What Is Bodily Injury Liability Insurance?
Bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for another person's expenses if you injure them in a car accident. Bodily injury liability coverage is required in most states and is one major type of liability insurance. The other is property damage liability coverage, which pays for damage to other people’s property if you are found to be at fault.
Key Things To Know About Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
- Bodily injury liability insurance covers other people’s injury expenses in accidents that you cause, and it can also cover your legal fees if you are sued after causing an accident.
- Bodily injury liability policies have limits on how much will be paid per person injured and per accident.
- Most states require bodily injury liability coverage, and the cost of bodily injury insurance varies based on the driver and how much coverage they purchase.
What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover?
Bodily injury insurance will cover a portion of the short- and long-term costs related to injuries suffered by other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bystanders who may have been involved in an accident caused by the policyholder. Here are some examples of what bodily injury insurance typically covers:
Bodily injury insurance covers hospital fees and emergency care associated with the accident. For some claims, it may also cover follow-up visits and equipment costs (such as crutches).
In case of an accident, the other party may file a lawsuit against you. Bodily injury insurance often covers legal defense fees and can help defray significant court costs.
Loss of income
Let’s say the other person suffers an injury that interferes with their ability to work – maybe they work in a physically demanding environment, or need several months of rehab. In this case, bodily injury insurance may compensate for this time period.
Pain and suffering
This can be a tricky cost to quantify, but the other party may claim repayment for lingering pain or emotional distress as a result of the injuries. Bodily injury liability insurance can help cover the cost.
In the event of fatalities, bodily injury coverage will also help pay for the funeral costs.
Learn more about what bodily injury liability covers.
How Bodily Injury Liability Works
Liability insurance policies come in two varieties: combined single-limit and split-limit. With a combined single-limit policy, you get a certain dollar amount of coverage, which is divided between bodily injury and property damage based on the nature of the accident.
With a split-limit policy, your insurer determines how much it will pay for each coverage type ahead of time. These policies are usually written as 25,000/50,000/20,000 or 25/50/20, for example.
The first number is the limit per person – the maximum amount that your insurance provider will pay for injury expenses for any individual involved in the accident. The second number is the limit per accident, or the maximum amount the provider will cover for all people involved in the accident. The third number is the property damage limit.
Learn more about how bodily injury liability works.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Is Required?
States typically require motorists to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. The map below shows the minimum amount of bodily injury coverage your state requires in the event of an accident.
Bodily Injury Liability Requirements by State
|State||Min. Liability Coverage Per Person||Min. Liability Coverage Per Accident|
|Florida||Not Required||Not Required|
|New Jersey||Not Required||Not Required|
Minimum coverage requirements last updated January 2023
There is an exception to the rule of state-mandated insurance. Several states allow drivers to “self-insure” by demonstrating they could pay for any expenses that would result from an accident. This may involve posting a bond or depositing large amounts of savings with the state.
New Hampshire is an example of a state that technically does not require drivers to carry insurance so long as they have significant funds at their disposal in the event of an accident. If a New Hampshire driver opts for insurance however — as nearly all do — they must meet the state’s minimum requirements.
How Much Does Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Cost?
The cost of bodily injury liability insurance depends on several factors, including how much coverage you purchase, your state, and your driving history. The more coverage you purchase beyond the state’s minimum requirements, the more you’re going to pay. Additionally, if you’ve had an accident or moving violation within the last few years, your coverage will likely cost more.
The table below provides an example of the average additional cost drivers in Northern Virginia may incur annually if they purchase more than the $25,000/$50,000 coverage required in that state. Because insurance costs vary by driver, we provide the added cost for a driver with a clean driving record and others with a recent accident or traffic violation.
Added Cost of Extra Bodily Injury Liability Coverage vs. State Minimum
|Clean driving history||$16 extra||$72 extra||$154 extra|
|Recent speeding ticket||$20 extra||$88 extra||$176 extra|
|Recent accident||$24 extra||$100 extra||$240 extra|
Note: Average calculated from quotes by multiple insurance providers for a 37-year old female with excellent credit in zip code 22209 driving a 2008 Honda Accord.
*Monthly cost also includes $50,000 in property damage liability insurance and collision and comprehensive insurance with $500 deductibles.
Learn more about how much bodily injury liability insurance costs.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Do I Need?
You need at least enough bodily injury liability insurance to meet your state’s minimum coverage requirements, though you may want to purchase more coverage to protect your assets in case you cause a severe wreck. As a general rule, you should have enough bodily injury liability insurance to cover your net worth.
Your insurance company will never cover expenses that go beyond your policy’s limits, so if you don’t have enough bodily injury liability insurance, you will be financially liable for covering any remaining medical bills after an accident. To decide exactly how much coverage you need, you should add up the total value of your assets, including investments, personal savings, and home equity.
Learn more about how much bodily injury liability you should have.
Video: Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Explained
Ask the Experts
To gain more insight about bodily injury liability Insurance, WalletHub posed the following questions to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to view their bios and answers.
1. Why is bodily injury liability insurance required in so many states?
2. What types of drivers should only get the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance?
3. What types of drivers should get more than the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance?