Publication Date


Document Type

Survey Article


Several decisions rendered by the Georgia Court of Appeals which we discussed (and a few of which we criticized) in last year's survey were further clarified or overruled by the Georgia Supreme Court. As has been the pattern over the years, Georgia courts during this survey period reinforced that when any ambiguity exists in an insurance contract, courts will construe the contract in favor of finding coverage for the insured. However, when no ambiguity exists on the face of the insurance contract, courts will strictly enforce the provisions as written, and will rarely find any public policy preventing enforcement. One exception is interpretation of uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage, where the courts typically hold that the statutory interpretation of UM coverage prevails over the language of the policy, unless such interpretation would allow double recovery for the insured. The court of appeals also applies another exception, finding certificates of insurance to be persuasive evidence of intent in contract interpretation. Continuing the pattern over the years, the courts reiterated that insurers place themselves in jeopardy of being assessed a variety of damages if they improperly disclaim coverage when they should have provided a defense under a reservation of rights and filed a declaratory judgment action. This assessment of damages includes being bound by a good faith settlement entered into between the insured and the injured party without the insurer's consent.

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