Georgia’s average car insurance rates are 12 percent lower than the national average. But rates are steadily climbing. If you haven’t examined your car insurance policy, now is the best time to start. Even if you think you’re getting a good rate, you could be overpaying by hundreds of dollars. And there’s one thing you can do about it: Shop around.
Auto insurers look at your driving record, your vehicle and your credit score, among other factors, when calculating your rate. Every company weighs these factors slightly differently. To find the best insurer for your situation, you’ll need to obtain some quotes. It’s a good idea to start with at least five companies.
You should be able to get most of your quotes online in just a few minutes. If you have to call for a quote, expect that to add 10 minutes to the process. Most of the information that you need will be easy to provide (your name, address, date of birth, etc.), but if you don’t know your average annual mileage or the details of any accidents from the past five years, get that information before you get started.
Find the Best Car Insurance
Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Georgia
The four companies on this list all earned “excellent” or “superior” grades from A.M. Best, a top agency for rating financial strength, and high scores from J.D. Power, a global leader in customer satisfaction surveys. These factors are as important as a low price. When you file a claim, you want to be sure the company will be able to pay claims and to do so promptly. The four insurers listed above meet both these criteria.
(If you’re in the military or someone in your immediate family is, you might be eligible for USAA, which consistently ranks high for low rates, customer service and financial solvency. You should absolutely get a quote from USAA if it’s available to you.)
Georgia’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2019
Georgia residents are required to have $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, plus $25,000 of property damage liability coverage.
Before you go ahead and buy the minimum coverage, think about this:
- Every 17.9 years the average driver will have an accident.
- The average cost of an accident that causes a disabling, nonfatal injury is $93,800, according to the National Safety Council. That doesn’t include property damages.
Say a driver gets into an accident that leads to an $80,000 injury. If he or she has minimum coverage, that means the insurance company might pay only $25,000, leaving the driver to come up with the remaining $55,000. The driver probably will be sued and end up draining his bank account to cover the damages. That’s something most people would rather avoid. Wouldn’t you?
Actually, $80,000 worth of damages, excluding property damage, is an optimistic scenario. Property damages easily could hit that number. And if the driver hits more than one person and/or car at the same time, the results of a pileup could be devastating.
Doubling coverage limits doesn’t add that much to the policy cost in many cases, and in the event of an accident, you would rest much easier than if you had a basic, cheap car insurance policy.
What happens if you skip coverage?
Expect your vehicle registration to be suspended for up to six months if you drive without insurance. You’ll have to pay a number of fees and provide proof of current insurance, called SR-22 certification, to reinstate your registration.
Why get uninsured motorist coverage?
It’s recommended that you add uninsured motorist coverage to your auto policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 12 percent of Georgia drivers are uninsured. If one of them hits you and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll have to pay for the damages yourself, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you from having to pay out of pocket for damages caused by another driver who is uninsured.
Why are Georgia’s rates so low?
Most of Georgia is fairly rural, which helps keep premiums below average. But state laws enacted in 2008 gave insurers the right to raise rates on some types of coverage without approval of the state insurance commissioner. This has had a serious effect on premium costs. Georgia led the nation in auto insurance rate increases in 2014 and came in second the year before. If this trend continues, Georgia residents may see their car insurance rates climb even higher in the coming years.
In addition to rising insurance rates, Georgia has seen a big increase in auto repair costs over the past few years.
Is Georgia a no-fault state?
If you get into a car accident in a no-fault insurance state, your insurance will pay your bills regardless of whether the accident was your fault. Georgia does not follow the no-fault rule and is an at-fault state.
What if I’m in the military?
USAA is an insurance provider that serves active-duty personnel and their immediate family members and veterans. It is highly likely that those with ties to the U.S. military would get the best overall deal with USAA. If that’s you, make sure you look into this opportunity.
Remember that JD Power study that was mentioned earlier? USAA scored the highest for customer service satisfaction (often by a large margin) in almost every region where it offered service.
What if I’m not a full-time resident?
If you’re going to be in Georgia for more than 30 days, you’re required to register your vehicle there and comply with state insurance laws. The exception is military personnel on activity duty, who may maintain their home-state registration.
Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years, Even If You’re Happy
Everyone knows auto insurers look at risk when determining premiums, but few people know they also consider loyalty. They look at your credit score, your online shopping habits and even your social media activity to determine how likely you are to remain loyal to them. Then, they charge you accordingly, which is a practice known as price optimization. But it doesn’t work like you’d imagine. Loyalty isn’t rewarded; it’s penalized. If the company believes you won’t look elsewhere for a better deal, it will charge you a higher rate and you won’t even know the difference.
There is something you can do about this, though: Look for new policies. Do you know how insurance companies can dig into all your personal data? They also know when you apply for quotes with other companies. So, if you have a history of going against the flow, insurers will acknowledge it — and that means they won’t try to take advantage of you with incremental rate increases. Revenue is an important part of any business, and auto insurance companies would much rather keep you as a low-paying customer than lose you completely.
A growing number of jurisdictions have addressed the practice and taken a stand against price optimization by siding with drivers. Georgia hasn’t yet joined the ranks.
It’s up to you to be aware of this tactic and know how to avoid it. That means regularly re-evaluating your coverage and getting quotes to see if you can find a better deal elsewhere.
There are a lot of factors that affect your auto insurance premium, but there is also a lot you can do to contain them. For example, depending on your policy, you can save on your premiums by paying in full and limiting your driving. Working on your credit score, letting insurance companies monitor your driving and taking a defensive driver course can also lead to big savings. Maintaining a good driving record gets you low rates, too. If you’re shopping for a young driver, keep in mind that various insurance agencies define “new driver” in different ways, so it makes sense to get several quotes.
Cheap auto insurance isn’t always the best car insurance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get great coverage at an affordable rate. Shopping around is the best way to keep costs down and it’s the easiest way, by far. If you dedicate just 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon to applying for quotes from at least five different auto insurance companies, you could find hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in savings.
To be a real smart shopper, make sure you take the extra step and compare not only the minimum coverage but upgraded coverage as well. Get your five quotes now!