What is bodily injury liability insurance? – Forbes Advisor

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If you are involved in a car accident and are found to be at fault, bodily injury liability insurance covers medical expenses for others. It also covers other expenses, such as the other driver’s loss of income and your legal fees if you are sued because of the accident.

In most states, some level of bodily injury liability insurance is required.

What is bodily injury liability insurance?

Bodily liability insurance is a part of your car liability insurance. It helps with costs associated with injuries that other people suffer as a result of an accident for which you are responsible. In other words, its purpose is not to reimburse the driver (like you) who causes the accident, but to reimburse people in other vehicles involved in the accident who were injured.

Bodily injury liability insurance typically has two separate coverage limits: a per-person limit and a per-accident limit. These limits are often shown as a series of numbers, such as 15/30/15. The first two numbers are your bodily liability limits and the third number is your property damage liability limit. For example, here’s what 15/35/15 means.

  • Bodily injury limit of $15,000 per person per accident
  • Bodily injury limit of $30,000 for more than one person per accident
  • $15,000 property damages per accident

If you cause an accident and another person is injured, your limit of liability per person applies. But if multiple people are injured, then your per-accident limit applies to all the combined damage costs arising from the accident.

Do I need bodily injury liability insurance?

Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires auto liability insurance, which includes bodily injury coverage. If your state requires it, you may need to show proof of insurance when you register a vehicle.

Even if bodily injury liability isn’t required by your state, it’s still smart to maintain basic coverage.

What does bodily injury liability insurance cover?

Bodily injury liability insurance covers a variety of costs related to car accident injuries that you (or someone who was driving your car) causes to others.

Medical expenses

Many types of medical costs are covered for other people involved in an accident you cause, such as emergency care, ongoing medical care and hospital fees.

Legal fees

If someone injured in the accident sues you, this liability insurance will cover your legal defense fees, court costs, judgments and settlements, up to your policy limits.

Loss of income

In cases where a person is injured in an accident you caused and loses work because of it, bodily injury liability insurance can cover lost income as a direct result of the accident.

Funeral expenses

If the accident results in the death of another driver or one of their passengers, liability insurance can pay for funeral expenses.

What does bodily injury liability insurance not cover?

There are three main costs that bodily injury liability insurance does not cover.

Your medical costs

Bodily injury liability insurance covers the medical costs that other people incur as a result of the accident, but it does not cover your own medical expenses.

If you want coverage for your medical expenses, you may be able to purchase Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage, depending on your state.

Damage to property

If you cause a crash, there is likely to be damage to the other driver’s vehicle. Or you may cause damage to someone else’s property, such as a fence or even a house or shop. This is covered by the property damage portion of liability car insurance.

Damage to your vehicle

Bodily injury liability insurance will not cover damage to your vehicle. If you want coverage for car repair bills for your vehicle, you will need to purchase collision insurance.

How much personal injury insurance do I need?

The minimum amount of liability insurance you must have is determined by state law. But the minimum is usually insufficient and can leave you financially vulnerable if you cause an accident that results in significant expenses for others.

For example, Florida car insurance requires at least $10,000 in bodily injury coverage per person. But that won’t get you very far if you cause a car accident and the other driver is seriously injured. You are still responsible for any amount that exceeds your policy’s liability limits.

A good rule of thumb is to have enough liability coverage to protect what might be taken from you in a lawsuit.

One way to get a superior level of liability insurance is to purchase personal umbrella insurance in addition to your auto insurance. This coverage will kick in if the costs from an accident exceed your liability insurance limits.

Full coverage car insurance is worth considering if you want liability insurance and coverage for your vehicle. While there is no specific policy known as “comprehensive coverage,” it usually refers to a policy that includes liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive insurance.

Connected: How much car insurance do you need?

How much does bodily injury liability insurance cost?

The national average cost for liability insurance is $650.35 per year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This average includes coverage for both bodily injury and property damage.

The costs of personal injury liability insurance will depend on factors such as:

  • Where do you live
  • Your driving history
  • Your coverage limits
  • The type of car you drive
  • Your claims history
  • The policy limits you choose

Connected: Liability Insurance: Cost and Coverage

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