At this point in time, Georgia’s average car insurance rates are pretty low; 12 percent less than the national average, in fact. However, that rate is steadily climbing higher and higher thanks to state laws that give insurers the freedom to raise rates without state approval. So if you haven’t taken your car insurance situation seriously yet, now is the best time to start. Even if you think you’re getting a good rate (I’m willing to bet most of us probably don’t) my research shows that you could be overpaying in the hundreds of dollars. And there’s one big thing you can do about it: Shop around.
I got quotes for the state’ minimum coverage from four companies and found I could save over $2,000 annually by choosing Progressive over the rest. Here’s the thing: The rate I found is based off me, not you, or anyone else. Insurers look at a customer’s driving record, your vehicle, and your credit score, among other factors, when calculating your rate. On top of that, every company weighs these factors slightly differently. Obviously, there’s no way I could recommend one company to you based on my own savings, so you’ll need to get some quotes for yourself. I recommend starting with at least five companies, but the more the better.
You should be able to get most of your quotes online in less than five minutes each. 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 pretty easy to cough up (your name, DOB, address, and so on), but if you don’t know your average annual mileage or the details of any accidents from the past five years, make sure to look them up before getting started.
Progressive was my cheapest quote at $1,292, with State Farm falling behind at $2,986. The other two quotes from Geico and Allstate were much higher because they required me to purchase limits above the state minimum or optional protection, like uninsured motorist or collision coverage. That said, if you’re interested in upgrading from the minimum coverage — which I highly recommend — those two might be more of an affordable option.
Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years
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 — 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, they’ll 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. 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 (and probably bogus) 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 to lose you completely.
A growing number of jurisdictions (20 as of 2018) have taken a stand against price optimization by siding with drivers and officially addressed the practice. Unfortunately, Georgia hasn’t yet joined the ranks.
The Consumer Federation of America wrote a letter to the state’s insurance commissioner urging the him to ban this practice, but whether he will do so remains to be seen. In the meantime, it’s up to you to be aware of this discriminatory tactic and take steps to avoid it. That means regularly reevaluating your coverage and getting quotes to see if you can find a better deal elsewhere.
The Bare Minimum
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.
The Best Car Insurance is Not Just Cheap Car Insurance
Before you go ahead and purchase 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, but nonfatal injury, is $80,700 — and that doesn’t include property damages.
Say I get into an accident that leads to an $80,000 injury. If I have minimum coverage, that means my insurance company will only pay $25,000, leaving me to come up with the remaining $55,000 on my own. I’ll probably be sued and end up draining my bank account to cover the damages. That’s something I’d rather avoid. Wouldn’t you?
And honestly, $80,000 worth of damages is kind of an optimistic scenario. First off, it doesn’t include property damages, which could easily reach an equivalent value. Second, imagine I hit more than one person and/or car at the same time. The results of a pileup could be devastating.
Doubling my coverage limits to $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 would only cost an extra $27 a year with Progressive; literally pocket change. I won’t even notice the extra $2 I’m paying every month, but in the event of an accident, I can rest much more easily than if I had your basic cheap car insurance policy.
Consider adding uninsured motorist coverage as well. 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 this 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.
If You Skip Coverage, It’ll Cost You
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 in order to reinstate your registration. Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Find the Best Car Insurance
Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Beat the Average Premium
There are a ton of factors that affect your auto insurance premiums, but there’s also a lot you can do to lower them. For example, I save on my premiums by paying in full and limiting my driving, which usually earns me some nice discounts. Working on your credit score, letting insurance companies monitor your driving, and taking a defensive driver course can also lead to big savings.
Why are Georgia’s rates so low?
Most of Georgia is fairly rural, which helps keep their premiums nearly 12 percent below the national average. But it may not stay that way. State laws enacted in 2008 gave insurers the right to raise rates on some types of coverage without getting approval from 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 keeps up, Georgia residents may see their rates climb even higher in the coming years.
In addition to climbing rates, Georgia has seen a big increase in auto repair costs over the past few years. All in all, it’s not a cheap state to insure or repair a car.
What if I’m in the military?
If you’re in the military, you have an awesome reason to be excited about your search for car insurance: USAA. If you aren’t aware, USAA is an insurance provider that services active members of the military and their immediate family members. I have a few cousins that serve our country, but no one closer, so I wasn’t able to obtain a quote. However, it is highly likely that those in the service are going to get the best overall experience with USAA. If that’s you, definitely make sure to take advantage of the opportunity.
Remember that JD Power study that I mentioned earlier? USAA scored the highest for customer service satisfaction (often by a large margin) in almost every single region it offered service. I also contacted a few body shops during my research, asking about which companies were the easiest or worst to work with, and almost everyone praised the company as the gold standard for car insurance — including the attorney I interviewed during my research.
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.
During my research, I asked Georgia attorney Katherine Rutledge Silver a few questions about her experience dealing with vehicular claims litigation. Here’s what she had to say:
Should drivers consider more than the minimum coverage? Why or why not?
Drivers should consider more than minimum coverage in order to protect their assets. If you are in a car wreck and are sued, your insurer will pay up to your policy’s coverage limits. If an injured party has damages (medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering) that exceed your policy limits, you could be on the hook personally for that excess amount. In Georgia, the minimum coverage is $25,000.00 per injured person. I can tell you from experience representing individuals injured in car wrecks, it does not take long for medical expenses to reach and exceed $25,000.00.
Based on your experience, what is the average cost of damages from a serious, but non-fatal wreck?
Damages resulting from a wreck are very fact specific. For instance, someone could have been seriously injured in a wreck, but be averse to medical treatment and therefore not incur much by way of medical bills. Another person could have sustained relatively minor injuries but receive lots of follow up care and missed time from work. The second individual, with what appear to be lesser injuries, could recover more in damages.
Given how expensive medical care has become, even minor injuries sustained in a car wreck can result in substantial medical expenses and therefore substantial damages.
What is the most common vehicular incident in your area?
I represent many clients that are injured in wrecks that result from a negligent driver following too closely behind another vehicle and failing to brake in time. I have also noticed an uptick in cases that are the result of distracted driving. Juries are especially attuned to evidence that an at fault driver was texting when a wreck occurred.
Have you observed any particular auto insurance companies to be easier to work with than others? Which insurer makes the claims process the easiest?
I generally become involved in insurance claims when the insurance company is not handling the claim as they should, so my view of insurance companies and how they process claims may be a little skewed. That being said, I have found that USAA Insurance, which provides insurance for military members and their families, is one of the easier insurance companies to work with.
The Bottom Line
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 number-one way to keep costs down; 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 companies you could find hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings. I spent 30 minutes and found over $2,000 worth, which is kind of like making $4,000 an hour. All joking aside, it’s an incredibly smart thing to do. You find better savings now, and also prevent being taken advantage of by price optimization in the future — it’s a win-win.
And if I’ve convinced you to become a smart shopper, make sure to take the extra step and compare not only the minimum coverage, but upgraded coverage as well. Having $25,000 of bodily injury just doesn’t cut it; one trip to the emergency room could easily run that dry. So while it might seem that the state is doing you a favor by having low minimum requirements, it’s not the smartest idea. Get your five quotes now! Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Find the Best Car Insurance
Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.