2020 Georgia Code
Title 33 - Insurance
Chapter 34 - Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations
§ 33-34-2. Definitions

Universal Citation: GA Code § 33-34-2 (2020)

As used in this chapter, the term:

  1. "Medical payments coverage" includes any coverage in which the insurer agrees to reimburse the insured and others for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and funeral expenses incurred as a result of bodily injury or death caused by a motor vehicle accident, without regard to the insured's liability for the accident. Coverage shall be available to the named insured, resident spouse, and any resident relative while occupying the covered motor vehicle, and to any other person legally occupying a covered motor vehicle. Expenses must be incurred for services rendered within three years from the date of the accident; provided, however, that nothing shall prevent an insurer from allowing a longer period of time. Any rule or regulation promulgated which expands or conflicts with this definition shall be null and void.
  2. "Motor vehicle" means a vehicle having more than three load-bearing wheels of a kind required to be registered under the laws of this state relating to motor vehicles designed primarily for operation upon the public streets, roads, and highways and driven by power other than muscular power. The term includes a trailer drawn by or attached to such a vehicle and also includes without limitation a low-speed vehicle.
  3. "Owner" means the natural person, corporation, firm, partnership, cooperative, association, group, trust, estate, organization, or other entity in whose name the motor vehicle has been registered. If no registration is in effect at the time of an accident involving the motor vehicle, the term means the natural person, corporation, firm, partnership, cooperative, association, group, trust, estate, organization, or other entity who holds the legal title to the motor vehicle or, in the event the motor vehicle is subject to a security agreement or lease with an option to purchase with the debtor or the lessee having the right to possession, the term means the debtor or the lessee.
  4. "Self-insurer" means any owner who has on file with the Commissioner an approved plan of self-insurance which provides for coverages, benefits, and efficient claims handling procedures substantially equivalent to those afforded by a policy of automobile liability insurance that complies with all of the requirements of this chapter.

(Code 1981, §33-34-2, enacted by Ga. L. 1991, p. 1608, § 1.12; Ga. L. 1997, p. 683, § 4; Ga. L. 2002, p. 512, § 1; Ga. L. 2019, p. 386, § 111/SB 133.)

The 2019 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, deleted "of Insurance" following "Commissioner" near the beginning of paragraph (4).

Law reviews.

- For article, "No-Fault Automobile Insurance In Georgia: Is Revision in Order?", see 27 Ga. St. B.J. 68 (1990).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-2, and Ga. L. 1975, p. 1207, §§ 1, 2, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Farm tractor was "motor vehicle" based on uninsured motorist statute.

- Farm tractor towing a mobile home on a county road was a "motor vehicle" for purposes of the uninsured motorist statute, O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11. Hinton v. Interstate Guar. Ins. Co., 267 Ga. 516, 480 S.E.2d 842 (1997).

Ownership upon delivery even without compliance with recording and insurance statutes.

- When a seller had delivered possession of the automobile to the buyer and the transaction was complete as between them even though compliance had not yet been made with recording and insurance statutes, the buyer was the "owner" of the automobile, and the buyer alone, and not the seller or the seller's insurer, was liable to a third party for injuries sustained in an accident while the buyer was driving the automobile. American Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Cotton States Mut. Ins. Co., 149 Ga. App. 280, 253 S.E.2d 825 (1979) (decided under former Ga. L. 1975, p. 1202, §§ 1, 2).

Plan and certificate of self-insurance serves as substantial equivalent of an insurance "policy" for the purposes of O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11. Unless the plan of self-insurance submitted to the commissioner of public safety rejects the minimum uninsured motorist coverage in writing, such coverage will be implied as contained in the plan. Twyman v. Robinson, 255 Ga. 711, 342 S.E.2d 313 (1986).

"Self-insured" who complies with self-insurance law is not financially irresponsible but rather is meeting the state's required minimum, and the self-insurer does not become financially irresponsible just because it chooses the state-permitted option not to insure above the minimum. Nationwide Gen. Ins. Co. v. Parnham, 182 Ga. App. 823, 357 S.E.2d 139 (1987) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-2).

Exclusion in a car rental agreement excluding liability coverage for violations of a use restriction pertaining to driving under the influence was invalid to the extent of the mandatory minimum liability coverage. Ryan v. Boyd, 911 F. Supp. 524 (M.D. Ga. 1996).

Declaratory judgment as to whether rental company was self-insurer was improper.

- In a widow's wrongful death action against rental truck companies, the widow's declaratory judgment claim under O.C.G.A. § 9-4-2 seeking a determination that the companies did not qualify as self-insurers under O.C.G.A. §§ 33-34-2(4) and33-34-5.1 and, thus, could be liable for damages under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3, should have been dismissed because the widow had no direct relationship with the companies, the widow had only a hypothetical and generalized economic interest, and the widow was not in a position of uncertainty. U-Haul Co. of Arizona v. Rutland, 348 Ga. App. 738, 824 S.E.2d 644 (2019).

No-fault benefits denied for homicide following vehicular abduction.

- When the insured automobile was not used to murder the victim nor was the focus of the crime, but was simply used to transport the victim to another state, the use of the vehicle was too remote and attenuated to establish the required causal nexus, such that the spouse was not entitled to a survivor's no-fault benefits. USAA Property & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Wilbur, 207 Ga. App. 57, 427 S.E.2d 49 (1993).

Cited in Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 264 Ga. 347, 444 S.E.2d 739 (1994); Hewell v. Walton County, 292 Ga. App. 510, 664 S.E.2d 875 (2008).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under Ga. L. 1974, p. 113, § 2, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Legislative intent regarding certification of self-insurers.

- Manifest legislative intent, as it appears in the definition of "self-insurer" and as a whole, is for the Department of Public Safety to certify as self-insurers only those owners who undertake to provide reparations on the same terms and conditions as an insurer. 1974 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 74-86 (decided under Ga. L. 1974, p. 113, § 2; but see 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. 75-42).

Self-insurers deemed regulated entities.

- Self-insurance funds for automobile liability are regulated entities for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 21-5-30.1. 1994 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 94-20.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Motorcycle as within contract, statute, or ordinance in relation to motor cars, motor-driven cars, etc., 70 A.L.R. 1253.

Insurance against injuring property or person of third person as liability of indemnity insurance, 83 A.L.R. 677; 117 A.L.R. 239.

Trailers as affecting automobile insurance, 31 A.L.R.2d 298; 65 A.L.R.3d 804.

Meaning of "operate" or "being operated" within clause of automobile liability policy limiting its coverage, 51 A.L.R.2d 924.

Automobile insurance: when is a person "occupying" an automobile within meaning of medical payments provision, 42 A.L.R.3d 501.

What constitutes "commercial automobile" within exclusion from death or disability benefit provided by automobile policy, 66 A.L.R.3d 424.

Motorcycle as within automobile liability policy provision covering temporary or infrequent use of other automobiles, 66 A.L.R.3d 451.

Who is "named insured" within meaning of automobile insurance coverage, 91 A.L.R.3d 1280.

What constitutes "private passenger automobile" in insurance policy provisions defining risks covered or excepted, 11 A.L.R.4th 475.

Automobile insurance: what constitutes "occupying" under owned-vehicle exclusion on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage of automobile insurance policy, 59 A.L.R.5th 191.

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