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If you are involved in a car accident and you are found to be at fault, bodily injury liability insurance covers the medical expenses of others. It also covers other costs, such as the other driver’s loss of income and your legal fees if you are sued because of the accident.
Most states require some level of bodily injury liability insurance.
What is bodily injury liability insurance?
Liability insurance is part of your car liability insurance. It helps with the costs associated with an injury that other people incur 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 caused the accident, but to reimburse the people in other vehicles involved in the accident who were injured.
Bodily liability insurance typically has two separate coverage limits: a person limit and an 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.
- $15,000 bodily injury limit per person per accident
- $30,000 personal injury limit for more than one person per accident
- $15,000 property damage per incident
If you cause an accident and another person is injured, your liability limit per person applies. But if multiple people are injured, then your accident limit applies to all the combined costs of injuries resulting from the accident.
Do I need personal liability insurance?
Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires liability auto insurance that includes bodily injury coverage. If your state requires it, you may need to provide proof of insurance when you register a vehicle.
Even if your state doesn’t require personal injury liability, it’s still wise to maintain basic coverage.
What does personal injury liability insurance cover?
Bodily liability insurance covers a range of costs related to car accident injuries that you (or someone who was driving your car) causes to others.
Many types of medical expenses for other people involved in an accident caused by you are covered, such as emergency care, ongoing medical care and hospital 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 caused by you and misses work because of it, personal injury liability insurance can cover the income they lose as a direct result of the accident.
If the accident results in the death of another driver or one of their passengers, Public Liability insurance can pay for funeral expenses.
What does bodily injury liability insurance not cover?
There are three main costs that personal injury liability insurance does not cover.
Your medical expenses
Bodily liability insurance covers the medical expenses that other people have 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 coverage or medical payment coverage (MedPay), depending on your state.
If you cause an accident, there will likely be damage to the other driver’s vehicle. Or you may damage someone else’s property, such as a fence or even a house or shop. This is covered under the property damage part of the car’s liability insurance.
Damage to your own vehicle
Bodily liability insurance will not cover damage to your own vehicle. If you want coverage for your car repair bills, you’ll need to purchase collision insurance.
How much personal injury insurance do I need?
The minimum amount of liability insurance you must have, determined by state laws. But the minimum is usually insufficient and can leave you financially vulnerable if you cause an accident that results in significant costs to others.
For example, Florida auto insurance requires at least $10,000 per person for bodily injury. But that won’t get you very far if you cause a car accident and the other driver is seriously injured. You are still liable for any amount that exceeds the limits of your liability policy.
A good rule of thumb is to have enough liability coverage to protect what could be taken from you in a lawsuit.
One way to get a superior level of liability insurance is to buy personal umbrella insurance in addition to your car insurance. This cover will come into effect if the accident costs exceed the limits of your Public Liability insurance.
Full coverage car insurance is worth considering if you want liability insurance and cover for your own vehicle. Although there is no specific policy known as ‘full coverage’, it generally refers to a policy that includes liability insurance, collision insurance and comprehensive insurance.
Connected: How Much Car Insurance Do You Need?
How much does “Civil Liability” insurance cost in case of bodily injury?
The national average cost of 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.
Your personal injury liability insurance costs will depend on factors such as:
- Where you live
- Your driving history
- Your coverage limits
- The type of car you drive
- Your claim history
- The policy limits that you choose
Connected: Liability insurance: cost and coverage
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