2020 Georgia Code
Title 33 - Insurance
Chapter 34 - Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations
§ 33-34-4. Owner Required to Provide Coverage

Universal Citation: GA Code § 33-34-4 (2020)

No owner of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state or any other person, other than a self-insurer as defined in this chapter, shall operate or authorize any other person to operate the motor vehicle unless the owner has motor vehicle liability insurance equivalent to that required as evidence of security for bodily injury and property damage liability under Chapter 9 of Title 40, the "Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act."

(Code 1981, §33-34-4, enacted by Ga. L. 1991, p. 1608, § 1.12.)

Cross references.

- Requirements of motor vehicle liability policies, § 33-7-11.

Minimum amounts of liability insurance coverage required under motor vehicle safety responsibility laws, § 40-9-37.

Law reviews.

- For article, "Why Captives, Lord, What Have They Ever Done?: The Georgia Captive Insurance Company Act," see 26 Ga. St. B.J. 119 (1990).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under Ga. L. 1974, p. 113, § 3; Ga. L. 1975, p. 1202, § 3; and former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Constitutionality.

- Mandatory requirement of insurance coverage is not unconstitutional as violative of due process or First Amendment rights, or as an unlawful exercise of policy power by the state. Williams v. Kennedy, 240 Ga. 163, 240 S.E.2d 51 (1977) (decided under former Ga. L. 1975, p. 1202, § 3).

Onus to procure insurance is put on the owner, and others are prohibited from operating the vehicle until that is done. Integon Indem. Corp. v. Canal Ins. Co., 256 Ga. 692, 353 S.E.2d 186 (1987) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4).

Willful injury.

- Because any driver may be involved in an accident and such an accident may be determined to be the fault of such driver, the intentional act of driving without insurance coupled with negligent driving inflicts both a physical and economic injury, and the economic injury is a willful one. In re Whipple, 138 Bankr. 137 (Bankr. S.D. Ga. 1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4).

Language referring to minimum coverage.

- Payment received by the plaintiff from the plaintiff's own insurer, under optional coverage or additional personal injury protection authorized by this section, is in no way controlled by the language referring to a minimum insurance coverage in this section. City Council v. Lee, 153 Ga. App. 94, 264 S.E.2d 683 (1980) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4).

Policy limiting coverage to vehicles owned by the insured or temporary substitutes used while the insured's vehicle was being repaired met the requirements of former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4. Integon Indem. Corp. v. Canal Ins. Co., 256 Ga. 692, 353 S.E.2d 186 (1987) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4).

Exclusion limiting liability coverage for bodily injury to the named insured or any family member to the liability limits required by law did not violate public policy. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Burch, 222 Ga. App. 749, 476 S.E.2d 62 (1996); Cotton States Mut. Ins. Co. v. Coleman, 242 Ga. App. 531, 530 S.E.2d 229 (2000).

"Business use" exclusion void.

- Automobile policy exclusion for the insured using a vehicle "while employed or otherwise engaged in any business" was void as against public policy to the extent of the mandatory monetary requirements in effect at the time of the collision. Federated Mut. Ins. Co. v. Dunton, 213 Ga. App. 148, 444 S.E.2d 123 (1994).

Vehicle operated without employer's permission.

- Trial court was correct in granting summary judgment in favor of the insurer when, at the time of the injury, the employee was not merely operating the vehicle for the employee's own personal use without the employer's express or implied permission, the employee was operating the vehicle in contravention of the employer's express direction that the vehicle was only to be used for business and not for personal purposes. Lunceford v. Integral Ins. Co., 204 Ga. App. 730, 420 S.E.2d 389 (1992).

Named driver exclusion valid.

- No language in O.C.G.A. § 33-34-4 prohibited named driver exclusion disallowing coverage for insured's spouse, nor was the contested provision violative of public policy, such that the trial court's conclusion that the provision was unenforceable was erroneous. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co. v. Browner, 209 Ga. App. 544, 433 S.E.2d 401 (1993).

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 an 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. § 33-34-4).

Recoverable accrued income.

- Employee is entitled to recover the amount of the accrued income that the employee can prove with reasonable certainty would have been paid if not for the employee's injury. Vlahos v. Sentry Ins. Co., 262 Ga. 737, 426 S.E.2d 350 (1993).

"Radius of use" exclusion in a business automobile policy was not void as violative of public policy since it applied to a comprehensive coverage claim for loss by theft, not to the liability coverage. Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Dobbins, 205 Ga. App. 700, 423 S.E.2d 396, cert. denied, 205 Ga. App. 900, 423 S.E.2d 396 (1992).

Rental cars.

- Language in an automobile rental agreement stating that the lessor "furnishes no insurance whatsoever to the renter" did not exempt the lessor from providing liability insurance for injury to third parties. Jones v. Wortham, 201 Ga. App. 668, 411 S.E.2d 716, cert. denied, 201 Ga. App. 904, 411 S.E.2d 716 (1991).

O.C.G.A. § 40-9-102, which provides that lessees from U-drive-it agencies furnish their own insurance, does not completely exempt the agencies from the agencies' duty to procure liability insurance as owners of vehicles pursuant to the insurance law. Jones v. Wortham, 201 Ga. App. 668, 411 S.E.2d 716, cert. denied, 201 Ga. App. 904, 411 S.E.2d 716 (1991).

Even though a car rental agreement stated that coverage limits were those imposed by the state financial responsibility law where the accident occurs, the rental company could not claim entitlement to such limits when the company failed to comply with requirements that the company's limitations of coverage be specified in the company's self-insurance plan filed with the commissioner of insurance. Ryan v. Boyd, 911 F. Supp. 524 (M.D. Ga. 1996).

Although rental car companies, such as the vehicle owner, were required to insure cars the companies owned, the companies enjoyed special treatment on cars rented to the public in that the renter's liability insurance coverage was primary and the rental company's liability insurance coverage was secondary; thus, the insurer's coverage on the vehicle its insured, the company employee, rented was primary insurance in a case where the company employee was involved in a collision with the injured victim, the insurer settled with the injured victim, and the insurer argued the vehicle owner's insurance coverage was primary as the insurer did not show the insurer and vehicle owner had contracted to change the priority of coverage. Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. General Car & Truck Leasing Sys., 258 Ga. App. 733, 574 S.E.2d 914 (2002).

Priority of payment of no-fault benefits.

- This section does not specify the order in which the no-fault benefits it requires shall be paid. In the absence of any direction by the General Assembly, the parties are free to contract regarding the priority of payment of required no-fault benefits. Ryan v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 261 Ga. 869, 413 S.E.2d 705 (1992).

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 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).

Exculpatory clause valid where insured failed to notify company of claim.

- Policy provision excusing insurance company from liability for insured's failure to notify insurance company of a claim or suit against insured constituted a valid defense for the company to a judgment against the insured. Berryhill v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 174 Ga. App. 97, 329 S.E.2d 189 (1985).

Charging terms of statute to jury.

- It was not error for the trial court to charge the jury on the provisions of coverage requirements under the Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations Act rather than terms of the insurance plan since the plan referenced the statute and conformed to the dictates thereof. American Ass'n of Cab Cos. v. Egeh, 205 Ga. App. 228, 421 S.E.2d 741, cert. denied, 205 Ga. App. 899, 421 S.E.2d 741 (1992).

Summary adjudication proper.

- Where there was an absence of evidence supporting the plaintiffs' claim that the defendant did not comply with O.C.G.A § 33-34-5, summary adjudication was proper as a matter of law. Sagnibene v. Budget Rent-A-Car Sys., 209 Ga. App. 44, 432 S.E.2d 639 (1993).

Cited in Homick v. American Cas. Co., 209 Ga. App. 156, 433 S.E.2d 318 (1993); Guinn Transp., Inc. v. Canal Ins. Co., 234 Ga. App. 235, 507 S.E.2d 144 (1998); Scott v. Joe Thomson Auto Rental & Leasing, Inc., 257 Ga. App. 453, 571 S.E.2d 475 (2002); Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Hale Haven Props., 346 Ga. App. 39, 815 S.E.2d 574 (2018), cert. denied, No. S18C1423, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 75, cert. denied, No. S18C1418, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 88, cert. denied, No. S18C1421, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 92 (Ga. 2019), cert. denied, No. S18C1417, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 93 (Ga. 2019).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under Ga. L. 1975, p. 1202, § 3, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Law enforcement officers may stop and check drivers for proof of insurance, and may utilize the failure to produce such proof to trigger a requirement that such proof be provided within a reasonable time to avoid a citation for no insurance; but no citations may be issued for failure to produce proof of insurance on the spot. 1980 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U80-18 (decided under Ga. L. 1975, p. 1202, § 3).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Constitutionality of compulsory liability insurance legislation as a condition of use of automobile not operated for hire, 69 A.L.R. 397.

Validity and construction of provision of automobile policy against encumbrances, 16 A.L.R.2d 736.

Conflict of laws as to right of injured person to maintain direct action against tortfeasor's automobile liability insurer, 16 A.L.R.2d 881.

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

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

Combining or "stacking" medical payment provisions of automobile liability policy or policies issued by one or more insurers to different insureds, 25 A.L.R.4th 66.

Cancellation of compulsory or "financial responsibility" automobile insurance, 44 A.L.R.4th 13.

Validity, construction, and application of "named driver exclusion" in automobile insurance policy, 33 A.L.R.5th 121.

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