A combined single limit (CSL) can apply to liability coverage on your car insurance, often offering wider liability coverage than non-CSL policies. Businesses seeking car insurance tend to see this type of limit the most — it’s rare for personal auto policies to lump both property damage and bodily injuries under one limit.
What's in this guide?
- What is a combined single limit in car insurance?
- How does combined single limit liability work?
- What are the pros and cons of a combined single limit?
- Combined single limit vs. split limit: Which is better?
- How much combined single limit coverage do I need?
- Compare commercial auto insurance with combined single limits
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions about combined single limits
What is a combined single limit in car insurance?
A combined single limit is the maximum amount your car insurance will pay out for both property damage and bodily injury liability combined. The limit may range from $500,000 to $1 million in combined liability coverage.
This single limit allows you to pay any property damage or injury expenses, no matter how much they are, as long as the total cost stays within the limit. Combined single limits are most common with commercial car insurance policies and in certain states, such as Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah.
What is a per occurrence vs. aggregate combined single limit?
When buying car insurance with a combined single limit, you might see that the limit applies per occurrence or as an aggregate.
Per occurrence means your insurance company will pay up to that amount for each accident. Aggregate means the limit applies to all accidents that happen within the policy term, typically six or 12 months. Per occurrence policies will provide the most coverage.
What’s the difference between a combined and split limit?
By comparison, a split limit provides a separate dollar amount for bodily injuries and property damage. You cannot go above the limit for each type of damage. Bodily injuries are further split into limits for each person injured and the total for the accident.
For example, you’ll see split limits for liability on personal auto policies written as 50/100/25. This means there’s a $50,000 limit for bodily injuries per person, $100,000 limit for injuries per accident and a $25,000 limit for property damage. So your insurance maxes out for bodily injury coverage when you hit $100,000 for a single accident or $50,000 per person.
How does combined single limit liability work?
Let’s say a driver causes an accident that causes $75,000 in medical bills and $25,000 in car damage for the other driver. The at-fault driver’s insurance would cover all of these costs.
If it’s a combined single limit for liability on the car insurance policy with $500,000, the at-fault driver’s insurance would cover the full $75,000 for injuries to the other driver and $25,000 to repair the other driver’s car.
However, if the policy used a 50/100/25 split limit, injury coverage would stop at $50,000 for the injured driver. The at-fault driver would be responsible for paying the additional $25,000 for the injuries. The damage to the other car would be covered at $25,000.
What are the pros and cons of a combined single limit?
- Higher coverage. Policies with combined single limits tend to offer more total coverage than one with a split limit because injuries and property damage come from the same pool of coverage.
- Simple claims process. While you need to submit expenses the same way for either policy, you can estimate whether the claim will get approved more easily. Any accident-related expenses under the single policy limit should get approved.
- Flexibility for expenses. If you’re at fault in an accident, the driver has the flexibility to use as much of your policy’s coverage as needed, without worrying about caps on different types of damage.
- Difficult to find. You might not find a CSL policy on personal auto insurance since few, if any, personal insurance companies offer it. However, some drivers may add a personal umbrella policy for extra coverage instead. Otherwise, you should have no trouble finding a CSL policy on commercial vehicles.
- More expensive than split limits. Because CSL tends to provide more coverage, you can expect this policy to cost more than one with a split limit.
Combined single limit vs. split limit: Which is better?
Combined single limit car insurance policies work best if you’re looking for wide car insurance coverage. These policies offer more protection for personal or business assets. Also, you might consider it if your vehicle could cause severe damage, such as a large truck.
However, a split limit works well for drivers who have few high-value assets or for personal auto policyholders. If you need high coverage but can’t find a CSL policy, keep in mind that some companies offer higher split limits, like 100/300/100 or higher.
How much combined single limit coverage do I need?
The absolute minimum amount of liability coverage you need is your state’s minimum requirements. Many states require around 25/50/25, but some go as high as 50/100/25. If you have a CSL policy, that might mean at least $100,000 in coverage for bodily injury and property damage. The amount of comparable coverage for combined vs single limit policies varies by state.
Aside from state requirements, consider buying enough liability to cover the value of your assets or the highest amount you can afford. For example, you might want a total of $50,000 in coverage if you own a $40,000 car plus anything else you leave in your car like your phone, stereo or other modifications worth about $10,000.
Compare commercial auto insurance with combined single limits
A combined single limit can help you get wide liability coverage, typically for business use. It gives you the flexibility to use payouts as needed for injuries or property damage.
If you’re looking for this type of limit, see which commercial car insurance companies offer the best CSL liability coverage for you.
Frequently asked questions about combined single limits
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