49 out of 50 states in the U.S. require drivers to purchase liability insurance before they can legally drive a vehicle. Georgia and Alabama are included.

Insurance is expensive, and many drivers may think they can get away without it, especially if they consider themselves a good driver. However, driving without insurance can cost you far more than you could ever hope to save.

The purpose of liability insurance is to make sure that if you injure somewhile while driving, money is available to pay for that person’s repair bills, medical expenses, lost earnings and related damages without it coming from your pocket or personal assets. Likewise, if YOU are injured by someone else, it ensures there is money available to cover YOUR injuries and vehicle repairs.

What Coverage is Required in Georgia and Alabama?

In both Georgia and Alabama, all drivers must have at least $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury per person and $50,000 per wreck, as well as $25,000 in coverage for property damage.

Additionally, all auto insurance companies operating in Georgia and Alabama must be able to provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) in the same amounts. Drivers are not required to actually purchase UM and UIM, but unless you specifically say you do not want to purchase this coverage, it is probably included in your policy.

Here’s why you want to keep UM and UIM coverage in your policy: according to the Insurance Information Institute, as of 2019, nearly 20% of drivers in Alabama and more than 12% of drivers in Georgia are driving uninsured.  My experience dealing with cases in Columbus and Phenix City would support these numbers. There are a LOT OF UNINSURED DRIVERS in our community. And who do you think runs without insurance? Usually the worst of our drivers.

People who drive uninsured usually do so for one of two reasons. Either they can’t get insurance coverage because they have gotten too many tickets or been in too many at-fault wrecks already, or they can’t afford insurance, which means they can’t afford to pay your bills out of pocket.

If you get into a crash with any one of these hundreds of thousands of uninsured drivers, you could be severely injured and have no means of getting compensation. Even if they are 100% at fault for the crash, they can’t pay you money they don’t have.

UM and UIM lets you get compensation from your own insurance when you can’t use the other driver’s coverage.

Related Reading: How Much UIM Auto Insurance Do I Need?

You Can Be Fined for Driving Without Active Insurance

If you are involved in a crash while driving without insurance, even if the crash was not your fault, you could still be in trouble.

There is no difference in the eyes of the law between someone who is driving without insurance because they never had any, and someone who had insurance but let their policy lapse or get canceled for non-payment.

Anyone who is caught driving without insurance faces serious consequences, including an automatic suspension of their license, hefty fines, and even potentially jail time.

Georgia Penalties for Driving without Insurance:

  • Charge of misdemeanor
  • Suspension of license for 60 days (first offense) or 90 days (second offense onward)
  • Fine of between $200-$1,000
  • Up to 12 months in jail

VIDEO: Gary Bruce discusses what to do when the other driver in a wreck refuses to provide their insurance information.

Insurance Grace Periods for Lapsed Coverage

Sometimes coverage lapses are due to oversight. It can be easy to miss a payment when your life is hectic. Thankfully, your insurance company cannot cancel your policy without notice. They must first give you a warning and a chance to pay. This is usually up until your bill is 10 days late, but the time frame can depend on your insurer.   It happens more often than you might imagine and we have found many times that the other driver actually DID have coverage, even when the insurance company says otherwise early on in the case.

If you pay during this notice period, it won’t be counted as a lapse, and your coverage will usually be backdated to cover those days so your record shows uninterrupted coverage. This is important because going even one day without active insurance could also cause your insurance rates to increase.

You can get a policy that lapsed or was canceled reinstated, but your rates will usually go up and you will likely have to pay fees to get it reinstated.

If your insurance expires rather than lapses for lack of payment, you have 30 days to provide the DMV with proof of new insurance, or your vehicle registration will be suspended.

If you get into a wreck while your insurance is inactive because of a missed payment, it MAY be possible to still file a claim if it was reinstated “with no lapse” (e.g., if it happened within the 10-day grace period) and the missed payment was made right away, but it’s not a guarantee. Likewise, it may be possible to file a claim if you switched to a new insurer, but the new policy wasn’t active yet. Again, this is not a guarantee.

In most cases, if you were driving with lapsed or expired coverage, and you were at fault for the accident, you should expect to have to pay for your own and the other driver’s losses out of pocket. The insurance company has NO responsibility to pay if you weren’t covered at the time of the crash.

Injured in a Wreck? Get Gary Bruce

At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we’ve seen just about every type of car crash, and we know how devastating it is when someone is injured and believes they have no opportunity to pay for their expenses or get compensation.

We work hard to help injury victims get the money they deserve for crashes that weren’t their fault, and we want to help you, too. Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation.  We have found coverage where none was thought to exist – sometimes it takes more effort than most lawyers are willing to provide.