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Compare bodily injury liability coverage

This coverage helps with medical and legal costs if you cause an accident, but your state's minimum requirement may not be enough.

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In most states, you’re required to have a specified amount of bodily injury liability. This coverage helps you pay costs that result from injuries you cause to another person in a car accident.

How much does bodily injury insurance cost?

Drivers typically buy liability coverage, which includes property damage liability insurance and bodily injury liability insurance. Expect it to cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a year.

The overall cost of liability coverage will vary depending on factors such as your age, where you live and your driving history.

Does injury coverage have a deductible?

Liability coverage usually doesn’t have a deductible. For example, if you injure someone in an accident and your insurance covers the cost of the medical bills, you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs.

How much bodily injury liability do I need?

You need at least the minimum amount of liability coverage required by your state. However, consider buying as much liability as your budget can afford. This way, you can limit the possibility of having to pay any out-of-pocket costs and protect your assets. Many car insurance policies offer limits of 100/300/100 or higher, giving you the widest possible protection.

Your bodily liability insurance coverage is included as one of two parts of your liability insurance on your auto insurance policy. You’ll be able to select your desired bodily injury liability maximum when purchasing your auto insurance policy.

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What is bodily injury liability and how does it work?

If you have bodily injury liability coverage, your insurer will help you pay costs that result from injuries you cause to another person — particularly if you’re at fault, and you hit them or their vehicle. These may include:

  • Immediate medical aid
  • Legal help
  • Health care
  • Funerals
  • Pain and suffering

It doesn’t cover any of your or your passengers’ injuries, and it doesn’t cover damages to your vehicle either. You may consider adding personal injury protection coverage in case you and your passengers also have medical needs.

What types of limits are available for liability insurance?

When you buy liability coverage, you can choose a combined single limit or split limit policy.

Combined single limit

You’ll see a combined single limit policy written like this: “$300,000 each accident.”

This means you’re protected for up to $300,000 in the event you cause bodily injury or property damage. If you have to pay for damage to a fence as well as the medical costs of three people, then your policy will cover you, as long as it’s under your policy limit.

Split limit policy

A split limit policy for bodily insurance might be written like this: “100/300.” These numbers are just shorthand for how much your insurance will cover you for:

The first number is the limit per person injured. The “100” means you have $100,000 of coverage. So if one person makes a claim for $90,000 in medical bills, you’re covered. But if that person accumulates bills totaling $150,000, your insurance won’t cover the full amount, and you’ll be left to cover the difference.

The second number is the overall limit per accident. The “300” means you have $300,000 of coverage. The total cost of all claims for an accident needs to stay within that amount. For example, you’re covered if three people make claims for $100,000 each because of an accident you caused. But you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket for anything beyond that.

Injury coverage in action

You have 100/300 in bodily injury liability coverage. This means your insurance will pay claims totaling $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

While driving along the freeway, you hit the car in front of you and cause a multicar pileup. You’re later found liable for the medical costs of five people, and each bill ranges from $30,000 to $40,000. Luckily your individual limit covers the payments, which total $160,000.

Is bodily injury liability coverage required?

In all states except New Hampshire and Virginia, you’re required to carry at least the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance specified by your state. Most states require a minimum coverage of 25/50 in bodily injury. However, many experts recommend buying at least a 100/300 policy to protect your assets.

What are the requirements for New Hampshire and Virginia?

If you live in New Hampshire, you’re not required to have auto insurance. However, you need to prove you can pay if you cause bodily injury or property damage. The easiest way to do this is by purchasing insurance like in any other state.

It’s not mandatory to have auto insurance in Virginia, either. But like in New Hampshire, you must prove that you can pay for costs stemming from bodily injury or property damage. You can do that by either buying insurance or paying a fee to the DMV.

Bottom line

It’s almost certain that you’ll need bodily injury liability — the question is how much. To protect yourself in most instances, consider getting a policy that covers you above your state’s minimums. To find the best rates, compare car insurance companies at the coverage amount you need.

Common questions about bodily injury coverage

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