities||295||2.70||13th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||376||3.44||26th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||5||0.05||5th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||481||4.40||24th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||1,179||10.78||29th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Georgia: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
With its ubiquitous highways in Greater Atlanta and elsewhere, Georgia seems obsessed with cars. But in its "Travel Smart" program, the state's transportation department coordinates safety not just for drivers, but for cyclists, pedestrians and public transit. The state laws on traffic safety continue to progress, but Georgia has a few gaps in its coverage, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The alliance of consumer, health and insurance groups would like to see Georgia require seat belt use for adults in the back seat, tighten teen safety laws, and require ignition interlocks for all DUI convictions.
|Mandatory seatbelts||For all passengers in the front seat; only for passengers under age 18 in the back seat.|
|Child passenger safety||Child/booster seat required for all children under age 8 and under 57″|
|Driving under the influence (DUI))||For a first conviction, 1-year suspension (with limited driving privileges), up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Penalties increase for subsequent convictions.|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Mandatory for repeat convictions|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||(texting and teens)||No texting. Under age 18, no cell phone use at all|
|Protections for young drivers||During first six months of intermediate stage, no passengers (except family). During the second six months, no more than one passenger under 21, and after that, no more than three passengers. No driving from midnight to 6 a.m.|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Universal law enacted in 1969|
|Bicycle helmet law||Partial||Required for kids under age 16|
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, 2016
Car Insurance Resources for Georgia Residents
Handy information on licensing, registration and insurance requirements.
Information on insurance claims and rates.
If you want to file a complaint about your insurance company, you can do it here online.
Whether you've been ordered to take a driving class by the courts, or you just want to get a discount on your insurance, you can find a list of schools certified by the Department of Driver Services here.
Learn more about highway safety in Georgia and the state's campaigns to save lives.