What is bodily injury liability coverage? | finder.com
Bodily Injury

What is bodily injury liability coverage and why do I need it?

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

In most states, you’re required to have liability coverage. This includes insurance for property damage and bodily injury.

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What is bodily injury liability coverage?

If you have bodily injury liability coverage, your insurer will help you pay costs that result from any 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 it come with a deductible?

Liability coverage usually doesn’t come with 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.

What is a deductible?

The deductible is what you’ll pay before your insurance company will pay a claim.

Let’s say you file a claim to your insurance company for a $5,000 car repair bill. Your insurance covers you for that amount, but it includes a $500 deductible. This means you must pay $500 out of your own pocket before your insurance will cover the other $4,500.

How bodily injury liability coverage works

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

A combined single limit policy is written like this: “$300,000 ea. accident.”

This means you’re protected for $300,000 in the event of bodily injury and property damage costs. 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. (That is, as long as the cost falls within $300,000.)

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 you’re covered if one person makes a claim for $90,000 in medical bills. But if that person accumulates bills totaling $150,000, your insurance won’t cover the full amount — it covers $100,000 only.
The second number (300) is the overall limit per accident. “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.

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 extremely valuable, as medical costs can multiply quickly. Many experts recommend buying at least a 100/300 policy ($100,000 individual limit, $300,000 overall limit) 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, of course, 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.

How much does bodily injury liability coverage cost?

Drivers typically buy liability coverage, which includes property damage liability insurance and bodily injury liability insurance.

The overall cost of liability coverage will vary considerably depending on your age, where you live and your driving history, among other factors. Expect it to cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a year.

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.

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.

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