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Compare bodily injury liability coverage

Bodily injury liability coverage will help you pay medical costs in an auto accident you’ve caused.

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In most states, you’re required to have liability coverage. Bodily injury liability is one form of liability insurance and covers you for the medical expenses of others injured in an accident you cause.

What is bodily injury liability coverage?

If you have bodily injury liability coverage, your insurer will help you pay costs that result from injuries you cause to another person. These may include:

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

Bodily injury liability coverage doesn’t pay for your own medical costs. For that, you’ll use your own health insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection.

Does bodily injury coverage come with 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 your pocket.

How bodily injury liability coverage works

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

Combined single limit

A combined single limit policy is 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 individual payment limit per accident. 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.

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Bodily injury liability coverage in action

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

Why should I buy bodily injury liability coverage?

In all states except New Hampshire and Virginia, you’re required to have bodily injury liability. This coverage can prove valuable since medical costs can multiply quickly. 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.

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 Virginia’s DMV.

Who’s covered by bodily injury liability coverage?

This kind of coverage is meant to take care of the other person involved in an accident — particularly if you’re at fault, and you hit them or their vehicle.

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.

How much does bodily injury liability coverage 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 your age, where you live and your driving history, among other factors.

How do I buy bodily injury coverage liability?

It’s a standard insurance policy, so nearly all insurers offer bodily injury coverage. Use our insurance comparison tool to shop around at different providers.

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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.

Frequently asked questions about bodily injury liability

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