The Georgia Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire (OCI) regulates the operation of insurance companies in the state. It ensures that all residents of Georgia have access to insurance products that benefit them. The major insurance policies available in Georgia are:
Residential property insurance
The best insurance policy to purchase largely depends on your personal and business needs. You can purchase insurance policies directly from an insurance company or agent. Purchasing insurance through an agent is very good because they are familiar with the insurance market and can help you shop around for affordable policies that suit your needs. The major source of revenue for insurance companies in Georgia is premium payments. This is why all insurers in Georgia charge premiums for the insurance coverages they provide to insureds. Insurers calculate premiums based on several factors like coverage type, amount, limits, deductibles, and the insured's personal information. Most insureds are allowed to determine their premium payment method, which could be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. Paying premiums upfront generally attracts discounts.
As of July 2021, Georgia had a population of 10,799,566 people, with more than 9 million residents under 65 years. On average, around 19% of those under 65 years old lacked proper health insurance, while in some Georgia counties the uninsured rate can be as high as 30%. Health insurance in Georgia covers medical care and unforeseen expenses that may arise due to illnesses or injuries. The cost of health insurance policies in Georgia depends on factors like location, age, tobacco use, and whether it’s an individual or family plan. Additionally, the type of plan (private, public, employer-sponsored, or government-subsidized) you choose also affects your premiums. All health plans in Georgia come with cost-sharing, where you have to pay some of the cost of your health care. In addition to premiums, you must pay:
Deductible: This is the amount you have to pay for a covered service before your health insurance kicks in.
Copayments: This is the fixed amount you have to pay for a covered service or prescription drug.
Coinsurance: This is the percentage of the cost you must pay for a covered healthcare service. For instance, if your coinsurance is 30%, when there is a medical expense, you would have to pay 30% of the cost, and your insurer pays the remaining 70%.
Out-of-pocket limit: This is the maximum amount you will have to pay for any covered healthcare service in a year.
|Common Types of Health Insurance Coverage in Georgia|
|Major Health Insurance||Some major health insurance plans in Georgia are:|
|Supplemental Health Insurance||Some supplemental health insurance plans in Georgia are:|
Georgia does not have a state-run marketplace where individuals can enroll for health coverages. Hence, residents would have to use the federal health insurance marketplace to enroll for individual/family or small business health coverage. All health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are available in the insurance marketplace and offer similar essential health benefits like doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, and prescription drugs. All U.S. nationals or qualified immigrants who reside in Georgia can apply and enroll in health coverage through the health insurance marketplace. Purchasing health coverage through the marketplace makes you eligible for premium subsidies (premium tax credits) and cost-sharing reductions based on your income level.
Note that not all health insurance plans (especially group health plans) are available on the ACA marketplace. Still, you can get them directly from health insurance companies or through a Georgia-licensed insurance agent. As an alternative to the ACA marketplace, you can also purchase alternative health plans (like short-term health coverage and limited benefit plans) and/or supplemental health plans. Alternative health plans are affordable plans that may be a good solution for healthy people that do not have preexisting conditions and do not need regular health services or prescriptions. In contrast, supplemental health plans help to cover healthcare costs like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles that are not covered by major health plans.
There are many health insurance plans in Georgia, and it might be quite confusing to know the best plan that would suit your current and future needs. Hence, do yourself some good by talking with a Georgia-licensed health insurance agent who can help you shop for health insurance plans on and off the marketplace. The agent helps you compare quotes from multiple insurers and ensure you get a suitable health insurance plan that meets your needs.
Auto insurance helps to protect you against costs associated with vehicle-related accidents and incidents. Georgia recorded approximately 387,444 auto crashes in 2021. As of July 2022, there were about 10.4 million registered vehicles in Georgia, with an estimated 12% (>1.2 million) of them uninsured or underinsured.
|Statistics on Vehicles in Georgia|
|Types of Vehicle||Examples||Statistics|
|Passenger vehicles||Van, jeep, ambulance, mixer, motor home, convertible, coupe, touring car, limousine, roadster, hearse, station wagon, multi-purpose vehicle, 2-door, 3-door, and 4-door||>6.6 million|
|Trucks||Wrecker, truck, and truck tractor||>2.2 million|
|Trailers||Trailer, utility trailer, boat trailer, travel trailer, camper, and cattle/horse trailer||>1.3 million|
|Source: Georgia Drives e-services|
Auto insurance in Georgia is commonly divided into private and commercial auto insurance. Private auto insurance covers vehicles driven for personal use, while commercial auto insurance covers vehicles used for business. The most common types of auto insurance policies in Georgia include:
Liability insurance: It covers bodily injuries and property damages an at-fault insured driver causes to others in an accident. Georgia law mandates every driver in the state to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident in bodily injury liability and $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident in property damage liability. Liability insurance helps you cover medical payments and even legal fees, if your claim is brought to court.
Physical damage insurance: It covers loss or damage to an insured’s vehicle. Physical damage insurance is not mandatory in Georgia, but your lender may require it if you got your car using a loan. There are two types of physical damage insurance in Georgia:
Comprehensive: It covers theft or damages to your car caused by perils like vandalism, fire, and storm.
Collision: It covers damages incurred when your car collides with another vehicle or object.
Uninsured motorist insurance: Uninsured motorists are drivers who violate the minimum auto insurance coverage law or unknowingly allow their auto insurance to lapse. When such drivers cause an accident that injures you or your passengers or damages your vehicle, your uninsured motorist insurance will provide coverage.
Several factors like location, driving record, vehicle use, gender, age, and vehicle make and model affect the premiums you will pay for your auto insurance. For instance, insurers charge male drivers higher premiums than female drivers because male drivers tend to be more involved in accidents and frequently file insurance claims. However, you can always seek the services of a Georgia-licensed auto insurance agent who can help you save on your auto insurance policy. They can also inform you about discounts you can exploit (like good student, safety devices, anti-theft devices, low mileage, good driver/renewal, auto/home package discounts) that would help lower your premiums.
Residential property insurance provides financial protection to homeowners and renters in the event of damage or theft. Nearly 4.5 million housing units in Georgia need residential property insurance. About 64% of these housing units are owner-occupied, while 36% are rental units.
|Common Residential Property Insurance Types in Georgia|
|Residential Property Owner Insurance||Homeowners Insurance|
|Tenant Insurance||Renters Insurance|
Although residential property insurance is not mandatory in Georgia, having it prevents property owners from paying out of their pockets in the event of insurable perils. This is because residential property insurance policies like homeowners, condo, and landlord insurance provide financial protection for structures, personal property, and liability claims for a covered loss. If the home is financed, the mortgage lender requires homeowners insurance coverage.
Residential property insurance is not only beneficial to property owners; renters can get renters insurance to cover their personal belongings and provide protection against liability. Also, most Georgia landlords may require tenants to have renters insurance.
Residential insurance also works in a pair with your auto insurance coverage. If any of your personal property is stolen from your car, personal belongings are covered by your home insurance - not the car insurance.
The best way to get residential property insurance is through a Georgia-licensed property and casualty insurance agent who knows the best coverage that will suit your structure.
As of 2021, the State of Georgia had over 1.1 million active businesses. Nearly all but 0.4% of all businesses in the state are considered a small business, with less than 500 employees. That same year, large and small businesses in Georgia employed over 4.3 million residents. All these businesses need commercial insurance policies to protect them from financial losses due to perils such as theft, property damage, lawsuits, and employee injuries, illnesses, and death. Business owners can purchase different commercial insurance plans like business interruption insurance, business auto insurance, commercial crime insurance, and cyber liability insurance. They can also buy directors' and officers' liability insurance, general liability insurance, fidelity bonds, business owner policy (BOP), workers' compensation insurance, and life insurance for their business.
|Common Commercial Insurance Coverages in Georgia|
|Commercial Property||Real Estate (Landlord or Tenant)|
|Products and Inventory|
|Business Interruption Insurance|
|Builders’ Risk Coverage|
|Commercial Crime Insurance|
|Extra Expense Insurance|
|Commercial Automobile Insurance|
|Commercial Liability||General Liability (property damage + bodily injury)|
|Professional Liability Insurance|
|Umbrella Liability Insurance|
|Owners’ and Contractors’ Protective Liability|
|Directors and Officers Liability Insurance|
|Errors and Omissions Insurance|
|Commercial Health||Group Health Plans|
|Disability Income Coverage|
|Workers Compensation Insurance|
|Business Overhead Expense Insurance|
|Commercial Life||Group Life Insurance Coverage|
|Buy-Sell Agreements Coverage|
|Key Employee Life Insurance|
To get commercial insurance coverage, speak with a Georgia-licensed commercial insurance agent who can assess your business needs and recommend matching commercial insurance policies that will be suitable for the kind of business you own.
In 2022, Georgia had a population of around 10.8 million residents, with nearly 1.6 million adults aged 65 years or older. These seniors are at higher risks for severe illness and chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and cancer, which are the nation’s leading causes of disability, death, and health care costs. Hence, life insurance coverage is needed to provide financial protection to people’s loved ones after their deaths. At a minimum, each life insurance policy should cover the cost of the funeral and the payment of the final expenses and debts that may be left behind for the family to deal with.
|Common Types of Life Insurance Policies in Georgia|
|Term Life Insurance||Level Term|
|Return of Premium (ROP)|
|Permanent Life Insurance||Whole Life|
In Georgia, insureds can either choose to purchase term life insurance or permanent life insurance policies, depending on their needs. Term life insurance provides coverage for a short period, like one or more years, and only pays a death benefit if the insured dies during the policy term. In contrast, permanent life insurance provides lifelong coverage, and most of them come with cash value components that insureds can withdraw from, borrow against, or use to pay premiums while still alive. The cash value amount that comes with most permanent life insurance policies is either linked to the stock market or directly invested in the stock market.
|Life Insurance Benefits in Georgia|
|Living Benefits of Life Insurance||Terminal Illness Rider: It covers end-of-life care and other expenses associated with a terminal diagnosis with 6 months to 2 years of life expectancy.|
|Long-Term Care: This allows you to access living benefits to cater for long-term expenses when you can not perform at least two activities of daily living.|
|Accelerated Death Benefit (ADB): It allows you to get funds from your death benefit while still alive to pay for expenses incurred due to a terminal illness.|
|Policy Surrender: It allows you to get a refund of your cash value when you cancel your policy without any cancellation charge.|
|Disability Waiver of Premium: It allows you to skip premium payments on your policy for about six months or more if you have long-term disabilities.|
|Return of Premium: It allows you to get back all your premiums if you do not pass away during the term life policy tenure.|
|Family Income Rider: It provides the policy beneficiaries with the same amount the insured was earning while still alive.|
|Accidental Death Rider: It gives the policy beneficiaries an additional amount of money with the death benefits if the insured’s demise is due to an accident.|
|Access to Cash Value: It allows you to withdraw funds or borrow from your cash value account.|
|Death Benefit of Life Insurance||Death Benefit is the amount the insurer pays out to the policy beneficiaries after the insured's demise.|
Life insurance policies can be used for various purposes, depending on the type of policy purchase. Individual life insurance policies can be used for death benefits and living benefits. In contrast, commercial life policies can be used to get discounted offers in terms of group coverage or to protect the business and its key personnel.
|Common Uses of Life Insurance in Georgia|
|INDIVIDUAL LIFE INSURANCE
Protects the lives of individuals who have purchased life insurance policies.
|DEATH BENEFIT: It is an amount paid to policy beneficiaries at the insured's demise. Below are the uses of death benefit:
|LIVING BENEFITS can be used for:
|COMMERCIAL LIFE INSURANCE
Protects the lives of the company's employees and management.
|GROUP life insurance: It mostly comes as a term life insurance and is usually employer-sponsored. Group life insurance can be used for:
|KEY PERSONNEL life insurance: It covers the major person in the business whose death can lead to the end of the organization. Key personnel life insurance is used for
|BUY-SELL AGREEMENT COVERAGE: It insures all business partners and can be used to fund the buy-out of a deceased business partner's share of the business|
Insurers use several factors like age, health status, gender, lifestyle, and occupation to determine life insurance policies. This is why it is good to purchase life insurance policies at a young age when one is still healthy.
To get life insurance in Georgia, speak with a knowledgeable state-licensed life insurance agent who can help you review your life insurance needs and get affordable policies that suit those needs.
Georgia is prone to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes. Georgia has over 4,600 dams, and approximately 15% of the world’s earthquakes take place in Georgia. Residents must protect their residences and businesses against natural disasters by purchasing disaster insurance policies.
|Most Common Natural Disasters in Georgia|
Floods are not covered under most regular property insurance. Hence, you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy to cover flood losses.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides additional protection from damage caused by flooding.
|In 2022, about 4,470 multi-family structures in the Georgia metropolitan area were at risk for storm surge and hurricane wind, with an expected reconstruction cost value of nearly $2.2 billion.
The most common damages from flooding are:
Tornado damage is covered by standard property insurance as wind damage.
|In 2020, Georgia experienced a tornado outbreak in 21 counties, leading to several casualties. In 2021, about 57 tornadoes were reported in Georgia.
The most common damages from tornadoes are:
Standard property insurance policies cover fire damage.
|In 2021, about 2,139 wildfires consumed 11,108 acres of land in Georgia.
The most common damages from wildfire are:
Most property insurance policies do not cover losses resulting from earthquakes.
|Although earthquakes are not common in Georgia, it is better to stay prepared. Several earthquakes occurred in Georgia in 2022.
The most common damages from earthquakes are:
Hurricane damages are covered by most property insurance policies under the windstorm coverage, but flood loss associated with hurricanes is excluded.
|In 2020, many single-story homes in Georgia were at risk of storm surges at different category levels:
|The most common damages from hurricanes are:
Most Georgia residential and commercial insurance policies exclude coverage for losses resulting from earthquakes and floods. Hence, individuals would have to get separate disaster insurance policies like flood insurance and earthquake insurance to cover such damages. To figure out which type of disaster insurance will best provide coverage for your residential and commercial structure, speak with a Georgia-licensed property and casualty insurance agent. They will help determine the disaster insurance you may need based on the prevalent natural disasters in your city or county.
Besides the main broad categories of insurance, Georgia’s insurance market offers various other types of coverage to suit your specific needs. Here are a few examples:
|Insurance Type||Related Fact|
|Pet Insurance||Around 3 million pets live with their families across Georgia. About 120,000 of them (mostly dogs) are insured.|
|RV Insurance||Goergians spend over $100 million on Recreational Vehicles every year. To be road-worthy, RVs need insurance coverage.|
|Motorcycle Insurance||With over 200 thousand registered motorcycles, nearly 4 thousand of them crash every year in Georgia.|
|Boat Insurance||With over 151 public boat ramps, there are over 5 thousand recreational boats in Georgia.|
|Aircraft Insurance||With over 110 airstrips, Georgia residents own nearly 6 thousand private aircraft. The aircraft, the pilot, and passengers need insurance coverage.|
|Cellular Phone Insurance||There are over 5 million mobile phones in Georgia. With the average ownership of around 2 years, your phone gets dropped an average of 416 times (4 times a week). 29% of phones experience a cracked screen in its lifetime|
|Umbrella Liability Insurance||As a catch-all policy (Personal or Commercial), which provides liability coverage after any other primary (Auto and/or Residential) policy exhausts its policy limits|
|Identity Theft Insurance||In 2021, Georgians filed over 50,000 identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC)|
|Travel Insurance||With 9 major airports across the state, millions of Georgians travel every year. Travel insurance helps with the lost luggage, trip cancellations, and basic medical coverage|
|DeFi & Crypto Insurance||With over 20 blockchain companies in the Atlanta metro alone, Georgians are actively involved in Decentralized Finance and Cryptocurrency.|
There are several types of insurance policies available in Georgia, and anyone or business should be able to get an insurance company willing to insure them at a cost. The most common types of personal insurance policies are health, auto, residential property, and life insurance. Out of all these insurance policies, only liability auto insurance is legally mandated.
Additionally, businesses in Georgia can purchase different types of commercial insurance policies, depending on the risks they face. The most common types of commercial insurance policies in Georgia are business interruption insurance, commercial auto insurance, commercial crime insurance, product or professional liability insurance, general liability insurance, fidelity bonds, business owner policy (BOP), and workers' compensation insurance.
Insureds must pay premiums regardless of the type of insurance policies they purchase. These premiums are what insurers use to settle claims when they experience damages or losses in the event of covered perils.
An insurance claim in Georgia is a formal request by an insured to an insurer for coverage or compensation for covered damage or loss based on the agreement in the insurance policy document. Typically, an insurance claim contains details of the damages and evidence of the events leading to such damages. Upon notification, the insurer will review the claim for its validity and then pay it out to the insured or the requesting party (on behalf of the insured) once approved. Sometimes, insurers can decide to deny or modify insurance claims due to various reasons like:
Failure to file a timely claim
Violation of policy terms
Damage excluded from coverage
A good way to reduce your premium rates may be to minimize the number of claims you file. Don't be tempted to file small claims; rather, file a claim in the event of significant loss. Before filing a claim, speak to a knowledgeable insurance agent in Georgia who can advise you if the claim is worth filing and can help you with the process.
The cost of insurance is the amount your insurer will charge for the insurance policy you purchase, which is referred to as a premium. You can pay your premiums monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually depending on what works for you.
|Average monthly cost of insurance in Georgia|
|Individual Insurance Policies||Health Insurance:
|Auto Insurance: Car insurance in Georgia costs $90 - $100 per month for minimum coverage and around $120 - $200 for a full-coverage policy (based on the insuring factors like age, experience, and type of insured vehicle).|
|Life Insurance: The cost of life insurance depends on a lot of factors, and primarily on age. While a healthy young adult could get a $250,000 death benefit policy for around $15 - $20/mo, a male with some health issues in their 50s could get a $1 million coverage for around $150 - $250/mo.|
|Residential Property Insurance:
|Commercial Insurance Policies||Commercial Property:
The cost of insurance varies depending on the type of insurance you purchase and the risk involved in insuring you, your structures, and your businesses. Insurers use factors like the type of coverage, amount of coverage, personal information of the insured (occupation, age, gender, health status), business risks, and location to determine an insured's premiums. The cost of insurance also varies from one insurer to another. Hence, you can seek the service of a Georgia-licensed agent who works with multiple insurers and can help you compare commercial insurance quotes from them.
Insurance companies can afford to pay out claims by looking for ways to make money in the long term. Below are some ways insurers can afford to pay out claims:
Expiring term policies: Insurers make money on expired policies by retaining all collected premiums without paying out benefits. Insurers can take out of the money retained to pay out claims.
Policy cancellations: An Insured can decide to cancel their policy and collect their money after generating sizable funds in their cash value account. The insurer will pay the cash value amount with interest gained on the investments and keep all the premiums that have been paid. The money gained by the insured can be used to pay out the claims of other insureds.
Investment income: Insurers can invest the premiums paid by the insured in the financial market to boost their revenue. In a situation where the insurer does not make a profit from the investment, they can just increase the premium amount and transfer losses to the insureds.
Although the insurance companies in Georgia are highly regulated by the Georgia Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire (OCI), they can go bankrupt for different reasons. For example, insurance companies can underprice their products and have more insurance claims than expected.
When an insurance company in Georgia becomes financially unstable, the OCI Division of Insurance & Financial Oversight (IFO) can take over the company through receivership. Firstly, IFO will try to rehabilitate or liquidate the company to improve its financial situation. However, IFO can declare the company insolvent and sell its assets if all efforts prove futile. At the point of the company’s insolvency, the Georgia Guaranty Association will swing into action. Every licensed insurance company in Georgia belongs to the state guaranty association. Hence, if an insurance company goes bankrupt, the guaranty association will continue coverage if the insured continues to pay premiums or has a cash value. The guaranty association can provide insurance coverage directly or indirectly by transferring the policy to another insurance company. Insureds would have to keep paying premiums to keep their policies active.
The Georgia Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Association protects the rights of individuals in Georgia. The association was enacted in 1981 under the Georgia Guaranty Association Act (the Act was amended in 2012 and 2020). This guaranty association consists of all Georgia licensed life insurers, accident and health insurers, and insurers who sell annuities. The association protects Georgia residents with life and health insurance policies and annuity whenever their insurance companies become insolvent. When an insurance company becomes insolvent, the association gets money to pay claims and continue coverage through assessments of other member insurance companies.
|Georgia Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Association Maximum Amount of Protection as of July 2020|
|Life insurance claims||
|Health insurance claims||
The liability obligations of your insolvent insurance company towards your insurance policy would always be higher than that of the Georgia guaranty association. In addition, the association does not protect policies purchased from insurers not licensed to do business in Georgia. Use the License Lookup option on the OCI website to verify your insurance company's license. Alternatively, you can speak to a Georgia-licensed insurance agent who can help you get insurance policies from only insurance companies licensed to do business in the state.
Insurance company ratings is a way independent agencies determine an insurance company's financial strength, solvency, and ability to pay out claims. The ratings of various independent rating agencies regarding the same insurance company can differ because they have different rating scales. Hence, you should treat an insurance company's rating as an opinion, not a fact. Rating agencies rate insurance companies with strong financial standing and a high reputation for managing and satisfying their financial responsibilities. There are four major insurance company rating agencies recognized in Georgia, namely:
Standard & Poor's
Kroll Bond Rating Agency
It is important to always check the ratings of an insurance company before purchasing an insurance policy from them. This will help you have an idea of the solvency of the company. Several insurance companies' financial strength ratings (IFS ratings) are freely available online for public inspection. You can contact the Consumer Services Division of the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire at (404) 656-2070 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are not sure of the solvency of an insurance company. Alternatively, seeking the services of a Georgia-licensed insurance agent to help with rating verification, professional advice, and purchase of a policy is highly recommended.
Generally, insurance companies in Georgia make money by assuming and diversifying risks. Most insurers make money through underwriting, investment income, cash value cancellations, and coverage lapses. Underwriting revenues come from the cash collected on insurance policy premiums. Generally, an insurance company employs an underwriter who uses statistical data to evaluate and analyze the risks involved in insuring a person. The outcome of this evaluation is what helps insurers determine what they will charge in premiums that will ensure they pay future claims together with a remaining income.
Insurance companies in Georgia also make money through investment income. Insurers tend to invest the monthly premiums paid by insureds in the financial markets to increase their revenues. Another way insurance companies earn money is through cash value cancellations. An insured who has a permanent life insurance policy with cash value can decide to stop coverage and withdraw all the accumulated money in their cash value account. The insurer will pay the insured's cash value with interest earned on their investment and keep all the money paid in premiums as their profit.
Insurance companies in Georgia also make money through coverage lapses. A coverage lapse occurs when an insurance policy expires, or an insured fails to pay the insurance premium within the grace period stated in their policy document. In that situation, the insurance company retains all collected premiums with no possibility of a claim being paid.
For more information on how insurance companies in Georgia make money, contact a licensed insurance agent in Georgia. You can also ask licensed agents in your locality insurance-related questions. They are knowledgeable on how insurance operates in Georgia.