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Liability car insurance
Liability kicks in for other people’s medical bills or car repairs if you cause an accident.
Liability car insurance covers you if you’re responsible for an accident and need to pay for damage from hitting another car, injuring a driver or passenger or crashing into other property like fencing or a pole. This protection also pays for your legal expenses if someone sues you for the accident — so it’s important that you buy enough liability insurance to cover these expenses and protect your finances.
How liability car insurance works
When you’re buying car insurance, you’ll need to choose the amount of liability coverage you want, called your coverage limits.
On an online quote or your policy, liability coverage limits might look something like: 50/100/50. This means that insurance pays a maximum of $50,000 for each person’s medical bills, $100,000 total for medical bills per person and $50,000 for property damage, typically applied to the other driver’s car.
Split limit policy
While shopping for liability coverage, you may see an insurance policy expressed as 25/50/15 — or similar to the above example. When you see numbers expressed in this way, you’re looking at a split limit policy.
These numbers are just shorthand for how much your insurance will cover you for:
The three numbers change to create different policies. Your state most likely has policy minimums, but otherwise you’re free to choose the right mix for your own needs.
Combined single limit policy
A combined single limit policy offers one coverage limit.
Let’s say you take out $200,000 of combined single limit coverage. In the event of an accident, you can split this coverage between different types of damages.
For example, you’d be covered in the following instances:
All of the costs are $200,000 or less, so your combined single limit insurance will cover them.
How much liability coverage do I need?
You want to start with buying the amount of liability coverage that meets your state minimum requirements, which is often 25/50/25, though requirements are widely different between states. However, since states typically require a low amount of liability protection, you want to consider higher protection, such as 100/300/100.
That’s because paying for someone else’s medical bills and car repairs can stack up quickly, especially if there are multiple people or cars involved.
If you select the bare minimum liability limits, you’ll be left to pay the excess damage expenses out of pocket. Also, you could appear high-risk to insurance companies, since you’re passing on more responsibility. As a general rule, many experts recommend buying policies that at least cover the value of 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 up 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 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 motor vehicles department.
Does liability coverage come with a deductible?
Liability coverage usually doesn’t come with a deductible. For example, if you hit someone else’s car and your insurance covers the cost of repairs, you won’t have to pay out of your pocket.
Cheapest liability-only car insurance policies
As a ballpark, expect liability car insurance coverage to cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a year. However, the overall cost of liability coverage will vary considerably depending on your age, where you live and your driving history, among other factors. While this option isn’t right for everyone, compare sample quotes to see if it could be a good fit for your budget.
|Company||Average annual rate||Learn more|
|21st Century||$651||Read review|
|Liberty Mutual||$709||Read review|
|State Farm||$726||Read review|
|The Hartford||$727||Read review|
|Average||$598||Compare all reviews|
What’s not covered by liability coverage?
While liability car insurance is required, you might need other types of coverage to be fully protected. Here are some things not included in liability insurance:
- Damage to your car caused by a collision or otherwise. If you have a long commute or drive a newer vehicle, you might want collision and comprehensive coverage to protect you from pricier repair costs.
- Medical bills. Personal injury protection can help with medical expenses or finances after a car crash.
- Uninsured drivers. Underinsured coverage will protect you if someone can’t pay for your damages in a crash they caused.
Compare liability car insurance policies
In all states but Virginia and New Hampshire, liability coverage is required for every driver. Your state will likely have coverage minimums, but consider purchasing higher coverage limits to protect your assets.
Find the best deal on liability coverage by comparing car insurance companies.
Frequently asked questions about liability coverage
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