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What Insurance Should You Buy?

At Owens & Mulherin, we have noticed that insurance adjusters fail to explain to their clients, i.e., you, what insurance they should buy. We often hear our clients, as well as the at fault drivers, state that they have bought “full coverage.” Note that this is a meaningless term. Automobile insurance is like ordering off of a menu. You pick what you want. The only thing that Georgia requires is $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per occurrence (no matter how many people are injured, the insurance would only pay a total of $50,000) liability coverage. Nothing else is required. Thus, full coverage only means that you have met Georgia’s statutory limits of insurance coverage. Those limits are generally inadequate. The following are the categories of automobile insurance which can be purchased, as well as our recommendations in regard to same:


This coverage is needed if a motor vehicle collision is your fault or the other driver alleges that it is your fault and makes a claim against you or sues. This coverage provides a defense (an insurance adjuster until the lawsuit is filed and then pays for a defense attorney after a lawsuit is filed) and indemnity (will settle or pay a judgment up to the policy limits). $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence is required in Georgia. This is enough if you have no assets to protect but is not enough if you have assets to protect. Of course, more coverage costs more money. If you have assets to protect, we suggest at least $100,000 in liability coverage per person. If you have significant assets, you should buy more than that. 


Umbrella coverage is an additional liability policy that pays after your liability coverage is exhausted, and is typically for $1,000,000 liability. Same is usually fairly inexpensive, i.e., a few hundred dollars per year, but it requires that you have high underlying liability limits, typically $250,000 or $300,000. Thus, if you have very significant assets, you want this coverage. Otherwise, you do not. 


This is property damage coverage for your car after a motor vehicle collision. You need this coverage if the motor vehicle collision is your fault or if you cannot settle your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier. Your insurance would then pay your property damage (repair your vehicle or pay you the fair market value of your vehicle if your vehicle is totaled). Your insurance company then owns your claim (called subrogation) and can make a claim against the other driver and their insurance carrier. You lose your deductible when your insurance company pays for your property damage, although some insurance companies will waive the deductible and pay you the entire amount up front. After your insurance company has paid you for your property damage, they will try to collect from the other insurance company. If they do so, they will normally get your deductible back and will then reimburse you for your deductible at that time. 


This also pays you for your property damage but is for situations where your vehicle is not involved in the collision, i.e., is damaged from hail or hit a deer, etc. Note that, when the value of your car is low enough, you may want to drop collision and comprehensive coverage because the cost of the coverage, in relation to the value of your vehicle, may be too high. 


Same provides you with a rental vehicle if your car is not drivable after a motor vehicle collision. If the other party’s insurance company accepts responsibility for the collision, that insurance company will normally provide you with a rental vehicle. Thus, this coverage applies if the motor vehicle collision is your fault or you cannot resolve your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company. 


This is a health insurance rider on a motor vehicle collision policy. The coverage follows the car. This means that any person in your vehicle has health insurance up to the limits of med pay. It has nothing to do with fault. This insurance is primary, i.e., it pays first and is before an individual’s health insurance. Same is very useful and we recommend buying at least $5,000 in med pay.


Underinsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage is basically the same thing. Uninsured motorist coverage means that the other driver has no liability coverage, while underinsured motorist coverage means that the other driver has inadequate liability limits in relation to your claim. UIM/UM can be purchased for bodily injury (or personal injury) and property damage. Since the other drivers are only required to carry $25,000 per person personal injury (or bodily injury) liability, we strongly recommend that you purchase some underinsured motorist coverage. 

There are two types of UIM/UM coverage, and you have to elect, or choose, which one you want. Traditional, or drop-down, underinsured motorist coverage ensures that the other driver has at least as much liability coverage as you have UIM. For example, if you had $50,000 UIM traditional or drop-down coverage and the Defendant had $25,000 in liability coverage, your UIM would ensure that the total coverage for your personal injury claim is $50,000. Thus, you would have the Defendant’s $25,000 in liability coverage and $25,000 in UIM thereafter, for a total of $50,000 in coverage in regard to your personal injury claim against the other driver. 

Excess, or add on, UIM is what we recommend! Excess or add on UIM provides an additional amount of insurance after you have used up the Defendant’s liability coverage. Thus, if you have $50,000 in add on or excess UIM, and the Defendant has $25,000 in liability coverage, you can collect the Defendant’s $25,000 liability coverage and then $50,000 from your UIM, for $75,000 total coverage for your personal injury claim. 

We also suggest at least $25,000 in UM/UIM property damage add on or excess. If your car is worth more than $25,000, and the other driver only has the required $25,000 in liability coverage, your UIM would ensure that you have a total of $50,000 in coverage. Of course, if you have $50,000 in collision or comprehensive coverage, you do not need the property damage UIM.

Finally, please notify your insurance carrier in writing after an MVC even if you doubt that you will use your insurance! Policies generally require written notification (emails are written, so it does not need to be via a letter) as soon as possible or within 30 to 60 days. Same is a condition to using your policy later if needed.  A failure to notify may mean that you lose your coverage for that MVC. Notification does not affect your insurance premium. Use of UIM also does not affect your premium as a matter of Georgia law. Georgia has a statute indicating exactly that. In other words, your premium can only increase, as a result of an MVC, if it was your fault. 

We hope that the above is helpful for you in regard to purchasing insurance. In particular, note that med pay and UM/UIM are for you, so we recommend same. Note that insurance companies will not  allow you to buy more UM/UIM than you have liability coverage. Thus, if you want more UM/UIM than you have liability coverage, you will also have to increase your liability limits up to the same limits that your purchased for UM/UIM. Then please choose excess or add on UM/UIM coverage.

Should you have any questions about appropriate insurance limits, you can discuss same with your insurance agent as well. Unfortunately, many agents rush through the process and leave individuals with inadequate insurance. We hope that the above helps with your decision regarding what coverage is appropriate for you.

Reviews From Our Clients
  • "I was pregnant and injured in an automobile accident. Mr. Owens, personally, came to the hospital. He told me he would handle everything, I just needed to get healthy for the baby and myself. Mr. Owens did everything he said he would. I highly recommend Owens and Mulherin. Everyone in their office is friendly and informative. You're not just another client with them, they genuinely care." - Lindsay Chadwick

  • "Highly recommend working with this group!! They are very friendly, understanding, caring people and very easy to talk to. They Gave us plenty of time to talk with them. Did not make us feel rushed and explained everything thoroughly. Made the experience the best possible and we had a positive outcome during a tragic time. Thank you to the attorneys and entire staff." - Cindy Shuman

  • "I found Mr. Owens to be very professional and extremely sympathetic towards my needs as a result of my injuries. His experience helped guide me through my case and we ultimately won in the end...settled out of court! Thanks for all your help!" - Diane Calahan

  • "Following an automobile accident I sought representation from Wil Owens. Throughout the process he and his staff were always very kind, informative, and diligent in protecting my rights and interests. I knew my case was minor comparatively speaking, however, they never minimized the importance of my situation or claim. I would highly recommend this local law firm!!Sincerely,Christi (Fry) Vinyard" - Christi Fry

  • "This was my first time having to get an attorney and my experience was great. They make sure you fully understand everything that's going on and make sure the case is settled in your favor. I highly recommend this attorney office if you need one." - Dee James

  • "Absolutely 100% the best law firm around. I was completely blown away by the staff with all their generosity and helpfulness every step of the way. Wilbur Owens is hands down the best attorney I have ever met. He was caring, professional, and helpful in all aspects of my case, from the very begining with all my treatments to the very end with my settlement. He was highly recommend to me and I have heard nothing but great things about him and his firm. They truly are the best around and if ths need were to arise again in the future I will gladly come to the law firm of Owens and Mulherin. Wonderful people and they gave me my life back as well as piece of mind, and for that I am and always will be truly thankful." - Courtney Graves

  • "I had a good experience with Mr. Owens and Ms. Teresa. They were very professional and was on point. It was a long process but it was worth the wait. I would recommend anyone to this lawfirm." - Ashley Robertson

  • "My thanks to Mr. Owens and his crew. After getting injured at work , and not knowing what to do I found them thru a local web search. Everyone in the office was great, Will walked me thru my case and explained how it would go. After everything I would highly recommend this law firm. I can't say enough of Mr. Owens and his staff . Thank you for your help!" - Mark Kalla

  • "I worked with Mr. Ownens and his team for my most recent accident involving 2 uninsured motorists, and I am extremely pleased with the way my case was worked, as well as the outcome. I cannot say anything negative about the law firm whatsoever, but I can tell you that being hit by uninsured vehicles is a nightmare." - Nic Schuman

  • "Loved working with me. Mulherin. Didn’t make me feel rushed or pinned against a wall. He gave me the beat and worse case scenario. Went to bat for me when the insurance company thought they could get away with being cheap. Brooke was amazing to work with to. Always answered calls or emails in a timely manner." - Natasha Campbell

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Wilbur D. Owens Attorney Photo
Wilbur D. Owens

Mr. Owens devotes his practice exclusively to representing plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death claims. His primary focus is automobile/tractor-trailer accidents, dog bites, slip/trip and falls, medical malpractice, injuries from dangerous products, job injuries and nursing home abuse. Before joining forces with Mr. Mulherin to open Owens & Mulherin in 2001, Mr. Owens worked…

Joseph A. Mulherin Attorney Photo
Joseph A. Mulherin

Mr. Mulherin represents individuals in personal injury cases. His primary practice areas are automobile accidents, tractor-trailer collisions, medical malpractice claims and workplace injuries. Before forming Owens & Mulherin with Mr. Owens in 2001, Mr. Mulherin practiced at Bouhan, Williams & Levy, LLP, from 1984 - 2000, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.…

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