Who is Covered by an Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy?
Who is Covered by a Georgia Uninsured Motorist Policy?
OCGA Section 33-7-11 is the Georgia Uninsured Motorist Act and it defines who is covered by the policy. It lays out 2 general classes of people entitled to insurance coverage;
In Class 1 the actual people named in the policy and the relatives or spouse of named people when they live in the same household. Same household generally means under the same roof.
In Class 2 people that use the insured car with permission, people that are passengers in a covered car.
Class 1 has greater protections in that the UM policy coverages follow the person around. For example, if you are 21 and live with your mother who has a $25,000 stacking UM insurance policy and you have your own car insurance policy for $25,000 of the stacking variety, you have $50,000 in UM insurance in case you are run over as a pedestrian or are struck by a uninsured or underinsured driver.
Class 2 people are only protected when they are in the insured car. So if a class 2 insured is walking around shopping and get hit by a car, even though they were a passenger earlier in the day in the insured car, they are not covered by the insurance policy.
Who is a Resident Relative in Georgia Under a UM Policy?
So the question often arises, who is a resident relative for uninsured motorist coverage purposes? The answer is relatives by blood or marriage, including grandchildren.
Residency is determined by looking at the totality of all of the facts and you can be a dual resident of a household. Look at phone bills, medical bills, voting records, tax return, and drivers license addresses. How often they stayed, whether they had clothes and their own room in the home.
Keep in mind the law that in Georgia, you may have dual residency. In Allstate v. Daniel 290 Ga. App. 898 (2008) the appellate courts made it clear that you can reside in two places for insurance purposes.
“In deciding whether a relative is a resident of the named insured’s household, we generally consider both the language of the insurance policy and “the aggregate details of the family’s living arrangements.” Our courts have held that “[t]he ordinary and accepted meaning of the phrase `one residing in the same household’ in an insurance policy pertains to one who physically maintains permanent or frequently utilized living accommodations.” And an individual may have more than one residence for purposes of insurance coverage.”
What if the person lives under the same roof, but in an apartment downstairs?
Most uninsured motorist policies say that if the victim making the uninsured motorist claim is hurt by a relative driving another vehicle the relative owns, then that person causing the crash is not uninsured motorist because of the relative in household exclusion. It does not apply if the relative does not live in the same household.
The policy language says: Resident means a person who continuously lives in your household and is not related by blood marriage or adoption. The key then is whether they live in the household.
Georgia Courts have held that a household “a collective body of persons who live in one house or within the same curtilage under one head or management.” State Farm Fire & Co. v Goodman, et al., 259 Ga App 62 (2002).
So, is a relative who lives in a separate apartment not a relative under the terms of the policy? Possibly if the facts show separate finances, mailing address and behavior consistent with running their own household.
So when dealing with uninsured motorist coverage, be sure to thoroughly analyze all of your living arrangements to make sure you are not leaving any insurance coverage out.