2020 Georgia Code
Title 33 - Insurance
Chapter 34 - Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations
§ 33-34-3. Requirements for Issuance of Policies

Universal Citation: GA Code § 33-34-3 (2020)
    1. All policies of motor vehicle liability insurance issued in this state must be in accordance with the requirements of this chapter. Such policies shall contain at least the minimum coverages required under this chapter and shall be issued for a minimum term of six months.
    2. All insurers authorized to transact or transacting insurance in this state or controlling or controlled by or under common control by or with an insurer authorized to transact or transacting insurance in this state which issue policies or contracts providing motor vehicle liability insurance coverage or any other similar coverage in any state or Canadian province shall include in the policies or contracts of insurance a provision which provides at least the minimum liability coverage required under Code Section 33-34-4 with respect to motorists insured under the policies or contracts who are involved in motor vehicle accidents in this state and, notwithstanding any provisions of the policies or contracts to the contrary, all such policies or contracts of insurance shall be deemed to satisfy the minimum requirements of this chapter if a motorist insured under the policies or contracts of insurance is involved in a motor vehicle accident in this state.
    3. Nothing contained in this Code section shall be deemed to prohibit a nonadmitted insurer not otherwise required by paragraph (2) of this subsection to provide the minimum liability coverage required by Code Section 33-34-4 from providing such coverage for its insured motorists who are involved in motor vehicle accidents in this state and, to the extent that such coverage is provided, such policies or contracts shall be deemed to provide the minimum liability coverage required by this chapter.
      1. No insurer shall issue a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance without requiring advance payment for the first 30 days of coverage. Insurers may rely on the insured's statements in the policy application for the purpose of calculating the initial payment required by this paragraph. This paragraph shall not apply to any renewal or continuation of a policy, to any replacement of a policy where there is no lapse of coverage, or to any personal automobile policy issued in connection with an employer sponsored payroll deduction plan. This paragraph shall apply only to personal automobile or family-type automobile liability insurance policies.
      2. If an insurer, agent, or premium finance company collects such advance payment in the form of a check or money order which is not honored upon initial presentation, such insurer, agent, or premium finance company shall be deemed to have complied with subparagraph (A) of this paragraph and may, thereafter, cancel for nonpayment of premium as provided in Code Section 33-24-44.
  1. Nothing in Code Section 33-34-4 shall be construed to prohibit the issuance of policies providing coverage more extensive than the minimum liability coverage required by that Code section.
  2. Policies purporting to satisfy the requirements of Code Section 33-34-4 shall contain a provision which states that, notwithstanding any of the other terms and conditions of the policy, the coverage afforded shall be at least as extensive as the minimum liability coverage required.
  3. Each policy of liability insurance issued in this state providing coverage to motor vehicles owned by a person, firm, or corporation engaged in the business of selling at retail new and used motor vehicles shall provide that, when an accident involves the operation of a motor vehicle by a person who is neither the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident nor an employee of the owner and the operator of the motor vehicle is an insured under a complying policy other than the complying policy insuring the motor vehicle involved in the accident, primary coverage as to all coverages provided in the policy under which the operator is an insured shall be afforded by the liability policy insuring the said operator and any liability policy under which the owner is an insured shall afford excess coverages.If the liability policy under which the owner is an insured and which affords excess coverage contains a provision which eliminates such excess coverage based on the existence of coverage provided in the operator's liability policy, such provision of the owner's liability policy shall be void.
  4. Each policy of motor vehicle liability insurance issued in this state shall provide that the requirement for giving notice of a claim, if not satisfied by the insured within 30 days of the date of the accident, may be satisfied by an injured third party who, as the result of such accident, has a claim against the insured; provided, however, that notice of a claim given by an injured third party to an insurer under this subsection shall be accomplished by mail.Each policy of motor vehicle liability insurance issued or renewed in this state shall be deemed to include and construed as including the provision regarding the notice requirements provided in this subsection.

(Code 1981, §33-34-3, enacted by Ga. L. 1991, p. 1608, § 1.12; Ga. L. 1995, p. 1011, § 8; Ga. L. 2004, p. 430, § 1; Ga. L. 2019, p. 386, § 112/SB 133.)

The 2019 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, in subsection (e), in the first sentence, deleted "on or after October 1, 1991," following "issued in this state" near the beginning, and inserted "that" following "provided, however," near the end, and deleted "on and after October 1, 1991," following "renewed in this state" in the middle of the second sentence.

Cross references.

- Restrictions on right of insurance companies to cancel certification showing proof of financial responsibility for the future, § 40-9-82.

Assigned risk plans, self-insurance, and "spot" insurance regarding motor vehicles, § 40-9-100 et seq.

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1995, substituted "employer sponsored" for "employer- sponsored" in the third sentence of subparagraph (a)(4)(A).

Law reviews.

- For annual survey of insurance law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 253 (2004).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3, and Ga. L. 1974, p. 113, § 5, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Constitutionality.

- Subsection (e) of former Ga. L. 1978, p. 2075, § 1 (see subsection (d) of O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3) was not unconstitutional as being violative of Ga. Const. 1976, Art. III, Sec. VII, Para. IV (see Ga. Const. 1983, Art. III, Sec. V, Para. III). Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., 245 Ga. 558, 266 S.E.2d 175 (1980) (decided under former Ga. L. 1978, p. 2075, § 1).

Provision that motor vehicle insurance policies issued by insurers authorized to transact business in the state are deemed to provide the minimum coverage required by Georgia law when the insured is involved in an accident in Georgia is shielded from attack under the Commerce Clause by the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1011, and the provision does not retroactively impair obligations under the contract or violate equal protection in violation of the Georgia Constitution. Bankers Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 267 Ga. 134, 475 S.E.2d 619 (1996).

Applicability of subsection (e).

- Language of subsection (e) of former § 33-34-3 (see now subsection (d) of O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3) did not explicitly or expressly limit the statute's application to situations involving loaners or test-driver vehicles. Standard Guar. Ins. Co. v. Grange Mut. Cas. Co., 182 Ga. App. 842, 357 S.E.2d 295 (1987) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

No coverage meant no application of § 33-34-3. - Because the declarations page of an automobile insurance policy unequivocally showed that no liability coverage was purchased for the covered vehicle, O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3 did not apply. Simalton v. AIU Ins. Co., 284 Ga. App. 152, 643 S.E.2d 553 (2007).

Nonowner driving with permission of insured.

- Passage of compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance limited application of the "rule of election" by which one who was not the named insured of the policy was covered by the policy only if he or she so elected, so specific election of coverage was no longer required; thus, an insurer could not use a nonowner driver's failure to affirmatively seek coverage under the owner's policy to avoid the policy's contractual obligation and the insurer's liability was not limited to the statutory minimum coverage for compulsory insurance. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 264 Ga. 347, 444 S.E.2d 739 (1994) (decided under former Ga. L. 1978, p. 2075, § 1).

Dealer's insurance is excess when customer has own insurance protection.

- O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3 provides, in effect, that every "policy of liability insurance" issued in Georgia providing "coverage" to vehicles owned by automobile dealers shall provide that when an accident involves a loaner (a temporary substitute vehicle furnished by a dealer) driven by a customer and the customer-driver has his or her own insurance protection other than under the dealer's policy, primary coverage as to "all coverages" provided by the driver's policy shall be afforded by that policy, and the dealer's insurance shall be excess. Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., 245 Ga. 558, 266 S.E.2d 175 (1980).

Insurance coverage on dealer "loaner" vehicle.

- Nothing required an insurer to provide excess insurance on a loaner car above the statutory minimum limits but the law required excess coverage in an amount not less than the limits; summary judgment reducing coverage below the limits was error. Hendrix v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 263 Ga. App. 589, 588 S.E.2d 761 (2003).

Statute shifted primary coverage from the dealer's insurer in derogation of the general rule that automobile insurance followed the car; the test-driver's private automobile insurance afforded primary coverage and the dealer-owner's automobile policy afforded excess coverage. Motors Ins. Co. v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 251 Ga. App. 661, 555 S.E.2d 37 (2001).

Rental cars.

- Operator's insurance was primary and the owner's insurance afforded excess coverage, if any, in the case of a rental car, even though the operator's policy contained an "excess insurance" clause which stated that any liability insurance provided by the company for a vehicle not owned by the insured should be in excess of any other collectible insurance. Jones v. Wortham, 201 Ga. App. 668, 411 S.E.2d 716, cert. denied, 201 Ga. App. 904, 411 S.E.2d 716 (1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Typically, when the owner and the driver are both covered by insurance and one of the policies contains an "excess insurance" clause pertaining to nonownership coverage, the owner's policy is primary and the other policy affords the excess coverage. Jones v. Wortham, 201 Ga. App. 668, 411 S.E.2d 716, cert. denied, 201 Ga. App. 904, 411 S.E.2d 716 (1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

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).

Coverage for non-designated health-care providers.

- Nothing in former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-1 et seq. authorized the self-insurer to condition its statutory obligation to pay no-fault benefits upon the insured's submission of claims for services that had been rendered only by certain designated health-care providers or to exclude no-fault coverage for services that had been rendered by non-designated health-care providers. Oluyole Pius Olukoya v. American Ass'n of Cab Cos., 202 Ga. App. 251, 414 S.E.2d 275 (1991), cert. denied, 202 Ga. App. 907, 414 S.E.2d 275 (1992) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Settlement for the limits as stated in the policy satisfies the exhaustion requirement of O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1, even though under the "deemer" statute the tortfeasor's policy is deemed to provide greater coverage. Daniels v. Johnson, 270 Ga. 289, 509 S.E.2d 41 (1998).

When the insured settles a claim with the tortfeasor's liability insurer for the limits stated in the policy, the underinsured motorist carrier may plead and prove the availability of additional available coverage under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3, and thus have its liability reduced by the amount the plaintiff waived. Daniels v. Johnson, 270 Ga. 289, 509 S.E.2d 41 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Statutory minimum coverage requirement for an insured's out-of- state policy was not affected by the insured's alleged status as a Georgia resident. Atlanta Cas. Co. v. Gagnon, 174 Ga. App. 452, 330 S.E.2d 390 (1985) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Personal injury protection coverage when policy transaction out-of- state.

- When an insured's vehicle was registered in Georgia, but the insured's policy of insurance was solicited, negotiated, issued, and delivered out-of-state, the insurer was required to provide only $5,000 minimum personal injury protection coverage as specified in subparagraph (a)(2) of former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3. Atlanta Cas. Co. v. Gagnon, 174 Ga. App. 452, 330 S.E.2d 390 (1985) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Out of state accidents involving vehicles in Georgia for over 30 days.

- Paragraph (a)(2) of O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3 extends coverage only where the insured is involved in an accident in Georgia, and not to accidents occurring out of state in vehicles which may have been in Georgia for more than 30 days. Spicer v. Old Republic Ins. Co., 204 Ga. App. 67, 418 S.E.2d 422 (1992).

Coverage for damage to vehicle loaned by automobile dealer not required.

- Public policy does not require that an insurer provide primary coverage for damage to a vehicle loaned to insured by an automobile dealer when the insurance policy provides only for liability coverage and not for collision coverage. Barfield v. Allstate Ins. Co., 172 Ga. App. 882, 324 S.E.2d 731 (1985) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3).

Insurance clause exempting company from liability if insured avoiding arrest.

- Clause in an automobile liability policy exempting insurance company from liability if the automobile is involved in an accident occurring while an insured is attempting to avoid apprehension or arrest is void as against public policy, but only to the extent of insurance required by the compulsory insurance law at the time of the collision. Cotton States Mut. Ins. Co. v. Neese, 254 Ga. 335, 329 S.E.2d 136 (1985).

Pedestrian motorist.

- O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3 does not refer only to those individuals actually riding in motor vehicles at the time the accident involving a motor vehicle occurs so that the estate of an insured who had stopped to make a telephone call and was killed by a truck upon the insured's return to the insured's vehicle was properly a motorist. Green v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 206 Ga. App. 478, 426 S.E.2d 3 (1992).

Subrogation rights of no-fault insurer under former law.

- Under former no-fault statutes, the no-fault insurer of a motorist injured in an automobile accident did not waive the insurer's subrogation rights against the tortfeasor by failing to intervene in the insured's tort action. Southern Gen. Ins. Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co., 218 Ga. App. 400, 461 S.E.2d 574 (1995).

Secondary insurer not liable.

- Car dealer's insurance was secondary under O.C.G.A. § 33-34-3(d), and no underinsured motorist (UM) benefits were paid to an injured party driving a car belonging to a car dealership, after stacking the UM coverages, when the injured party's own policy's UM benefits were sufficient to cover the liability limit set by the tortfeasor's policy. Crouch v. Federated Mut. Ins. Co., 257 Ga. App. 604, 571 S.E.2d 574 (2002).

Cited in Green v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 206 Ga. App. 478, 426 S.E.2d 3 (1992); Canal Indem. Company/Strickland Gen. Agency, Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 207 Ga. App. 69, 427 S.E.2d 66 (1993); Mathews v. Continental Cas. Co., 228 Ga. App. 666, 492 S.E.2d 535 (1997).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Automobile insurance: pleading and proof as to value, 64 A.L.R. 172.

Liability or indemnity insurance as regards accident as "accident insurance,", 77 A.L.R. 1416.

Liability insurance: insurer's assumption of, or continuation in, defense of action brought against the assured waiver, or estoppel, as regards defense of noncoverage, or other defense existing at time of accident, 81 A.L.R. 1326; 38 A.L.R.2d 1148.

Liability insurance: limitation of time within which to sue insurer, 83 A.L.R. 748.

Refusal of automobile liability or indemnity insurer to assume defense of action against insured upon ground that claim upon which action is based is not within coverage of policy, 133 A.L.R. 1516; 49 A.L.R.2d 694; 50 A.L.R.2d 458.

Liability of insurer based upon its act of withdrawal after assumption of defense, 167 A.L.R. 243.

Waiver by insurance company of right to subrogation, 16 A.L.R.2d 1269.

Right to subrogation, as against primary insurer, of liability insurer providing secondary insurance, 31 A.L.R.2d 1324.

Rights and remedies of insurer paying loss as against insured who has released or settled with third person responsible for loss, 51 A.L.R.2d 697.

Apportionment of liability between automobile liability insurers where one of the policies has an "excess insurance" clause and the other a "proportionate" or "pro rata" clause, 76 A.L.R.2d 502.

Liability insurer's rights and duties as to defense and settlement as affected by its having issued policies covering parties who have conflicting interests, 18 A.L.R.3d 482.

Subrogation rights of insurer under medical payments provision of automobile insurance policy, 19 A.L.R.3d 1054.

Validity and effect of "loan receipt" agreement between injured party and one tortfeasor, for loan repayable to extent of injured party's recovery from a cotort-feasor, 62 A.L.R.3d 1111.

When does statute of limitations begin to run upon an action by subrogated insurer against third-party tortfeasor, 91 A.L.R.3d 844.

Druggist's civil liability for injuries sustained as result of negligence in incorrectly filling drug prescriptions, 3 A.L.R.4th 270.

Liability insurer's postloss conduct as waiver of, or estoppel to assert, "no-action" clause, 68 A.L.R.4th 389.

Application of automobile insurance "entitlement" exclusion to family member, 25 A.L.R.5th 60.

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