What is bodily injury liability mean in terms of auto insurance? The short answer is that bodily injury liability insurance helps pay for medical expenses and lost income for those you injure in an accident you cause. It is one component of liability car insurance, which is required in most states.
What does bodily injury liability insurance cover?
Bodily injury liability pays, up to your policy limits, for injuries or death that you (the policyholder), or other drivers covered by your car insurance policy, are found responsible for after a motor vehicle accident. Policy terms vary, but typically bodily injury liability car insurance will cover:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Legal defense if a lawsuit results from the auto accident
Policy limits for bodily injury liability are per person and per accident and coverage is written as such. For example, $25,000/$50,000 means that the maximum payout per person injured in an accident you cause is $25,000, and the maximum payout for all people injured in one accident is $50,000. This coverage may also be written as 25/50.
Bodily injury liability does not cover your injuries, only the injuries of others for which you’re liable. For your personal injuries, you need other insurance such as personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay).
Is bodily injury liability coverage mandatory?
Yes, in most states bodily injury liability is required as part of the state minimum liability auto insurance requirements you must carry to drive legally.
Car insurance companies normally require that you carry the same level of liability coverage on each vehicle listed on your policy. In some states, you must carry the same liability limits on all cars that you own.
How much bodily injury liability do I need?
Many experts recommend bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident (referred to as 100/300 coverage). If you can afford higher limits, that is even better for protecting your assets.
How much does bodily injury insurance cost?
How much you pay for bodily injury insurance depends on several factors, including how much coverage you want, your driving record and where you live.
What happens if I don’t have bodily injury liability coverage?
If you don’t carry bodily injury liability and the state requires it, penalties such as fines, suspension of your license, and/or vehicle registration can be levied.
Also, without bodily injury liability coverage on your car insurance policy, you will be held personally responsible for any injuries you cause to others in an auto accident. This could mean you must liquidate property, savings and other assets to pay for a judgment against you.
A few states don’t require bodily injury liability coverage; however, it is still recommended that you carry this coverage to better protect you and your assets.
If you do carry bodily injury liability coverage, but with low limits, you still could be putting yourself at risk financially, since if you cause a serious accident where injury expenses exceed your limits, you can be held responsible for the amount above your limits.
What is the difference between bodily injury liability and medical expense car insurance coverage?
Bodily injury liability and medical payments are not the same type of coverage; each is in place to cover different things. BI is to protect those you may injure in an accident, while Medical Payments coverage is there to cover you and your passengers when injured, no matter who was at fault in the accident.
Medical payments may also cover policyholders and their family members when they are injured while riding in someone else’s car or when they are hit by a car while on foot or bicycling. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in your specific car insurance policy.
On the other hand, bodily injury does not cover you if you are injured in an accident. Bodily injury liability (BI or BIL) is for those you injure if you’re at fault in an accident. BI is mandatory in most states.
If you and your regular passengers already have health insurance that covers similar expenses, medical payments coverage may be unnecessary. Check your health insurance policy for details since some exclude coverage for injuries received in a car accident.