Updated May 21, 2020

Bodily Injury Liability

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How much bodily injury liability should you have? And what does it cover? Find out how much coverage you need to protect against expensive car accident claims.

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What Is Bodily Injury Liability?

Bodily injury liability insurance kicks in when you cause an accident. It covers the costs related to other people's injuries. It can also help pay for your legal fees if the person injured sues you.

It is sometimes referred to as "third-party insurance" since it covers other drivers and passengers, but not you.

Bodily injury liability insurance is required in most states. It covers:

Medical Expenses
This includes emergency room and hospital care costs, follow-up doctor visits, and other medical costs. It can cover the cost of a wheelchair and other medical equipment.

Lost Income
If the person injured can't work because of the accident, bodily injury coverage will compensate for lost wages.

Legal Defense
If your accident results in injuries, you could get sued by the person injured or their insurance company. Bodily injury coverage can help you cover the costs of going to court.

Pain and Suffering
Bodily injury liability insurance covers both physical and mental pain. This can include emotional distress or depression that results from the accident.

Funeral Costs
In the worst case that someone passes away because of the accident, bodily injury liability insurance can help pay for their funeral costs.

You might not think about how important liability insurance is until you need to use it. But how do you get the right amount? Find out below.

Do I Have Enough Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Most states have a minimum bodily injury coverage limit. But you can—and probably should—get higher levels of coverage.

Calculate your net worth to see how much insurance you need:

  1. Add the total value of your assets, including your home, car, savings, and investments.

  2. Subtract any debt you have.

Your total bodily injury limits should at least match this amount.

Typically, you will see bodily injury liability insurance listed at two numbers: The first number is a per-person limit, and the second number is a per-accident limit.

If your coverage is $50,000/$100,000 (sometimes listed as 50/100):

  • $50,000 per person: This is the amount your insurance will cover for each person in an accident. If one person in the accident suffers $60,000 in damages, you would be responsible for $10,000.

  • $100,000 per accident This is the amount your insurance will cover for the whole accident. If two people suffer $50,000 in damages each, your insurance would cover all of it.

You have to pay for damages out of pocket if they exceed your coverage amount. Consider getting more than the state minimum for your financial safety.

It's a smart idea to get more than the state minimum. The extra protection is worth the higher premium. See how much it could cost in your state.

How Much Does Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Cost?

Not having enough insurance could make an already stressful situation worse. Check the cost of minimum coverage vs. the expert-recommended amount below. In most cases, it's small enough to make more coverage worthwhile.

StateMin. Coverage Per
Person / Incident
Est. Annual Cost: Min.Est. Annual Cost: 100/300/100
Alabama$25,000 / $50,000$508$679
Alaska$50,000 / $100,000$436$530
Arizona$15,000 / $30,000$513$761
Arkansas$25,000 / $50,000$501$649
California$15,000 / $30,000$573$802
Colorado$25,000 / $50,000$521$726
Connecticut$25,000 / $50,000$643$901
Delaware$25,000 / $50,000$846$1,156
Florida$0 / 0 (no state minimum requirement)N / AN / A
Georgia$25,000 / $50,000$548$718
Hawaii$20,000 / $40,000$510$676
Idaho$25,000 / $50,000$325$427
Illinois$25,000 / $50,000$422$547
Indiana$25,000 / $50,000$425$527
Iowa$20,000 / $40,000$313$388
Kansas$25,000 / $50,000$429$522
Kentucky$25,000 / $50,000$975$1,292
Louisiana$15,000 / $30,000$971$1,711
Maine$50,000 / $100,000$416$473
Maryland$30,000 / $60,000$627$755
Massachusetts$20,000 / $40,000$484$716
Michigan$20,000 / $40,000$1,368$1,488
Minnesota$30,000 / $60,000$472$544
Mississippi$25,000 / $50,000$603$816
Missouri$25,000 / $50,000$432$581
Montana$25,000 / $50,000$381$528
Nebraska$25,000 / $50,000$406$500
Nevada$25,000 / $50,000$722$1,240
New Hampshire$25,000 / $50,000$492$617
New Jersey$15,000 / $30,000$881$1,184
New Mexico$25,000 / $50,000$488$672
New York$25,000 / $50,000$887$1,092
North Carolina$30,000 / $60,000$351$460
North Dakota$25,000 / $50,000$345$397
Ohio$25,000 / $50,000$429$512
Oklahoma$25,000 / $50,000$531$747
Oregon$25,000 / $50,000$639$769
Pennsylvania$15,000 / $30,000$500$692
Rhode Island$25,000 / $50,000$920$1,186
South Carolina$25,000 / $50,000$596$788
South Dakota$25,000 / $50,000$281$348
Tennessee$25,000 / $50,000$408$530
Texas$30,000 / $60,000$782$951
Utah$25,000 / $65,000$502$649
Vermont$25,000 / $50,000$329$415
Virginia$25,000 / $50,000$376$482
Washington$25,000 / $50,000$607$758
West Virginia$25,000 / $50,000$484$669
Wisconsin$25,000 / $50,000$364$469
Wyoming$25,000 / $50,000$305$372

Auto insurance premiums depend on a variety of factors. This includes your age, zip code, driving record, your car's age, and more. Your premiums could differ.

Do I Really Need Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Unless you live in Florida, you are legally required to have at least the state minimums for bodily injury liability coverage. No matter where you live, carrying more than the minimum coverage can help.

Let's say you only have the minimum coverage in a state where the limit is $25,000/$50,000.

One person is injured. Between their medical bills, legal fees, and income loss replacement, you need to pay $35,000. Your insurance company will pay a maximum amount of $25,000 per person. The remaining $10,000 will have to come out of your pocket.

If three people were injured and their medical expenses total $75,000, your insurance company will pay up to $50,000. This leaves you with a $25,000 bill.

It's a stressful situation. Having enough coverage will give both you and the other party peace of mind.

Keep in mind that if you choose not to carry bodily injury coverage in Florida, you are still responsible for all costs associated with other people's injuries. The insurance company won't pay anything.

In 2017, the average bodily injury liability insurance claim was $15,270, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Even if you're a good driver, accidents happen. See what you can do if you find yourself in one.

How Do I File a Bodily Injury Claim?

If you were not responsible for an accident but experienced injuries, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance. If you were at fault, they will file against yours.

These are often called "third-party claims." To ensure a reasonable amount of your expenses are paid for by the other person's insurance, you need to provide documentation of the accident.

You should expect to provide:

  • Record of what happened

  • Photos of the scene, vehicles, and injuries you sustained

  • Doctor or hospital records and medical bills

  • Receipts of all related expenses, such as legal fees or medical expenses

  • Proof of lost wages if your injuries require you to miss work and potential income

If you are in an accident, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They will help you file against the offending party's insurance company.

Don't wait to do this—there are sometimes time limits on filing. If you miss the time limit, your claim may be denied.

After you file a claim, the waiting game begins. Here's what you can expect in the days that follow.

I Filed a Claim. Now What?

After you make a claim, it usually takes around 30 days to settle it. But the actual time depends on your state and policy. Be prepared to discuss the incident the insurance company. The insurer will want clarification of the injuries and the cost of the claim.

Keep in mind you may have a limited time frame to accept the settlement. Work with your insurance agent or an attorney to meet any deadlines.

After a settlement, you will be asked to sign a release form. This prevents you from seeking more payment from the other driver and their insurance. Before you sign, review the settlement with your attorney or agent. Be sure to account for future medical bills or expenses that might arise.

If your claim exceeds the at-fault driver's coverage, you can sue the driver. You may have to go to court. There, a judge or jury can award you more than the policy limits.

What if There Is a Bodily Injury Claim Against Me?

One of the first steps you should take is to hire an attorney. This is important especially if you think the other driver is faking injury.

If you have insurance and the other driver makes a claim, an insurance adjuster will take care of the matter. This person will investigate all aspects of the accident and determine how the company will handle it.

If your coverage limit is more than the claim, your insurance company will pay the claim. You won't have to do anything. If it's less than the claim, you will be contacted. You should hire an attorney to help you understand your options.

If you don't have insurance, you or an attorney must investigate and defend against injury claims.

Any time you are in an accident, you should report it to your insurance company. This applies whether you're at fault or not. That way, they have your side of the story if the other driver makes a claim.

Make sure you never say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault. Even if your case goes to court, you are still covered. Your insurance company should handle everything. But your monthly premium could increase.

Bodily injury liability insurance isn't the only way you can keep yourself safe. Some insurance policies cover you and your belongings.

Other Coverages That Can Protect You

Your auto insurance is comprised of different coverages to fully protect you in the event of an accident. Many states have minimum requirements for these coverages.

Check your state's DMV or talk to an agent to confirm you have the coverage you need.

Liability Coverage
This coverage pays for damages or injuries in an accident you cause. There are two types: bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

Property damage liability insurance pays to repair or replace damage to others' vehicles, valuables, or property. It even extends to things like lamp posts and fire hydrants.

Liability insurance is usually formatted in two or three numbers. The third number is for property damage liability insurance. For example, you may see a policy has 100/250/50, which covers:
  • $100,000 for injuries per person
  • $250,000 for injuries total per accident
  • $50,000 for property damage per accident

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP pays for lost wages and medical bills for you or your passengers in an accident. In some states, PIP will pay out before liability insurance kicks in.

Medical Payments
This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers in an accident, no matter who was at fault. It does not pay for lost wages. Limits are usually low ($10,000 or less).

Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist
This coverage applies to accidents caused by the other driver. You'll be covered even if the driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough coverage.

Collision covers damages to your car in an accident you cause. If your car is totaled, it will pay your car's estimated value.

Comprehensive covers theft and damages from vandalism or nature. It includes incidents like hail damage or a tree falling on your vehicle.

Collision and comprehensive are usually optional. But if you have an auto loan or lease, your agreement might require these coverages.

Bottom Line

Car accidents aren't fun. Most states have a minimum limit for bodily injury liability insurance. But if you can afford it, it's smart to have more than the minimum bodily injury coverage. The extra coverage will ensure you and your assets are protected.

If you cause an accident, you can be responsible for paying for injuries to the others involved. Not having enough coverage means you'll have to pay out of pocket.

Work with your insurance agent to determine how much bodily injury coverage you need. It could save future-you a headache.

Write to Caitlyn Callahan at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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