When shopping for insurance, it is important to know what the numbers on your car insurance policy mean. Reading auto insurance numbers is easy, the numbers 25/50/10 define the car insurance coverage limits.

The first number refers to the bodily injury for one person, the second is for bodily injury liability for all persons in one accident and the third is for property liability damage. Many states mandate these three types of coverage.

Keep reading for a breakdown of these car insurance numbers.

Key Highlights
  • The numbers 25/50/10 on your car insurance policy represent the financial limits of your liability coverage.
  • The first two numbers are the highest amount the insurance company will pay if someone is hurt.
  • When you have low limits on your car insurance, it means that if something happens and you cause a lot of damage, then you will be responsible for paying the cost.

What does each car insurance number represent?

Different car insurance numbers show different coverage limits. These numbers on your auto insurance policy represent the monetary limits on your liability coverage.

The numbers may look like this:

  • 10/20/10
  • 25/50/10
  • 50/100/50

Let’s take 25/50/10 as an example:

  • The first number, 25, stands for $25,000. This is your maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one person injured in one accident or incident.
  • The second number, 50, stands for $50,000. This is your maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for all persons injured in one accident.
  • The third number, 10, stands for $10,000. This is your maximum coverage for property damage liability in an accident you caused.

Which policy number format does State Farm use?

State Farm, like other insurance companies, uses the same policy number format of bodily injury liability/BI liability for all persons in an accident/property damage. So, for example, 100/300/100 is $100K bodily injury liability for one person, $300K BI per accident and $100K in property damage.

Do you need to have liability insurance?

Most states require drivers to have minimum liability coverage before they can operate a vehicle. This policy protects you against certain financial losses if you are involved in an at-fault accident. It will cover bodily injury and property damage you cause to others up to the limits of your policy.

Liability car insurance is your primary coverage that helps to pay for the damage you’ve caused to other people and their property in an accident. The two types of auto liability coverage are bodily injury and property damage. In most states, drivers are required to have both coverages.

Bodily injury liability

The first two numbers represent the highest monetary amount your insurance company will pay if someone is injured.

For example, if you injure one driver in an at-fault accident, your insurance company will pay up to $10,000 for that person’s medical bills. If the bills come out to $12,000, for example, you will be required to pay an extra $2,000 out of pocket.

If you’re at fault in an accident where there are four people hurt, the most any one person can get for their medical bills is $10,000. So all four would have to split the $20,000 top limit.

If one person was severely injured, then that individual’s medical expenses could easily exceed your per-person limit of $10,000 for bodily injury liability — meaning you’d be responsible for the excess medical bills your insurance didn’t pay.

With one party already receiving $10,000 in this example, the other three’s medical bills would be paid out of the remaining $10,000 left on your bodily injury coverage. If the total of their medical expenses exceeded your limit as well, then they also could come after you personally for this money.

Read more about bodily injury liability coverage.

Property damage liability

If you hit numerous cars in your accident, then you would exceed your $10,000 property damage liability limit. If you totaled out a couple of cars, each worth $8,000, then the other parties would have at least $16,000 dollars worth of claims, exceeding your property damage liability limits of $10,000 — like the injuries did with your bodily injury coverage.

Read moreWhat is property damage liability coverage?

How much liability coverage should you get?

If these are your state’s minimum liability requirements, then they should be enough for you to register your vehicle.

However, they’re on the low side if you severely injure other people or hit multiple cars (or just one expensive vehicle) in an at-fault accident.

Low limits leave you and your assets at risk; you can be held personally responsible for amounts exceeding your car insurance limits.

Read our guide on raising liability limits — the extra security is worth the added cost of car insurance.

While financial circumstances do not allow everybody to raise their liability limits, it’s recommended that you buy as much car insurance as you can afford.

The insurance industry’s recommended coverage amount is 100/300/100: $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident for bodily injury and $100,000 for property damage liability coverage.

If you select limits that are too low, you could be putting yourself at risk financially. To make payments for injuries or damages that exceed your limits, you could be forced to liquidate property, savings and other assets, or your future earnings could be attached.

By purchasing liability limits to account for your current assets and future net worth, you can help protect yourself against this risk.

How much car insurance do I need to carry?

It’s important to get the right liability coverage limits for your car. All states have minimum legal requirements that all drivers should meet, but how much insurance you need to carry will depend on your current assets as well as the state you live in.

If you have a high risk of being involved in accidents and are financially secure, you should carry high liability coverage. It also lowers the risk of losing your assets if a lawsuit is filed against you.

To see how much liability limits you should buy, check out the”How Much Car Insurance Do You Need?” tool.

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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Contributing Writer

Prachi is an insurance writer with a master’s degree in business administration. Through her writing, she hopes to help readers make smart and informed decisions about their finances. She loves to travel and write poetry.