Over the winter months, hundreds of accidents were reported during slippery conditions in Georgia.
Icy conditions in January in the state caused multiple accidents and road closures. These incidents threaten to push up in insurance rates in Georgia, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Some states like Alabama block insurance companies from increasing rates for individual drivers who are involved in accidents related to a so-called “act of God,” like ice and snow.
This is not the case in Georgia. While state law prevents insurance companies from imposing a surcharge or canceling the policies of drivers who are not at fault for accidents, it does not classify accidents linked to weather conditions as beyond the control of drivers.
The AJC quoted Jo Anne Oni, assistant director of consumer services at the Georgia Department of Insurance. She said Georgia law doesn’t consider icy conditions in auto insurance rates. She said:
“There’s no law that says if it’s an act of nature, or due to weather, the insurers cannot claim it as an at-fault accident.”
In other words, driving in snow or ice is seen as no different from driving in the rain when motorists have a duty to proceed with care and caution.
Oni said it’s important to check an insurance policy after an accident because some insurers have a policy endorsement that forgives an initial at-fault accident.
Under Georgia law, insurers are banned from imposing a surcharge or canceling a policy for drivers who are in multi-vehicle accidents when they were not at fault. Insurers are also not allowed to add extra charges for policies of firefighters, police officers and EMTs.
Georgia sees some of the biggest insurance rate hikes in the nation. In 2016, the increase was the highest in the country at 12.2 percent.
Claims from bad weather may push up overall insurance rates. If Georgia sees many insurance claims from the bad weather, insurers could seek rate increases for everyone.
One of the reasons for the big hikes in Georgia may be historic. The AJC noted a decade ago, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens when he was a state lawmaker, backed a bill to free auto insurers from a rigorous pre-approval process when they tried to raise insurance rates.
Hudgens predicted free market forces would drive insurance rates down. Subsequent trends have not borne that out.
In January, ice and snow led to numerous wrecks and closures including the Southbound I-85 in Jackson County. Truck accidents closed Ga. 53.I-20 westbound in Newton County.
Georgia DOT State Operations Engineer John Hibbard stated:
“There are multiple crashes that are blocking interstates and state routes across the state which are severely impeding our efforts to clear roadways. Ice is among the most difficult winter weather condition to deal with.”
Always exercise care in slippery condition and stay at home if possible. If you were hurt in a crash, call our Georgia car accident lawyer at (404) 913-1529.